VAX IN DRUG STORES. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (right) administers a Covid-19 booster shot to a woman during the ceremonial rollout of the ‘Resbakuna sa Botika’ program at the Mercury Drug Leon Guinto branch in Manila on Thursday (Jan. 20, 2022). The government has partnered with major pharmacies and clinic networks to boost the inoculation of booster shots against Covid-19. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Jan 21 (Mabuhay) — Exempting essential workers from the “no vaccine, no ride” policy in public transportation in the National Capital Region (NCR) has been part of the order since it began on Monday, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) clarified Thursday.

In a statement, the DOTr said exemptions to the policy were for those with medical conditions that prevent full Covid-19 vaccination and those who will acquire essential goods and services which includes work.

“Ang pagbibigay po ng exemption sa mga essential workers ay hindi bagong protocol na ipinatupad matapos simulan ang implementasyon ng polisiya. Iyan po ay talagang nakapaloob sa polisiya (Giving exemptions to essential workers is not a new protocol in the implementation of the policy. It is part of the policy),” the DOTr said.

The exemptions follow the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) on what essential industries are under Alert Level 3.

Prior to its implementation, the policies had been cascaded to enforcers and partners at the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (I-ACT), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), PNP Highway Patrol Group, and the NCR Police Office.

“Ang polisya ay epektibo habang ang Metro Manila ay nasa Alert Level 3 o mataas pa (The policy is effective while Metro Manila is under Alert Level 3 or higher),” the DOTr said.

In response to criticisms that the policy is anti-poor, the department said medical experts have warned that the unvaccinated are the most vulnerable to severe Covid-19 infections, which may further expose other individuals and increase the burden on the country’s healthcare system.

“Kung mayroong pagdami ng virus transmission sa pampublikong transportasyon, mapipilitan kaming isara ito. At ang pinaka-apektado ay ang mga nasa lower-income bracket (If there will be an increase in virus transmission in public transport, we will be forced to shut it down. And who will be most affected are those in the lower-income bracket),” the DOTr said.

Meanwhile, a mobile vaccination drive for transport workers is set to be held at the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) from January 24 to 28.

AstraZeneca doses will be available in first, second, and booster doses to all transport workers and passengers who wish to participate in the event. (MNS)

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