It’s official: The Philippine government has now announced a total ban on all forms of public transportation to fight the spread of COVID-19 within the island of Luzon. This is part of an ‘enhanced quarantine’ on the whole of Luzon—a measure that also limits households to 24/7 home quarantine, and strictly regulates provisions for food and essential healthcare services.
This means no rail lines, public utility buses, jeepneys, taxis, tricycles, and so on. Even Grab rides are no longer allowed. A heightened presence of uniformed personnel will be on the ground to enforce the enhanced quarantine.
The ban is effective on March 17 at midnight and will last until April 13 at midnight. The period of enhanced quarantine is subject to daily evaluation by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID). As such, its duration may be shortened if the IATF-EID sees fit.
Private vehicles are allowed on the streets provided only one occupant is inside and is heading out to buy necessities, or is visiting exempted establishments like supermarkets, banks, hospitals, convenience stores, pharmacies, and the like. Individuals like healthcare workers, government personnel, uniformed personnel transporting supplies or humanitarian assistance, or media with ID cards from the Presidential Communications Operations Office are also exempted.
The news comes on the evening of the first weekday of Metro Manila’s quarantine period.
This morning, commuters in the nation’s capital were greeted by long lines, large crowds, and a lack of social-distancing enforcement throughout the public transportation system. Images and footage of Filipinos packed too close for comfort inside buses, jeepneys, and terminals circulated online not long after, leading to valid concerns that the coronavirus could spread further despite the government’s efforts.
Will the government’s declaration of an enhanced quarantine period covering all of Luzon prove more effective in fighting the spread of COVID-19? Let us know what you think in the comments.