Filipinos’ mall culture under threat due to coronavirus lockdowns

Pia Ranada
Filipinos’ mall culture under threat due to coronavirus lockdowns
Loitering in malls will be prohibited under general community quarantine – a major adjustment for mall-loving Filipinos

MANILA, Philippines – A beloved Filipino past-time, mall-going, will be close to non-existent under quarantine measures and will likely never be the same until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed.

This is because loitering or hanging out in malls will be prohibited even under general community quarantine (GCQ), the most relaxed form of quarantine imposed by the Philippine government.

“Even under GCQ, we are prohibiting standby or loitering around the mall,” said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez on Saturday, May 2, during a Laging Handa virtual press briefing.

“The instruction is, since we are still under quarantine, just do necessary errands. Just buy what you need from the stores that are open,” he continued.

The government may even ask malls to increase the temperature of their airconditioning, in a bid to discourage mall-goers from lingering.

“We have also advised the malls to bring up the temperature,” said Lopez.

Increasing the temperature in malls to 26 degrees Celsius has been mentioned by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in several interviews.

Apart from this, malls will be required to enforce social distancing, to require face masks, and conduct body temperature-scanning. 

The new guidelines mean a major adjustment for many Filipinos who consider mall-going an indispensable leisure activity.

Families and friends can spend hours in malls, often fully-airconditioned, all-in-one establishments with food, retail stores, and cinemas. The mall has become a part of Philippine culture and an ubiquitous aspect of urban lifestyles.

Even when malls are allowed to open under GCQ, only “non-leisure” stores can operate. These include hardware stores, and clothing and accessory stores. Spas, salons, barbershops, and other personal care establishments will also be allowed if they enforce social distancing and health protocols.

Restaurants can only open for take-out and delivery.

President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire country under quarantine from May 1 to 15. While Metro Manila, parts of Luzon, and major cities and provinces in Visayas and Mindanao are under the strictest form of quarantine, the rest of the country is under GCQ. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.