Just last week, the Department of Tourism announced that the largest nationwide mall sale called the Philippine Shopping Festival would be postponed to a later date because of the COVID-19 outbreak.[READ: DOT postpones the Philippine Shopping Festival, keeping everyone and their wallets safe]
In the private sector, many establishments are taking a hit from the epidemic, but that is not stopping most Filipinos from going to malls, whether to buy necessities or for leisure or as in the case of worker, to continue working.
Shopping malls take precautions
Many shopping centers disclosed efforts to combat COVID-19 and stop its spread in crowded spaces, including mandatory temperature checks at the entrance. The country’s biggest operators of mall chains have put to effect safety measures, from regular disinfection of surfaces such as escalators, doors and restrooms to establishing sanitation stations in key locations.
Frontliners such as security personnel and sanitation staff who continue to do their work despite the risk are also equipped with face masks.
At SM Malls, shoppers whose temperatures exceed 37.7 degrees Celsius are declined entry. Steven Tan, the president of SM Supermalls, says, in such cases, people with fever are politely requested to go to the nearest hospital.
At Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan, where the fifth confirmed coronavirus case was said to have frequented, only a few shoppers were spotted roving. This is despite San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora’s assurance that it is safe to go there and to the city of San Juan.
The administration of Greenhills Shopping Center has also stepped up its disinfection practices in light of the outbreak.
A Metro Manila-wide lockdown
House ways and means committee chair and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda suggested an NCR-wide week-long lockdown to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
“In NCR, where all cases are, aside from no classes, there should be work stoppage for at least one week. No bus trips, no domestic flights, close [South Luzon/North Luzon expressways] and railways, and therefore, everybody in Metro Manila should have a grand staycation,” he said.
Salceda argued that the cost of mass community transmission outweighed the economic losses that might arise from such preemptive actions as a metrowide lockdown.
Duterte along with some lawmakers have expressed opposition to the proposal saying it is impossible given that NCR is the country’s economic and political center.
Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr. proposed other measures to counter the lockdown including moving class schedules and arranging work-from-home schemes for government and private offices.
As of writing, many local government units including Manila have suspended classes at all levels for the week.
President Duterte on Monday declared a public health emergency after the number of confirmed cases doubled from 10 to 20. As of writing, the total number has gone over 30.
Header photo courtesy of Megaworld Lifestyle Malls Facebook page
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Writer: CHRISTIAN SAN JOSE