Has the newer ‘new normal’ arrived?

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The new ‘new normal’ may be here. At least for those covering the motoring beat. And in how the automotive sector is working under health protocols imposed by health and transport authorities.

Perhaps this is also true for mass transport and communities, especially after the latest issuance from the IATF that further eased restrictions on travel between provinces and regions whether under general community quarantine or modified general community quarantine.

According to government pronouncements, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has approved new uniform travel protocols.

In official press statements and in press conferences, authorities said “travelers shall no longer be required to undergo COVID-19 testing except if the local government unit (LGU) of destination will make testing as a requirement prior to travel. Testing will be limited to RT-PCR test.”

They added that travelers “shall no longer undergo quarantine unless they exhibit symptoms upon arrival at the LGU of destination.”

However, authorities will “continue to strictly implement the minimum public health standards, such as physical distancing, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and wearing of face masks and face shields across all settings.”

More significant may be the pronouncement that travel authority issued by the Joint Task Force COVID Shield and health certificates will no longer be required.

So is happy motoring part of the new new normal? Are we free to travel or motor around without the need of expensive swab tests or going around to get those barangay passes or health certificates?

The palace said yes! But please take note that LGUs still have a stay on requiring testing prior to travel. So take to find out what LGUs require for those planning to motor or travel to their places.

BMW 4 Series launched

That the new new normal is here may be signalled by SMC Asia Car Distributors Corp., official importer and distributor of BMW in the Philippines, gathering media together to witness the launch of the all-new BMW 4 Series Coupé.

It was a physical launch and not a digital debut.

Motoring media friends were certainly happy to again be afforded the chance to be with peers to witness the launch of the latest offerings in the local auto market.

This is especially true with the launch of the likes of the all-new BMW 4 Series.

BMW said two all-new 4 Series variants will be available locally, the 420i Model Advantage and the 420i M Sport.

Both are longer, wider, and taller than than their predecessor and feature a distinctive new front grille.

And both are offered with 2.0-liter BMW TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder gasoline engine paired with an eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission with the M Sport variant getting an added Steptronic Sport function.

The all-new BMW 420i Model Advantage is priced at P3,990,000 while the BMW 420i M Sport is priced at P4,590,000.

CITY scenic drive

Also signaling the arrival of new normal is Honda Cars Philippines Inc. (HCPI) conducting a media test drive of its latest offering, the all-new City.

Members of media were invited to a scenic drive on the bustling streets of Metro Manila and the picturesque winding roads of Tanay, Rizal and Antipolo City.

The media test drive featured the entire lineup of the all-new City from the 1.5 V CVT to 1.5 S CVT variants, allowing media to experience the comfort, power, fuel efficiency, and advanced technologies in Honda’s subcompact sedan.

Media test drives conducted with strict health protocols may be part of the new normal in the automotive industry.

In this particular ride and drive event, Honda said it implemented health and safety protocols such as social distancing and wearing of facemasks and face shields, while also providing personalized safety kits to participants.

Honda said it also conducted antigen testing on participants and extensive vehicle disinfection procedures prior to the drive.

Earlier, Kia Philippines also hosted a group media test drive of its own for Stonic which also included strict health protocols and Covid-19 tests.

Modernizing railways

Part of the new normal for mass transport will see continuous development of rail projects and a shift to digitalization, according to the Department of Transportation.

At a recent virtual media briefing, DOTr and rail transport officials reported that a number of big-ticket railway infrastructure projects will be completed, or will have partial operations this year and before the end of President Duterte’s term in 2022.

These include LRT-2 East (Masinag) Extension, MRT-3 Rehabilitation, Common Station, LRT-1 Cavite Extension, MRT-7, PNR Clark Phase 1, key facilities of the Metro Manila Subway Project, and the Mindanao Rail Project.

DOTr Undersecretary for Railways TJ Batan said the development of railways is one of the main solutions to the problem of traffic congestion in Metro Manila.

Batan said the annual direct economic cost of congestion in Metro Manila stands at P1.277 trillion.

The DOTr said that the railway sector is also addressing the problem of reducing the risk of Covid-19 transmission with emphasis on strictly implementing health and safety protocols in each railway line, including testing, contact tracing, and isolation of transport personnel affected by the disease.

Clarifying PVMIC issue

The DOTr and the Land Transportation Office clarified several issues related to president’s directive not to make mandatory the vehicle inspection at Private Motor Vehicle Inspection Centers (PMVICs).

The clarification was made after Sen. Grace Poe raised the question of whether or not the DOTr and the LTO have issued memorandums or circular to put the presidential directive into effect.

The DOTr said an official LTO Memorandum dated 11 February 2021 was issued specifically directing “LTO regional directors and personnel concerned to ensure the strict implementation of the President’s order to make vehicle inspection from PMVICs non-mandatory, as well as the directive of the DOTr on lowered PMVIC inspection fees.”

It added that last February 12, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also made a clarificatory announcement  that what is not mandatory is the inspection through a PMVIC, not the vehicle inspection itself. 

The February 11 memorandum also said that “since the GAOR of PMVICs have been withdrawn and inspection by them no longer mandatory, and therefore optional, inspection may again by performed by LTO inspectors and emission testing conducted by PETCs.”

Happy Motoring!!!

For comments & inquiries email [email protected] or visit www.motoringtoday.ph.

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