'Safety marshals' to patrol Cebu City supermarket aisles

Supermarkets in Cebu City will soon have "safety officers" assigned to enforce the proper wearing of masks and face shields inside the stores' premises.

Emergency Operations Center head Joel Garganera, a Cebu City councilor, told reporters in a virtual press conference on Monday, September 28, that this was to make sure that customers don't take off their protective gears once they are inside the grocery stores. 

"Security officers only check at the door, but once they get inside, customers often pull their face shield over their heads and face masks below their nose or even mouths," Garganera said. 

Garganera reported last September 21 that many of the new cases in Cebu City had visited supermarkets during the period in which they got infected with COVID-19.  

The city councilor said he had met with all supermarket operators in Cebu, including Robinsons, Gaisano, Wellcome, Rustans, SM Supermarket, among others, and all agreed to the proposed safety measure.

In addition to the assignment of marshals, he had asked grocery store owners to digitally encode the contact tracing forms of customers nightly, instead of just keeping them bunched together on paper. 

The city reminded grocery stores to allow only 50% of their capacity to make sure that customers can properly practice physical distancing. It also urged the stores to disinfect carts and aisles at least 3 times a day.

According to the findings of the Emergency Operations Center, at least 24% or 41 of the 168 new infections from outside the household between September 5 and September 18 had visited supermarkets or public markets prior to testing positive for COVID-19. 

As of Monday, Cebu City has 9,975 total coronavirus cases, with 398 active cases, 673 deaths, and 8,904 recoveries.

The city is currently under modified general community quarantine, the least restrictive quarantine status.  – Rappler.com

Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers Cebu and the Visayas for Rappler. He covers all news in the region, but is particularly interested in people stories, development issues and local policy making.