July 24, 2023
MANILA, Philippines — Commuters are no longer required to wear a face mask and observe physical distancing in public utility vehicles, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced on Sunday.
The DOTr’s announcement was made after President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. signed on Friday Proclamation No. 297 last July 21, lifting the COVID-19 state of public health emergency nationwide.
Under this directive, the emergency status nationwide has been “withdrawn, revoked or canceled and shall no longer be in effect” since the Philippines maintained “sufficient healthcare system capacity” and “low hospital bed utilization rates” as it gradually eased in COVID-19 health protocols.
“This new development is a significant step towards normalizing public transportation and supporting economic recovery,” Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said in a statement.
“While public safety remains a top priority, the removal of protocols aims to facilitate commuters’ convenience, contribute to the revival of the transportation industry, and help stimulate economic activity,” he added.
To prevent the potential virus spread, Bautista said that the agency would ensure frequent sanitization of public transportation units.