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MANILA, Philippines – The “no vaccination, no ride” policy in Metro Manila takes full effect on Monday, January 17, as the country continues to log record-high numbers due to the Omicron-fueled surge.
Under Department Order (DO) No. 2022-001, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said that only fully vaccinated persons are allowed to board any mode of public transportation.
An individual is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after he or she has received a shot of a one-dose vaccine or the second dose of a two-dose vaccine. Passengers need to show proof of vaccination to drivers or transport workers before being allowed to board public transportation.
On Monday, traffic enforcers and the police will start checking buses and jeepneys to see if drivers are compliant with the order.
The DOTr also told the public to expect “mystery passengers” or enforcers going “undercover” to check if the policy is being enforced.
But there are also exemptions:
- Unvaccinated people who have medical conditions that prevent them from being inoculated
- Those who need to get essential goods and services
While it is not explicitly mentioned in the DO, the DOTr said that those who are headed to vaccination sites to get inoculated are exempted from this requirement. To be allowed to board, those exempted will be required to show a medical certificate (for those with medical conditions) or a barangay health pass (for those getting essential goods).
If traveling by sea or air, passengers need to show their vaccination cards before being allowed inside the terminal. The same is also required at the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange.
Airlines have either welcomed or said they would comply with the order. Cebu Pacific, for example, said it is offering flexible options until January 31 to unvaccinated persons who would be affected by the public transport ban. Affected passengers have until two hours before the flight to postpone or adjust their travel plans.
According to the DOTr, the burden of ensuring that only vaccinated people are on board public transportation lies with drivers and operators. If unvaccinated passengers are caught without the necessary certification, the driver’s permit to operate or the concession agreement granted could be suspended or revoked.
The policy has been widely criticized by the public, with labor and mobility groups noting that this would be extremely difficult to implement in buses and jeepneys. They also warned that some might resort to using fake vaccination cards.
Responding to criticisms, the department has apologized for any inconvenience the policy may cause, but it has also defended the requirement as being necessary for public safety.
The DOTr reminded people that those who will be using fake IDs may face prison time or fines under the Revised Penal Code, the vaccination law, and related ordinances of the specific city they are in. – Rappler.com