MANILA, Philippines – Supermarkets, drugstores, and similar establishments should not require customers to wear face masks, said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on Monday, March 23.
Nograles, also the spokesperson of the government’s Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases, said such establishments are only required to maintain physical distancing in their premises.
Physical distancing, or what the government calls “social distancing,” is maintaining ample space between people to prevent contagion. The IATF recommends staying at least one meter away from other people.
“Wala naman kaming inilabas na patakaran mula sa [IATF] na kailangang magsuot ng mask bago pumasok sa mga supermarket, ano po? Ang amin lamang patakaran, ang rules lang po natin, magkaroon ng social distancing sa mga supermarkets…. So ganoon na lang po ang sundin natin,” Nograles said in the government’s Laging Handa televised briefing.
(We never put out such a rule from the IATF that requires face masks when entering the supermarket, right? Our only directive, our only rule is to have social distancing in supermarkets…. So that’s all we have to follow.)
Nograles was responding to a question sent in by a reporter, asking whether it was right that some supermarkets and drugstores were not letting people without face masks enter their establishments.
The reporter, whose question was read out by Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Martin Andanar, pointed out that face masks were in short supply, and many stores don’t have them in stock either.
Nograles said only physical distancing is necessary inside stores, and it is up to the store managers to limit the number of people entering so that this can be practiced.
People are urged to stay home as much as possible, with only one person per household designated and authorized to step out and buy food and supplies.
Most businesses are closed except for essential ones like supermarkets and drugstores, where people sometimes queue for hours to wait for their turn to enter and shop.
The Philippines has 396 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Monday morning. The confirmed cases include 33 deaths and 18 recoveries. – Rappler.com