As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep across the world and rack up alarming numbers of new confirmed cases day by day, private, national and international health agencies have given so many tips and protocols for keeping oneself safe from being infected by COVID-19 that they might make the head spin. From the overall general guideline of physical distancing between persons to reduce the chance infection, there have been a multitude of specific regulations enacted such as the prohibition of motorcycle riders from allowing passengers to pillion, or “back” ride. But as quarantine levels continue to de-escalate in the Philippines, such strict restrictions also have started being pulled back.
Inquirer.net has it that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) has decided that tandem riding for motorcycles will once again be allowed for riders this coming weekend. On Thursday, July 9, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año announced the return of back-riding for motorcycle owners, but with the continued maintenance of other health protocols in mind. Furthermore, Año specifies that only couples will be allowed to do pillion riding and thus must carry identification to confirm their relation.
The Interior Secretary – who is Vice-Chairman of the IATF – also made mention of a “prototype model” safety protocol for motorcycles in Bohol that was submitted by provincial Governor Arthur Yap. Said model employs the installation of a transparent divider between the motorcycle rider seat and the cushion for rear passenger. The divider, which apparently can sit balanced on the vehicle, also includes handlebars for the back-ride to hold onto, in place of the rider himself. The National Task Force (NTF) has signed off on the proposed motorcycle division prototype, though there has been no word on when it might be implemented on a wider scale.
Even if this motorcycle divider is adopted for general use, the rider and passenger are still obliged to follow all other standing health protocols, wearing both a facemask and motorcycle crash helmet. To be considered a couple, the rider and passenger must either be married or, in the case of living-in, must prove via ID that they share the same address. The announcement of the return of back-riding for motorcycles effective July 10 proves true the earlier pronouncement by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque about new guidelines drafted to allow this transportation arrangement again amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and quarantines.
Image courtesy of Philippine Star