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The Department of Tourism (DOT) has issued the New Normal Health and Safety Guidelines for Tourist Land Transport Services covering transport operators/owners, passengers, vehicles, and drivers.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat signed Memorandum Circular No. 2020-003 on June 5, 2020, in accordance with the Omnibus Guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the country.

“These important guidelines highlight our ‘safety-first’ policy to ensure the well-being and security of our visitors,” said the tourism chief.

Section 8 of the guidelines is emphatic on the No Mask, No Boarding policy, stating that “Passengers not wearing masks shall not be allowed to board the vehicle.”

Passengers must comply with the Social Distancing policy, or the strict maintenance of a distance of at least one-meter radius between persons, and Passenger Limit Guidelines set by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to avoid possible contact.

In a car or sedan, no passenger may sit beside the driver; only two passengers at the back row with one seat apart, and there can be no more than three passengers, including the driver.

Only two passengers per row are allowed in a van, except for the driver’s row, where only one passenger may occupy the passenger’s seat. There should be a waterproof barrier between the driver and the passenger.

Meanwhile, buses and coasters can accommodate only 50 percent of the vehicle’s total capacity. A waterproof transparent barrier is also required, and passengers must be one seat apart. No standing passengers shall be allowed.

All tourist vehicles must have a thermometer gun, basic first-aid kits, and sanitation kits with 70 percent solution alcohol or alcohol-based hand sanitizer and tissue paper or disposable wet wipes, for the free use of passengers.

The guidelines also require the deep cleaning and proper disinfection and sanitation of vehicles before and after every use, especially the frequently touched surfaces such as seats, armrests, door handles, light, and air controls.

The transport service should be well ventilated, and air conditioning shall be on non-recirculated mode to maximize air changes that reduce potentially infectious particles in the vehicle.

Under the guidelines, transport operators and owners must monitor their employees’ body temperature every time they report to work. They are required to install a safety bulletin board to maintain a display of safety and health-related information in the working area and ensure cleanliness within its office premises, including the garage. They are encouraged to provide health benefit options for all employees. Health check-up for drivers and staff is now mandatory.

At the same time, drivers must observe personal hygiene and proper grooming. They must be in uniform and should wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), complete with face masks and gloves, provided by their transport operator. Drivers should avoid physical contact with passengers and observe physical distancing at all times.

Drivers must also practice proper respiratory etiquette. If applicable, they should open the windows to air out the vehicle after every trip. An itinerary or trip ticket must be accomplished for every trip for proper documentation and reference.

Waste materials on board shall be kept in a clean and hygienic condition. A separate trash bag for all gloves, facemasks, PPEs, wet wipes and other sanitation disposables used by the passengers shall be available inside the vehicle.

“Violation of these guidelines may subject the tourism enterprise to the appropriate fines and penalties, including revocation of its DOT Accreditation, in accordance with relevant law and regulations,” said Secretary Puyat.

The tourism chief added that cashless transactions, and other options that involve less physical contact are highly encouraged.

Please click here for the full text of the Memorandum Circular No. 2020-003 (https://tinyurl.com/y8ctblrk).

Published:March 10, 2021

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