‘No vax, no ride’ policy a go on Jan 17

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A SYSTEMS-WIDE enforcement of the “no vax, no ride” policy will push through on January 17 to cover all modes of transportation facilities and terminals in Metro Manila, transportation officials said Friday.

In a press briefing, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) issued Department Order 2022-001, banning unvaccinated individuals from taking rides will cover the rail system, bus and jeepney transport stations, maritime and aviation passenger terminal hubs in a bid a curb the surge in Covid-19 cases.

DoTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said major transport organizations, including the Philippine Airlines (PAL) and AirAsia Philippines, have expressed willingness to comply with the policy.

Ricky Isla, AirAsia Philippines chief executive officer, said they will abide by the new guidelines for fully vaccinated and non-vaccinated guests.

AirAsia clarified that it will still fly non-vaccinated travelers with medical conditions that prevent them from getting full Covid-19 vaccination, as likewise stipulated in the Transportation department’s order. This is on the condition that they present duly signed medical certificates and their physician’s contact information.

Gilbert Santa Maria, PAL president and chief operating officer, lauded the DoTr’s policy and guaranteed that the airline would continue to uphold safety standards and health protocols in its operations.

For his part, PAL Express president Bonifacio Sam stated that they support the department and the country’s air transport sector in preserving important air services, promoting the delivery of essential goods, including Covid-19 vaccines, and assisting overseas Filipino workers and those going to their hometowns.

The DoTr said it has directed the Land Transportation Office and the Land Transportation, Franchising and Regulatory Board, the Light Rail Transit Authority, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and the Maritime Industry Authority to ensure compliance with the policy.

These agencies will also be augmented by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group and traffic enforcers of the local government units of Metro Manila.

Jay Daniel Santiago, PPA general manager, said he has ordered the shipping lines and PPA facilities outside Metro Manila to require proof of vaccination on passengers bound for the metropolis.

Port personnel, Santiago said, will be overseeing the daily 10,000 average passengers going in through the maritime terminal in North Harbor.

DoTr Undersecretary Timothy John Batan said only vaccinated passengers are going to be allowed to board the terminals of the Philippine National Railways and Light and Metro Rail Transit stations.