THE Joint Task Force (JTF) Covid Shield will recommend a “no quarantine pass, no entry” policy in malls and other business establishments in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) and general community quarantine (GCQ).
Lieutenant General Guillermo Eleazar, JTF Covid Shield commander and Philippine National Police (PNP) deputy chief for operations, said this should prevent people from unnecessarily going to the malls.
“Pag wala kang quarantine pass ibig sabihin hindi ikaw ang pinayagan ng LGU (local government unit) na mag-represent ng household mo para pumunta sa sa mga establisyimento na permitted to operate,” Eleazar said during his inspection of the checkpoints and malls in Metro Manila on Monday, May 18.
“Ngayon may quarantine pass ka e hindi ka naman taga-doon, ang quarantine pass mo taga Caloocan ka pero nasa Mandaluyong ka, hindi ka pa rin papapasukin,” he added.
Metro Manila, which had been under enhanced community quarantine since March 17, shifted to MECQ on May 16, allowing the non-leisure establishments inside the malls to reopen.
Metro Manila, which also comprises the National Capital Region (NCR), accounts for the bulk of cases of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the Philippines.
Eleazar said he will meet with security managers of malls and other establishments in the NCR to discuss their recommendations and observations to ensure that the minimum health protocols set by the Department of Health such as social distancing and wearing of face masks are strictly observed.
During his inspection at the UP Town Center in Katipunan and SM North Edsa, Eleazar reminded security personnel and mall management about the one person per two square meters rule.
He also instructed them to set air conditioners at not less than 26 degree Celsius and turn off the free WiFi service to discourage people from lingering.
Photos of large crowds in malls as Metro Manila shifted to MECQ on Saturday went viral on social media.
Eleazar reminded the public that the malls were reopened as part of efforts to restart the economy, not to entertain those who just want to loiter.
He reminded the public that the threat of Covid-19 is still present. Going out for unnecessary travel will only endanger lives, he said.
“Ipinapa-alala ko lang sa ating mga kababayan na pinayagan ng ating pamahalaan na magbukas ang ilang mga business establishment para po sa ating ekonomiya, hindi para tayo ay mag-lakwatsa,” said Eleazar.
“Irespeto lang po sana natin ang ating mga manggagawa na siyang prayoridad ng ating pamahalaan para tulungang pasiglahin muli ang ating ekonomiya at mabigyan ng oportunidad muli na kumite at buhayin ang kanilang pamilya,” he added.
Aside from Metro Manila, other areas that shifted to MECQ are Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga including Angeles City, Zambales and Laguna from May 16 to 31.
The cities of Cebu and Mandaue remain on ECQ while the rest of the country was placed on GCQ.
Under MECQ, non-essential but non-leisure businesses are allowed to operate with 50 percent workforce. These businesses nay be allowed to resume full operations in areas under GCQ.
In all forms of community quarantine, persons below 21 and over 59 are not allowed to go outside their homes. Under GCQ, they may go out but only for the purpose of buying essentials and they must have a quarantine pass.
Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque have warned that malls that don’t comply with the minimum health protocols will be shut down again.
On Monday, Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla ordered the temporary closure of all the malls in the province following their failure to enforce social distancing over the weekend.
“Lahat ng mall sa Cavite ay panandaliang sarado dahil sa kanilang pakawalang bisa ng social distancing. Sa labas ng mall bago magbukas, sa luob ng mall habang operations. Wala po nakitang pinasusunod na patakaran ukol sa social distancing,” he said.
Eleazar said the police will continue the conduct of random checkpoints to apprehend those who should not be outside their homes.
A motorist who was flagged down by Eleazar during an inspection at a checkpoint at the boundary of Rizal province and Marikina City said he was going to Metro Manila to buy garlic.
The motorist was denied entry and was issued violation ticket by the Highway Patrol Group.
“Kapag bibili lang naman ng bawang, sibuyas, kamatis o iba pang bagay na puwede rin namang bilihin sa inyong mga lugar ay huwag na po kayong pumasok ng Metro Manila,” said Eleazar. (SunStar Philippines)