Mass transportation suspended in Luzon

Aika Rey
Mass transportation suspended in Luzon
(UPDATED) 'If there's no public transportation, [ride a private car], or you have to walk,' says Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – All forms of public transportation will be suspended starting Tuesday, March 17 at 12 midnight, after the Philippine government placed the island of Luzon under an “enhanced community quarantine” to battle the spread of the coronavirus.

At the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) briefing, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, now the official talking head of the IATF, said that anything that falls under land, air, and sea travel will be suspended.

“The idea here is to keep people at home. Don’t try to dwell on the exemptions,” Nograles said.

The Cabinet Secretary said there will be no jeepneys, buses, taxis, railways, or anything that equates to public transportation. The suspension includes sedan-hailing services and motorcycle taxis.

People are discouraged from leaving their homes, except to buy food, medicine, and other necessities.

“If there’s no public transportation, [ride a private car], or you have to walk,” Nograles said.

Exemptions

President Rodrigo Duterte announced Tuesday night that the entire island, home to over 57 million, will be under a total lockdown to reduce the movement of people, as the initial Metro Manila-wide quarantine seemingly didn’t work. (READ: Day 1 of Metro Manila lockdown: Different checkpoints, different rules)

Health workers, security forces, and the media are among those exempted from the travel ban.

Asked how these people can travel from one place to another, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said that this will be up to local governments to provide transportation, but qualified that this should be “commensurate to those who will use.”

“We dont want to operate more public utility vehicles because that will encourage people to move. We want to restrict the movement of people to the maximum,” Año said.

Deliveries

Under the lockdown guidelines, there will be no restaurants for people to dine in, with services restricted only to “food preparation and delivery.”

Asked whether online food delivery services can continue to operate, Nograles said they are inclined to allow delivery services straight from the restaurant itself, then he cut himself short to say, “In case of doubt, no.”

Earlier Monday evening, Duterte said that people could still go to carinderias, or neighborhood eateries, to eat. But Año said: “Yung carinderia kung meron silang delivery service, okay ‘yun. Pero kung yung tao pupunta para kumain, hindi puwede ‘yun.”

(If the carinderias have delivery service, then that’s okay. But if people go there to eat, that can’t be.)

Grab’s food and parcel

In a statement on Tuesday, Grab Philippines said it resumed its food and parcel delivery operations, GrabFood and GrabExpress, with a “skeleton delivery fleet.”

“Upon careful assessment of the situation on ground and after discussing with our regulators, we have resumed GrabFood and GrabExpress operations as of 1:30pm today, March 17, with skeletal delivery-fleet,” Grab said.

“The decision was made to support the food establishments that will continue to operate and maintain continuous flow of goods to serve the essential needs of Filipinos during these trying times,” it added.

Grab Philippines said that delivery-partners “are advised” to prioritize safety and wear full GrabFood gear. Contact-less delivery will be implemented.

“We will continue to exercise strict safety measures such as contactless delivery, temperature checks, increased cleaning frequency of delivery-bags, and more in cooperation with our merchant-partners,” Grab said. – Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.