We’re already a couple of weeks into general community quarantine (GCQ) in Metro Manila, but it seems that the guidelines on transport are still murky. People have continued to raise questions about driving out during GCQ, and one of the most frequently asked is whether or not motorists need to wear face masks inside their cars.
To set the record straight on the use of face masks inside private vehicles, we turned to the Department of Transportation (DOTr). Specifically, the Land Transportation Office (LTO). In the agency’s Memorandum Circular No. 2020-2185 dated May 12, 2020, it clearly states that “all drivers and passengers of private and government vehicles must wear face masks at all times.”
However, in a recent message from DOTr assistant secretary Goddes Libiran, she clarified that this does not apply to those driving alone inside their cars. Her statement reads: “In order to observe proper health and safety protocols, everyone is enjoined to wear face masks inside their vehicles, whether public or private. But, as clarified by LTO, this does not apply to individuals driving their private vehicles alone. However, if the private individual has passengers with him inside the vehicle, wearing of face masks is mandatory.”
As for the general guidelines for private vehicles under GCQ, we already wrote a quick explainer on it before. In case you missed it, the one thing you need to remember is that the allowed number of passengers per vehicle is two per row. This means that a midsize SUV with three rows, for example, can only load a maximum of six passengers including the driver. Backriding on motorcycles, meanwhile, is still prohibited as of this writing.
Vehicles with side-facing seats are only allowed to carry half of the indicated seating capacity. This is similar to the DOTr’s guidelines for public utility vehicle operations under GCQ—you can read more on that here.
We hope that settles it. The next time you need to drive out, remember to bring a face mask with you just in case even if you have no plans of stepping out of your vehicle. While you’re at it, you might as well keep some extras inside your car and save them for a rainy day. Stay safe out there, guys.