THE Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) against coronavirus disease-19
(COVID-19) on Sunday was urged to allow motorcycle-riding couples in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and other areas under general community quarantine (GCQ).
“I think the government should not apply the ban on married couples riding together using their motorcycle as means of transportation in going to their workplaces or to the grocery store to buy household essentials,” House Assistant Majority Leader and Quezon City Rep. Precious Castelo.
Castelo, a vice chairperson of the House committee on Metro Manila development, said she could appreciate the objective of the ban and the impossibility of enforcing physical distancing on spouses riding together in a two-wheel vehicle.
“But if they can sleep together, dine together, why can’t they travel together?” Castelo asked.
She suggested that the IATF require couples to obtain a certification from their barangay chairman as proof of their marriage and always have with them a photocopy of their marriage certificate for presentation to law enforcement officers manning checkpoints.
The Quezon City House leader said the IATF should allow a spouse to take his/her wife/husband to his/her workplace or the grocery or supermarket, instead of telling his/her partner to use public transportation like buses, which will be allowed to operate only on 50-percent capacity in GCQ areas.
“With half of their seats vacant due to the physical distancing requirement, buses and the train system in Metro Manila will not be enough to ferry employees and workers,” said Castelo.
She said it would be difficult to enforce this requirement in public utility buses, unless the IATF assigns a soldier or a policeman to each bus to make sure that social distancing is observed.
Castelo added that it would be safer for couples to ride together on their motorcycle than to take the bus, where passengers would be at risk of getting the virus even with physical distancing.
The lady lawmaker expressed the hope that on Monday, when Metro Manila and most of Luzon shift to GCQ from modified ECQ, employees and workers would not insist on crowding buses and occupying seats passengers would not be allowed to use due to social distancing.
“We cannot afford a further spike in infections and a return to lockdown,” she stressed.
Castelo pointed out that allowing couples to use motorcycles would ease passenger demand for and congestion on buses.
Before the pandemic, motorcycles comprised 36 percent of public transportation, according to her.