IATF to revisit face mask policy inside cars; fines waived for now

Updated Feb 04, 2021 | Same topic: COVID-19 Updates

All drivers are still required to wear face masks when having passengers in the meantime.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) is set to review its current policy that mandates the wearing of face masks inside vehicles, eight months after it was implemented by the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

IATF Face mask policy

The mandatory wearing of face masks inside private vehicles is up for review

In a virtual press briefing held on February 2, LTO Secretary Edgar Galvante announced that the IATF could revisit the requirement, especially as applied to private vehicles. “Ang ini-implement po natin is, private vehicle na merong sakay na dalawa, eh nire-require ng face mask. Wala po kaming nakita na nagdi-differentiate whether yung sakay nung vehicle eh nakatira sa isang tahanan o magkahiwalay,” he said.

(The face mask policy being implemented also applies to private vehicles with two occupants or more. However, we find it hard to differentiate whether a private vehicle’s occupants all live under one roof or not)

>>> Related: Here’s why you should still wear face mask even when driving

DOTr virtual presser

In a virtual press briefing, the LTO says it will abide by any adjustments made by the IATF

According to Galvante, the rule remains in force across all modes of transport pending the outcome of the review, but fines for non-compliance will be suspended for now.

Erring motorists will merely be reprimanded and reminded to follow minimum public health protocols. He adds that his agency will comply with whatever adjustments the IATF and Department of Health (DOH) will endorse.  

In May 2020, the LTO released Memorandum Circular 2020-2185 stipulating minimum health measures for private and public transportation, based on recommendations by the IATF to curb the spread of COVID-19.

One contentious provision requires private vehicle owners to wear face masks at all times, even with family members on board who presumably belong to the same household.

>>> Related: 10 tips for car drivers to deal with COVID-19

Night checkpoint

Violators won't have to pay the fine in the meantime

Violating this particular requirement falls under reckless driving as defined by the LTO’s Joint Administrative Order 2014-01, and carries a fine of Php 2,000 for the first offense, Php 3,000 for the second offense, and Php 10,000 for every succeeding instance. The LTO has since clarified that the order does not cover drivers who are traveling alone.

One private motorist was meted the penalty for driving without a face mask despite having his wife and daughter on board. After his experience was shared on social media, many questioned the point of requiring face masks in the company of people they share the same living space with.

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Joseph Paolo Estabillo

Joseph Paolo Estabillo

Author

Joseph has been a member of various car clubs since he got his driver's license in 2004 – old enough to remember riding in taxicabs with analog meters, but his fascination with cars goes way back. After nearly two decades of working in broadcast media, he shifted gears by coming on board as Philkotse’s first Filipino member and staff writer in 2017.

Apart from his role in Philkotse as Content Team Lead, Joseph has written episodes for Drive, which has been airing on CNN Philippines for five seasons running. He has also delivered content for various car dealerships based in the U.S., spanning multiple brands such as Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Jeep, Dodge, among others.

Keeping his hopes high and his revs low, he dreams about owning a Kei car when he retires. Hates slow parkers.

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