Safe malling so far
May 20, 2020 - Wednesday 4:05 AM by Jimmy Laking
With the probable exception of the province of Cavite, the reopening of malls and business establishments nationwide indicated general compliance in so far as social distancing is concerned.
Indications are that in addition to Metro Manila, key cities in the Philippines complied with safety precautions.
By any yardstick, that would have been a beautiful story. Alas, it is the few strays that are being highlighted by the Manila-based media establishments as if they are the national norm.
On May 18, Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla ordered all malls in his province closed after his constituents literally stormed them when they reopened on May 16 after a two-month lockdown.
To the governor’s horror, the stream of mall goers set aside social distancing and converged freely as in the old days. Fearful of an upsurge in COVID-19 cases, he did not hesitate in closing the malls “until they are able to present plans on how to ensure physical distancing.”
In Quezon City, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez reported there was no crowding in malls.
He said mall goers observed physical distancing while falling lining up inside malls.
The DTI czar observed that there was a significant reduction in the number of people going to the malls, “with the crowds estimated to be less than 30 percent than the pre-COVID 19 days.” He was also elated to know that malls ensured that mall goers wore masks.
In Dagupan City where Health Secretary Francisco Duque comes from, the City Engineer’s Office painted boxes at a side street where vendors are allowed to display their goods at a safe distance from each other.
And for consumers, the CEO has painted circles to show where they should stand while waiting for their turn to buy goods.
In Cabanatuan City, the big malls reopened on a 10 a.m.-5 p.m. schedule.
To ensure the virus does not gallivant, the entrances of these malls were equipped with temperature checks. Alcohol dispensers are provided at entrances and restrooms. And the restrooms are sanitized every 30 minutes.
In compliance with “safe malling,” the malls required the wearing of masks and the observance of social distancing. As in Davao City, free WiFi access has been disabled.
In Baguio City, the Baguio City Police Office has hit upon the idea of painting “distancing discs” on the sidewalks of public markets.
The discs are where people are directed to stand while waiting for their turn to do their buying.
BCPO police director Colonel Allen Rae Co said the multi-colored discs were welcomed readily by residents.
"Ang nakita natin dito is people had fun observing and following 'yung ating social distancing and some people are even taking selfies with 'yung disc natin," he said. This is in line with Baguio being the creative city and a tourist city.
Overall, according to Nikkei Asian Review, the Philippines (along with other Asian countries) has made “an early start to social distancing” as a means to controlling the spread of the virus.
The worst is yet to come, that much the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned. But at the rate Filipinos are complying with the safety protocols, maybe we are far better off than what the stories of doom churned out by the propaganda mills of Metro Manila would like us to believe.
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