The government has allowed unvaccinated and partially vaccinated workers against COVID-19 in the National Capital Region (NCR) to ride public transport for 30 days only beginning Wednesday, January 26.
The decision was reached after Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and Transportation Secretary Art Tugade considered the vaccination coverage in Metro Manila, according to a government statement issued Wednesday.
The "no vaccination, no ride" policy is being implemented in areas under Alert Level 3 status and up. Metro Manila, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, has been placed under Alert Level 3 until the end of the month.
"Within the 30-day window, partially vaccinated workers are still allowed to board public transportation," the joint statement read.
"However, since partially unvaccinated individuals are still at risk given that they do not have complete protection against the virus as clarified by the Health Department, they will not be allowed to use public transportation if vaccination remains incomplete within the 30-day window," it added.
DOTr Undersecretary for Administrative Service and official representative to the Inter-Agency Task Force Artemio Tuazon Jr. said the 30-day reprieve should encourage workers to get vaccinated, if not complete their COVID-19 vaccination.
"We are giving our workers the time to get themselves vaccinated. This joint decision is meant to support the vaccination drive of the entire government," Tuazon said.
"We want our workers to get fully vaccinated, especially now that there is no longer a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, and there is a threat of highly transmissible variants of the virus," he added.
Tuazon, however, maintained that the government's policy of banning non-fully vaccinated individuals in public transport is not discriminatory since there are other ways to go to the workplace other than public transport.
"As jointly decided by the DOLE, DILG and DOTr, workers who will remain unvaccinated 30 days after the announcement are not being barred from their workplaces. They are simply not allowed to use public transportation, but can still use other means such as active transport, private vehicles, or company shuttle services," he said. —Llanesca T. Panti/KBK, GMA News