Deadline for barriers get weeklong extension

PILLION riders in the country have been given another week-long extension to comply with the National Task Force Against COVID-19 requirement to install a barrier in their motorbikes as a protection against the deadly virus,  Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander, Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar yesterday told People’s Tonight.

“In effect, motorcycle riders were given three weeks grace period to comply with this requirement. This will be the most that the government, through our NTF Against COVID-19, could give for our motorcycle riders to comply in order for them to be allowed to back-ride their spouses or live-in partners,” the official said.

“ This is a proof that the NTF Against COVID-19 understands and listens to the concern of our riders, and in return, all we ask is compliance because this particular rule was made for the protection of the motorcycle riders from coronavirus infection,” he added.

Eleazar said the second deadline extension was given due to mounting requests from motorcycle riders to give them more time to comply since some of them do not know where to avail of the approved barrier design.

He said that during his consultation with proper authorities, he was told that motorcycle dealers across the country were already advised as to where motorcycle riders could avail of the approved barrier design.

The barriers will also be made available in popular online stores.

Eleazar however, said he had already coordinated with the Department of Trade and Industry in order to ensure that substandard barriers will not go to the market.

Motorcycle back-riding was allowed by the NTF Against COVID-19 on July 10 but under the condition that there would be a barrier between the driver and the backrider, and that pillion riding is limited to married and living-in partners.

The rules were set in anticipation of possible disregard on minimum health safety protocols by some hardheaded riders who may use their motorcycles as public utility vehicles by transporting people stranded commuters for a fee, Eleazar said.

True enough, a total of 1,564 motorcycle riders were accosted since July 10 for Unauthorized Back-riding, which means that their back-riders were neither their spouses nor their live-in partners.

The official explained that pillion riding involving friends, neighbors and even stranded commuters is risky since the riders themselves do not know if their back-riders are virus carrier or not.

Health experts have been repeatedly advising the public that one of the best ways to be protected from coronavirus infection is to always assume that all the people a person interacts or cross paths with are virus carriers, thus the importance of wearing face masks, observance of physical distancing and other minimum health safety protocols that include a barrier for motorcycles.

Lt.  Gen. Eleazar said that  Philippine National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa has already ordered the dissemination of the deadline extension to the police commanders and those manning and supervising Quarantine Control Points across the country.