June 16, 2021

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Philippines Relaxes Public Transport Limits Despite Covid Uptick

Shopping and Entertainment at the SM Mall of Asia Complex

Photographer: Veejay Villafranca/Bloomberg

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The Philippines will ease distancing rules in public transport and may allow more businesses to operate at full capacity, despite daily coronavirus cases hitting a four-week high.

Buses and trains are allowed to sit passengers one-seat apart, even if it’s less than the one-meter distance the government requires, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said. Trains can also operate at half capacity, and commuters may eventually be allowed to sit beside each other as long as there’s a barrier.

Economic managers have been pushing to further reopen public transport to ferry more people to work to help stimulate the economy that Central Bank Governor Benjamin Diokno said may shrink by up to 9% this year. The nation is also considering shorter curfew hours to allow more work shifts, Roque said.

The movement restrictions are being eased even as the Philippines remains to have the worst outbreak in Southeast Asia, reporting some 3,500 cases on Monday — the highest since mid-September.

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