By Cathrine Gonzales, Inquirer.net
After a brief respite, the government again upped the pressure on the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated workers wanting to use public transport in Metro Manila with a new directive that designates mass transportation solely for the use of the fully vaccinated by February 25.
DOTr Undersecretary Artemio Tuazon Jr. said on Wednesday that unvaccinated and partially vaccinated workers in industries and establishments allowed to operate in the National Capital Region under Alert Level 3 may continue to use public transportation but only until the next 30 days starting January 26.
After February 25, Tuazon Jr. said, only workers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be allowed to use public transportation.
“This is to ensure that only those fully protected against COVID-19 are safe from using public transport. Data show that workers who remain unvaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19 are more vulnerable to severe and critical infections,” Tuazon said in a statement.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello, and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año discussed the new guidelines in an inter-agency meeting on January 21 and came up with the decision “after looking into the country’s vaccination data,” according to a joint statement from these agencies.ISKO 2022 – 1Play Video
The “no vaccine, no ride” policy in Metro Manila started on January 17. However, after the first day of implementation of the DOTr policy was met with confusion and chaos, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III came out with a statement saying workers with proper identification are exempted from the policy.
Passengers with medical conditions that prevent them from getting immunized; those getting or delivering essential goods and services; and, those headed to inoculation sites to receive a vaccine are also exempted from the rule.
According to DOTr, partially vaccinated individuals, or those who have only received one dose of a two-dose vaccine, will not be allowed to use public transportation after 30 days if their vaccination remains incomplete within the said period.
Tuazon said the joint decision made by the DOTr, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) supports the government’s drive to ramp up vaccination efforts, especially in view of the Omicron variant.
“We want our workers to get fully vaccinated especially now that there is no longer a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, and there is a threat of highly transmissible variants of the virus. We are giving our workers the time to get themselves vaccinated,” he added.
Tuazon said the new policy is not discriminatory.
“As jointly decided by the DOLE, DILG, and DOTr, workers who will remain unvaccinated 30 days after the announcement are not being barred from their workplaces. They are simply not allowed to use public transportation, but can still use other means such as active transport, private vehicles, or company shuttle services,” he further said.