Coronavirus: Philippines eases distancing rules, allows more airplane passengers

The one metre physical distancing rule in trains can be gradually eased to a third of a metre as long as commuters wear face masks and face shields.
The one metre physical distancing rule in trains can be gradually eased to a third of a metre as long as commuters wear face masks and face shields.PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) - The Philippines has eased distancing rules in public transport, allowing trains and planes to have more passengers amid the region's worst coronavirus outbreak, the Department of Transportation said.

The agency and economic managers' proposal to increase public transport ridership and accommodate more people going back to work was approved by the government's coronavirus task force, Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade said in a statement on Friday (Sept 11).

The transport department delayed a scheduled briefing on the decision pending a meeting requested by health officials.

The 1m physical distancing rule in trains can be gradually eased to a third of a metre in a month as long as commuters wear face masks and face shields, the agency said. Standing commuters will be allowed in buses.

The easing is in line with economic officials' push to reopen the economy more, even with the highest coronavirus cases in South-east Asia, with over 250,000 infections as of Friday.

The Philippines’ health ministry on Friday reported 4,040 new coronavirus infections, the highest daily increase in 12 days, and 42 more deaths.  

The ministry said total confirmed cases had increased to 252,964, while confirmed deaths have reached 4,108.