Roque: President Duterte may decide on fate of physical distancing reduction rule on Thursday

(Eagle News) –President Rodrigo Duterte may decide on the fate of the physical distancing reduction rule in public transportation on Thursday, Sept. 17.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in an interview the decision was expected  two days after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases submitted its recommendation to the President after discussions on Tuesday.

According to Roque, present in Tuesday’s meeting were medical experts for and against the reduction of physical distancing to less than one meter.

He said these included former Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit, who was for the reduction provided other health and safety protocols were in place,  and Dr. Antonio Dans of the Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19, who was against.

Cabinet members also gave differing opinions on the rule, which now sees physical distancing among commuters down to 0.75 meters.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III are against the reduction, fearing a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Chief implementer of the national action plan against COVID-19 Carlito Galvez Jr. and Transportation Secretary Art Tugade, on the other hand, defended the rule.

The Department of Transportation has said after two weeks, physical distancing among commuters would be further reduced to 0.5 meters, and then after another two weeks, to 0.3 meters.