Mall owners agree to retain ban on cosmetics sampling, dine-in services even under GCQ

Marje Pelayo   •   May 25, 2020   •   1214

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19 wants to ensure the strict implementation of the new normal setup in crowd-inviting places such as malls and shopping centers especially in Metro Manila. 

The Task Force maintained that mall operations will remain limited even after quarantine measures are lifted.

Specifically, close contact services such as make-up or cosmetics sampling as well as dine-in services in food chains and restaurants will remain prohibited.

Also, mall owners have agreed to install equipment in fitting areas for garments and shoes to ensure that the items being fit will not be contaminated for the protection not only of the customers but the staff as well.

“In make-up [cosmetics], because that requires close contact, that’s a no-no. For apparel, because there are a lot of fitting of clothes, there’s a specific equipment and protocols,” explained Gino Borromeo, the vice president of Strategy Development and Premier Malls Marketing at SM Supermalls. 

“We need to make sure the clothes are clean for fitting and we are working on individual tenants for borrowing best practices from around the world. So expect to see that and the implementation very soon,” he added.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Health (DOH) said that until a vaccine is discovered against coronavirus disease (COVID-19), strict protocols will be implemented in malls. 

Sayang po ang efforts ng Department of Health. Sayang po ang pag- stay natin sa bahay ng two months na hindi tayo pwedeng lumabas kung babalewalain lang din natin (The efforts of the DOH and our sacrifices to stay indoors for two months will be useless if these [protocols] will be ignored),” noted DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo. 

Kapag masyado tayong nag- enjoy na pwede under GCQ, na pwede na po anything, hindi po. The virus is still here, hindi siya umaalis, hindi siya namimili kung nasa ECQ, MECQ or nasa GCQ. It’s there hanggang hindi po sinasabi ng DOH safe na (If we enjoy too much the relaxed restrictions under GCQ — thinking that anything is allowed now under GCQ— that is not the case. The virus is still here, it has not gone away and it doesn’t discriminate between ECQ, MECQ or GCQ. It’s there until DOH says it safe already),” she added. 

Mall officials agreed to adopt and maintain the one-meter physical distancing measure, the ‘no mask-no entry’ policy and the regular body temperature checking at the mall entrance. 

Likewise, malls will impose a ‘one-way traffic’ wherein directional arrows will be installed to guide shoppers of the proper entry and exit within the mall.

There will be constant advisory of the proper health and safety protocols that mall goers should practice as part of the new normal in the establishment. 

“This is gonna be a long situation, the cure is not there yet. The vaccine is probably not there yet. So we have to do this for a longer period of time so we have to continue our lives while following new normal practices especially distancing and disinfection,” noted Lafayette Lim, the CEO and president of the NCCC group of companies.

Mall officials also remind shoppers to always bring their quarantine pass.

Senior citizens, likewise, need to be accompanied by only one relative when inside the mall. 

Age restriction will be strictly imposed, therefore all 21-year-olds and below will not be allowed.

Wi-Fi connection will be cut and cooling units will be lowered down to moderate to discourage bystanders. 

As an added measure, mall owners are planning to install UV light equipment to aid in the disinfection of facilities and items inside the mall. 

The DOH advised the public to get used to the new normal within the mall premises until a vaccine for COVID-19 is discovered. 

“Ginagawa na po ng gobyerno, ng mall owners ang kinakailangan (The government and mall owners are doing what is necessary),” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Ang kailangan naman po ngayon ay ang ating mga kababayan na sumunod sa mga pamantayan at maging reponsable din (What the public needs to do now is to obey with the regulations and be responsible),” she concluded. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Duterte reverts NCR, nearby areas to MECQ beginning Tuesday, August 4

Maris Federez   •   August 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has placed Metro Manila and other high-risk areas back to a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) status for 15 days, that will take effect on Tuesday, August 4, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continuing threat.

On Sunday night’s televised briefing, Duterte said the National Capital Region, Bulacan, and the provinces of Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal in Region 4-A will be under the MECQ until August 18.

As proposed by the taskforce, healthcare workers would also be provided additional benefits, as follows:

  • risk allowance for private sector healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients
  • the amount of 10 to 15,000 pesos for every healthcare worker that gets sick
  • life insurance
  • free accommodation
  • free transportation, and
  • free and frequent testing

Malacañang said that the president, likewise, approved the hiring of additional healthcare workers to augment the current workforce, including the hiring of 10,000 medical professionals and call them to active duty and enlistment to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The chief executive also approved the Cabinet’s recommendation to issue work and quarantine passes to minimize movement.

Duterte also directed the local government units (LGUs) and the COVID-19 CODE Teams to intensify the localized lockdown strategy and the implementation of Oplan Kalinga.

Malacañang said the guidelines for minimum health standards will also be strictly enforced and intensified while giving twenty million face masks for the poor.

The president has also approved the use of RT-PCT testing as the gold standard.

On August 1, several groups of doctors and medical practitioners have asked for a time-out and for Metro Manila to return to an ECQ status for two weeks to give them time to rest and “recalibrate strategies” against the disease.

On June 1, Malacañang ordered placing Metro Manila and other areas from MECQ to a less strict general community quarantine (GCQ) although the cases of the fatal disease in the region and other key areas have been continually rising.

Under the general community quarantine, businesses in Metro Manila were allowed to open and more modes of public transportation were able to operate in limited capacity.

On Sunday (August 2), 5,032 new infections were added to the number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines pushing the total number to 103,185. — /mbmf

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Duterte extends GCQ anew in Metro Manila until August 15

Marje Pelayo   •   July 31, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Friday (July 31) that he is again extending the implementation of  general community quarantine(GCQ) in Metro Manila starting August 1 to 15.

Aside from the National Capital Region, the following areas are also placed under GCQ until August 15:

  • Bulacan
  • Batangas
  • Cavite
  • Laguna
  • Rizal
  • Cebu Province
  • Lapu-Lapu City
  • Mandaue City
  • Talisay City
  • Minglanilla
  • Consolacion
  • Zamboanga City

Meanwhile, the rest of the country are placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

Cebu City shifts to modified ECQ; Metro Manila remains under GCQ

Marje Pelayo   •   July 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Cebu City eases to modified enhanced community quarantine or MECQ starting Thursday (July 16) while the entire Metro Manila remains under general community quarantine (GCQ). 

This was announced by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday night (July 15) after President Rodrigo Duterte’s meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).

Cebu City was placed under the strictest quarantine restrictions following the spike in cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in the area. 

The Task Force in June focused its response on Cebu City after COVID-19 situations worsened partly due to conflicts among local government officials prompting the President to send Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to handle the problems and enforce strict measures in the area.

Under MECQ, essential workers and authorized persons outside of residence are allowed to go out.

Selected industries will also be allowed to operate under 50% operational capacity. 

Public transport will also be allowed on a limited basis only for essential goods and services.

Meanwhile, the general community quarantine (GCQ) over Metro Manila will be extended until July 31 as approved by President Duterte despite previously considering recommendations from experts of the University of the Philippines to revert the capital to MECQ to further contain the outbreak.

Experts forecast that the virus infection might surge to 80,000 by the end of the month, thus the national government is warning all Metro Manila residents to follow health protocols and practice health precautions, otherwise it will be compelled to impose again the strictest quarantine measures. 

“Pumayag po ang ating Presidente na huwag munang ibalik ang Metro Manila sa MECQ sa susunod na dalawang linggo (The President agreed not to revert Metro Manila to MECQ in the next two weeks),” Roque said. 

“Pero malinaw po sa diskusyon, kapag hindi pa rin po napabagal ang COVID sa Metro Manila, posibleng pong bumalik sa MECQ pagkatapos po nitong dalawang linggo, (But it was clear in the discussion that if COVID cases in Metro Manila do not subside, there is a possibility of reverting to MECQ after two weeks),” he added. 

To further control the problem, Roque said the Metro Manila mayors vowed to intensify their respective localized lockdowns as well as testing, tracing and treatment in addition to the strict implementation of the GCQ. 

Aside from Metro Manila, other areas placed under GCQ starting July 16 are: Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Ormoc City, Southern Leyte, Zamboanga City, Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, Basilan, and Talisay, Minglanilla, and Concepcion in Cebu Province.

Meanwhile, the following areas will be under MGCQ (medium-risk) starting July 16:

  • CAR- Benguet, Baguio City
  • Region 1 – Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, La Union, Dagupan City
  • Region 2 – Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya
  • Region 3 – Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Bulacan, Tarlac, Zambales, Angeles City
  • Region 4A – Batangas, Quezon, Lucena City
  • Region 4B – Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Puerto Princesa City
  • Region 5 – Albay, Masbate, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Naga City
  • Region 6 – Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Capiz, Antique, Aklan, Guimaras, Iloilo City, Bacolod City
  • Region 7 – Negros Oriental, Bohol, Cebu Province
  • Region 8 – Western Samar, Leyte, Biliran, Tacloban City
  • Region 9 – Zamboanga Del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga Del Norte
  • Region 10 – Misamis Occidental, Bukidnon, Lanao Del Norte, Cagayan de Oro City, Iligan City
  • Region 11 – Davao Oriental, Davao Del Norte, Davao Del Sur, Davao De Oro, Davao City
  • Region 12 – Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato, South Cotabato, General Santos City
  • Region 13 – Agusan Del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Surigao Del Norte, Surigao Del Sur
  • BARMM – Lanao Del Sur, Maguindanao

The rest of the country is placed under a category called low-risk MGCQ. MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

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