Metro Manila malls close as DTI issues quarantine guidelines

Photo by Leah Capuyan
Photo by Leah Capuyan

MAJOR mall operators SM Prime Holdings Inc., Robinsons Land Corporation and Ayala Land Inc. are temporarily shutting down their malls in Metro Manila effective March 16 as part of the implementation of a general community quarantine to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Establishments offering basic necessities are, however, allowed to operate provided social distancing measures are observed.

Only one person should be allowed per square meter of space, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said in a memorandum circular on the implementation of the quarantine.

Under the guidelines drawn up by the DTI, establishments that may continue to operate are those that offer basic necessities such as groceries and supermarkets, banks, pharmacies, health clinics, bookstores, hardware stores and food stalls that should offer only takeout and delivery services.

Business process outsourcing (BPO) companies operating inside malls may also continue operations.

All establishments engaged in the agriculture, manufacturing and services sectors may remain open but are required to enforce social distancing measures.

Construction, manufacturing and services companies are encouraged to provide temporary housing for its workers living outside Metro Manila.

Other retail establishments may operate only their online platforms and home delivery services.

Aside from enforcing social distancing measures, all establishments that may continue operations are also required to prepare an infectious disease preparedness and response plan.

They should also implement basic infection prevention measures such as providing a place to allow workers and customers to wash their hands or disinfect with 70-percent alcohol-based solution.

Tissue, alcohol and trash receptacles should also be provided.

In separate announcements on March 15, the three mall operators said only establishments that sell essentials or offer home deliveries of essentials will remain open during the quarantine period from March 15 to April 14, 2020.

SM said establishments offering basic necessities such as supermarkets, banks, pharmacies, hardware, some restaurants that offer takeout services or home deliveries will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Robinsons and Ayala also said its supermarkets, pharmacies, banks and convenience stores will remain open.

The DTI, in its Memorandum Circular 20-04, said social distancing measures should be observed in these establishments. Ideally, there should only be one person per one square meter. A 200-square-meter space can only accommodate 200 people at a time.

Businesses offering leisure and entertainment are prohibited from operating within the one-month quarantine.

These include night clubs, bars, taverns, cocktail lounges, discotheques, beer parlors and pubs.

Places that offer live performances, events or exhibits for public viewing, art galleries, concerts and opera or dance production may not operate.

Gambling facilities such as casinos, bingo halls, and video gaming terminals as well as those providing lottery and off-track beating services are not allowed to operate.

Lessors and owners of these facilities are expected to waive the corresponding rental fees and charges. (MVI/SunStar Philippines)


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