Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 9) – Back riding or arrow cycling on motorcycles for couples who live together will be allowed from Friday, July 10, provided there is a protective shield between the riders, officials said Thursday.
Spokesman for the New Diseases Management Agency, spokesman Harry Roque Jr. Told CNN Philippines in a text message earlier Thursday that the new policy will apply on Saturday. In his press conference later in the day, he said it will begin on Friday.
He explained that the policy is subject to approval by the National Task Force Against COVID-19, which he said “will come tomorrow.”
Only for married couples?
Roque emphasized that only married spouses are allowed to go together, citing as his sources Home Secretary Eduardo Año, IATF Vice President and Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., National Task Force chief’s implementer.
“Right now, Secretary Año and Secretary Galvez have reached me, limited to couples,” Roque told reporters under his press.[Translation: For now, what Secretary Año and Secretary Galvez have relayed to me is that back riding is only allowed for married couples.]
When asked if siblings and living partners are covered by the policy, Roque replied: “Not yet, because clinging is for couples first,” Roque added.[Translation: No, because initially the clamor is to allow married couples.]
However, Año later clarified that cohabiting couples may go. He added that the National Task Force may also consider allowing live-in partners from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community to return.
“‘Yun muna, belly start said married couple, general law husband and wife, many live-in partners,” he told CNN Philippines’ News Night.[Translation: We’ll start first with married couples, common-law husband and wife, and live-in partners]
The barrier for the motorcycle may be like the prototype plastic shield proposed by Bohol Governor Arthur Yap, Roque said.
“There is a handle on the side of the barrier and past the barrier head to ensure that no saliva is removed,” Año said separately.[Translation: The barrier is not higher than the driver, and has a handle that a passenger can hold on to. This is ensure no saliva droplets are spread.]
Couples must also wear face masks, helmets and follow speed limits, officials added.
Año said married couples will be asked to present ID or marriage certificates at quarantine checkpoints or to law enforcement, while laws in general must show documents proving that they share the same address.
“There must be evidence somewhere, probably about ID na lang, can address said ID nila (ID with their address) and they live at the same address,” he said. “They can actually get a certificate from the barangay that they live in that particular house.”
Those who do not meet these requirements will be punished in accordance with applicable rules and regulations, he added.
Since March, local officials have urged policy makers on the COVID-19 response to reconsider its non-back-riding policy, which they implemented to keep people away from the virus.
The working group has previously rejected the requests, citing security and enforcement issues.