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IATF says up to Duterte to change reduced distancing between passengers

September 16, 2020

Officials from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Wednesday said it will be up to President Rodrigo Duterte to revoke reduced physical distancing in public transportation.

During a press conference, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the IATF last Tuesday night came up with a recommendation for the President.

“Since this recommendation is for the executive session, we cannot say what the President will say because we don’t want to pre-empt the discretion of the President,” he said.

“At the end of the day, the President is the one who will approve on what will be the next step, on whether to sustain the recommendation of DOTr (Department of Transportation) or our minimum health standard of one meter,” he added.

The DOTr reduced distance between passengers from one meter to 0.75 meter in public transport on Monday. Health professionals opposed the move, citing that more people will be infected by COVID-19.

Año said there is no problem in opening the economy but the public's health should be “non-negotiable”.

“We can open the economy but to sacrifice the one meter distance is non-negotiable… Based on study and according to health experts, if you reduce the one meter distance, infection rate will increase,” he said.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said the documents that will be presented to Duterte are ready where all positions on one meter distancing versus the 0.75 meters distancing will be explained.

Duque said they support Año’s stand on maintaining the one meter distance between passengers as it reduces the risk of getting infected by the COVID-19

“The farther you go, the more effective the risk reduction and the better protection rate. In fact, in one meter distance, you are going to reduce the risk of getting the virus or transferring or contaminating someone by 81 percent,” he said.

“Two meters distancing that can go all the way up to 91 percent (protection) and three meters (is) 96 percent. With a face mask and face shield, the rate of protection will further increase,” he added. Ella Dionisio/DMS