MANILA, Philippines – The head of the law enforcement arm of the government’s coronavirus task force warned malls they would face closure if physical distancing is not practiced at their establishments.
There were reports of long lines and crowds at malls on Saturday, May 16, the first day of Metro Manila’s shift to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ). Streets were also noticeably busier as lockdown restrictions were eased after two months.
Police Lieutenant General Guillermo Eleazar, commander of Joint Task Force (JTF) COVID Shield, said on Sunday, May 17, that names of malls with violations have been forwarded to concerned police commanders in their areas.
“These commanders were instructed to warn the management of these malls and make sure that the warning be personally relayed to the mall management and other similar establishments,” Eleazar said in a statement.
There would be consequences, the police official said, if malls still do not comply.
“As per instruction of [Interior Secretary Eduardo Año], we will not only facilitate the closure of these malls but will also initiate the filing of appropriate charges against the management,” Eleazar said.
He added that cops have been told to monitor the movement of people inside malls “to ensure that the basic rules on physical distancing and wearing of face masks are observed.”
Under the rules, the number of people at common areas of a mall should be limited to one person for every two square meters. Each shop should also control the number of people going inside.
Shoppers will have to line up outside the mall and wait for their turn to enter if the maximum capacity is reached.
Aside from Metro Manila, also under MECQ until May 31 are Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Zambales, Angeles City, and Laguna. Meanwhile, Cebu City and Mandaue City are under ECQ, and the rest of the country under general community quarantine. (DOCUMENT: Omnibus guidelines on modified ECQ, modified GCQ)
As of Sunday, the Philippines has 12,513 coronavirus cases, with 824 deaths and 2,635 recoveries. – Rappler.com