Minimizing physical distancing in public transport backed by science, says DOTr

Inside the MRT-3. Photo: DOTr MRT-3/FB
Inside the MRT-3. Photo: DOTr MRT-3/FB

The Department of Transport (DOTr) insisted today that the reduction of physical distancing in public transport is based on medical experts’ advice.

Starting today, physical distancing will be reduced inside all public transport to 0.75 meters. This will be reduced to 0.5 meters after two weeks, then to 0.3 meters after 14 more days. This goes against the recommendation of the World Health Organization, which says that a minimum distance of one meter should be observed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Critics slammed the move, including Vice President Leni Robredo who asked the DOTr what their basis was.

Read: Adios, Physical Distancing: Public transport to accommodate more passengers from Sept. 14

DOTr Undersecretary Artemio Tuazon said the measure was approved by the scientific community and not “a figment of the imagination.”

“This is based on science. We based this on studies done by experts, such as the one done by the International Union of Railways, where they learned that the distance between passengers shouldn’t be that far, ” Tuazon said in English and Filipino in an interview with news program Unang Hirit. 

He also claimed that at present, it’s only the Philippines that enforces the one-meter distancing rule in its trains.

“This is based on medical studies that showed that when face masks and face shields [are used] and disinfecting protocols [are implemented], the transmission rate goes down by 94 or 95%. In addition, talking inside public transportation is prohibited. Cellphones can no longer be used. We have implemented a lot of [health protocols] such as disinfecting [the vehicles], temperature checks,” Tuazon added.

Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a separate interview on cable channel ANC that he prefers to maintain the one-meter rule in public transport, but the new measure was implemented due to the “clamor” from the business sector.


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