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Solon seeks to allow household members to ride together

A PARTY-LIST  lawmaker on Thursday appealed to the Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to amend its guidelines on physical distancing to allow private motorists, including motorcycle riders, to ferry passengers who are members of their household.

According to Ang Probinsyano party-list Rep. Ronnie Ong, it doesn’t make sense that people who are living, eating and sleeping together in the same house should be apprehended for being in the same vehicle or for riding together in a motorcycle for supposed violation of the rules on physical distancing set by the IATF.

“People living in the same house don’t obviously observe physical distancing when they are in their own house so it really makes no sense at all that they would be prevented from riding together in a private car or in a motorcycle,” Ong noted.

Ong particularly cited several cases where policemen manning checkpoints had forced motorcycle riders to turn around and leave their own relatives behind who are also working as medical frontliners.

Ong said that this physical distancing rule inside private vehicles and motorcycles should only apply to those who are not part of the household.

This could be easily checked by simple identification verification, he said. “Nakakaawa yung mga iniiwan na mga frontliners sa ating mga checkpoints kasi hindi sila maaaring ihatid ng kanilang sariling pamilya dahil labag daw ito sa social distancing. Eh kapag nasa bahay naman ang mga yan eh talaga namang magkakasama ang mga yan at magkakatabi pa sa higaan,” Ong lamented.

Ong said that if and when most of the country goes from its present state of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) where people can already go out and attend to their livelihood, the rule on physical distancing will remain in effect.

It is therefore important for the IATF to review and simplify its guidelines on physical distancing to allow citizens to finally attend to their livelihood, Ong pointed out.

However, Ong said that law enforcement authorities should continue to disallow motorcycle riders from taking passengers who are not part of their household especially in Metro Manila, which remains to be the country’s coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) hotspot.

Private cars can allow “non-household passengers” but social distancing rules should strictly apply, Ong added.