THE government has lifted the ban on back riding for private motorcycles, according to the presidential palace.

The relaxed rules would only apply to couples, Presidential Spokesman Harry L. Roque told an online news briefing on Thursday. Motorcycle taxis are still banned, he added.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año told DZMM radio couples living in the same household may now travel together on motorcycles.

During random checks, couples may show their IDs as proof that they bear the same surname or address. He said there are so many ways to prove that couples live in the same household.

The new protocol will be effective starting Friday. Public health standards and road safety protocols must be followed such as the use of face masks and helmets, and observing the speed limit.

The motorcycle must have a shield between the driver and the back rider. This is based on the prototype proposed by Bohol Governor Arthur C. Yap that featured a motorcycle passenger barrier.

This would ensure physical distancing between the riders. Mr. Roque said motorcycles for hire are still banned.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte locked down the entire Luzon island in mid-March, suspending work, classes and public transportation to contain a coronavirus pandemic. People should stay home except to buy food and other basic goods, he said.

Mr. Duterte extended the strict lockdown for the island twice and thrice for Manila, the capital and nearby cities.

The lockdown in the capital region has since been relaxed, with more businesses allowed to operate with a skeletal workforce. Mass gatherings are still banned. — Gillian M. Cortez