Memos from Asia

Philippine COVID Task Force Backtracks on Motorcycle Barrier Idea

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Quezon City, Philippines – July 28, 2020: Motorcycle riders wait at an intersection for the stoplight to turn green.

Every country is trying its best to adapt to the new normal set up that we are forced to live in because of the whole COVID pandemic situation. Governments have been trying to implement new protocols such as wearing face masks and face shields, social distancing, and limiting business hours to encourage people to stay in.

In the Philippines, where the number of cases has been increasing daily, some additional measures were implemented.

One of which is the motorcycle barrier requirement that has caused adverse feedbacks from the citizens.

Motorcycle Barriers

Motorcycles are cheap and faster alternatives for travel in the Philippines. Since most brands and models cost relatively cheaper than cars, the majority consider it as a means of transportation. With the heavy traffic in the country, it is also considerably faster to travel with a motorcycle. A lot of restaurants and delivery companies also use this to transport goods.

Families with many members are driving from the mountain villages to Dalaguete City on motorcycles. Dalaguete is a municipality in the province of Cebu, Philippines.

When the country eased into general community quarantine from the enhanced community quarantine last June, the government’s Joint Task Force (JTF) COVID Shield, a task force made to implement COVID protective protocols during the pandemic, required the motorcycles to procure a “protective barrier” if they have passengers who will back-ride on their motorcycle. This barrier is basically plastic with a steel frame that is to be put in between the driver and the passenger. (Inquirer,

Negative Reactions

The citizens opposed this idea since they felt it was unnecessary and dangerous. Unnecessary because the only people allowed to back-ride during the general community quarantine are live-in partners or spouses. People are arguing that these people are still sharing the same home, even if you put a barrier between them during the ride. Also, they have pointed out how this could be dangerous considering how this barrier could throw the driver and the passenger off balance during the transport. (Philstar,

Cancelled Implementation

Because of the backlash it received, the implementation was rescheduled many times until it was finally scrapped last August 19. There were disappointments from a lot of motorists since they have already invested in buying them, only to know that they were suddenly no longer required. (CNN,

Although it should be applauded that the task force listened and acknowledged the plea of the public, a lot felt that they should have seen these constraints before even before public dissemination. In this financially tough time, an additional expense that is rendered useless is difficult to accept.

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