It seems authorities have come to realize that easing community quarantine protocols has it risks.
The fear that opening up the economy and getting industries and service sectors back on track would lead to a surge in Covid-19 has come true.
The number of cases reported daily has risen to new record levels, especially in Metro Manila.
The local governments responded with curfews and a liquor ban.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has also responded with orders for stricter implementation of health protocols inside public transport vehicles and in terminals nationwide.
This was followed by the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (I-ACT) enjoining passengers, as well as drivers, operators, and conductors, to be on high-alert and strictly observe the health and safety protocols aboard all modes of public transportation.
Public transport is among possible vectors of transmission, and the I-ACT warns public transport operators of the consequences of lax implementation of health protocols.
“We are taking COVID-19 very seriously. The task force will show no leniency to PUV drivers who fail to implement health protocols aboard their unit at the expense of their passengers’ lives,” said I-ACT Task Force Chief and DOTr Assistant Secretary for Special Concerns B/Gen. Manuel Gonzales (Ret.) in a press statement.
In the same statement, I-ACT took pains to say it has not been remiss in its duties to ensure health protocols in public transport are strictly observed.
These include wearing of face masks and face shields, social distancing, frequent disinfection of vehicles, no talking or answering phones, good ventilation, no taking on passengers showing symptoms of the Covid-19 virus.
But it admitted that “even with I-ACT’s continuous operations in enforcing the health protocols, the task force noticed that violations of the above regulations still are being committed by PUV drivers and conductors, as proven unfortunately by the random daily inspection of the task force on roads and highways inside and outside NCR.”
It cited that “from January to February 2021 alone, the I-ACT task force has apprehended a total of 517 PUV drivers for breach of health provisions in LTO MC 2020-2185 and/or DOTr MC 2020-014.”
Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said commuters should also take responsibility in stopping the spread of Coronavirus.
“We need everyone’s cooperation. We cannot do this alone. Sa mga pasahero, drayber, at operator, magtulungan po tayong lahat. Maging responsable tayo at maging disiplinado,” Tugade said in another press statement.
Meanwhile, many are calling on authorities to implement an effective and unified contact tracing system to track surges in cases so as not to necessitate metro-wide or region-wide lockdowns.
Still everything boils down to individuals to take personal responsibility to prevent getting infected and, more importantly, to prevent infecting others.
That said, it may be unwise to say, but observers note that the auto sector could benefit from the fear of getting infected in public transport. People fear getting infected while taking public transport and prefer personal mobility which is just another way saying they would prefer to travel safe in the bubble of their own cars.
Auto manufacturers and distributors are now quite active in offering new forms of personal mobility.
Meet the FX4 Max
Ford Philippines has rolled out the Ranger FX4 Max that offers off-road driving capabilities inspired by the Raptor while still offering Ranger comfort, safety and versatility.
“The Ranger FX4 MAX is definitely a strong addition to our growing Ranger portfolio and further boosts the off-road capabilities of our trucks,” said PK Umashankar, president and managing director, Ford Philippines, in a press statement.
“It is the perfect pickup for customers who seek adventures as it is equipped with features that offer confidence and convenience in taking on the roads less traveled,” he added.
What adds some max attraction to the FX4 Max? Among the highlights are new two-inch monotube FOX shock absorbers in both front and rear to provide an off-road stance and capability, 17-inch alloy wheels with BFGoodrich all-terrain tires, an auxiliary switch pack that gives FX4 MAX owners the ability to easily connect and operate auxiliary accessories and equipment in a seamless and integrated solution.
Vios Gazoo Racing upgrade
Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) just gave the Vios some racing cred with the introduction of the Vios GR-S.
For the unfortunate few who don’t know it yet, GR stands for Gazoo Racing, a Toyota division specializing in developing Toyota’s lineup of products built with racing DNA.
In a press statement, Toyota said the Vios GR-S is a motorsports-inspired reinvention of the locally-manufactured passenger car.
Toyota said the introduction of the Vios GR-S signals its intention “to make sportier options available for racing fans and motorsports enthusiasts who want to express this passion through their daily drivers.”
The Vios GR-S features the prestigious GR emblem, a sporty front bumper and grille, aerokit, and spoiler. A sporty cockpit features leather with red stitching on the steering wheel, shift lever and knob material, and seats with suede/synthetic leather with red stitching.
The Vios GR-S rollout also comes with the promise of resuming Toyota’s premier one-make-race, the Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Cup in July of this year if cleared by health authorities.
Meanwhile, as racing afionados await fulfillment of this promise of a return to real circuit racing, Toyota is launching the second season of the on-line GR GT Cup.
Volkswagen T-Cross to arrive
Volkswagen Philippines will be bringing in the new T-Cross to battle it out in the highly competitive local subcompact SUV market.
At the recent virtual media roundtable discussion attended by over a hundred motoring peeps, VW Philippines broadly hinted that the T-Cross would be launched within the next few months.
In a press statement, Volkswagen Philippines said the T-Cross is Volkswagen’s first subcompact SUV which is produced in three key facilities worldwide—Brazil, China, and Germany.
It added that the T-Cross has garnered exceptional sales performance across worldwide markets following its simultaneous launch in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Sao Paulo in Brazil, and Shanghai in China.
VW execs said the T-Cross that will be brought to local shores will be made in China.
But this shouldn’t faze buyers as all Volkswagen, whether rolled out in European or Asian factories, carry a guarantee of being built in a “production facility which is engineered and designed under Volkswagen’s high tolerance for quality and safety in order to ensure that the badge speaks of the unmistakable Volkswagen quality.”
VW execs also said that aside from the T-Cross, two other models will be introduced this year.
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