MANILA – Failure of mall security managers to implement safe physical distancing will result in the closure of their establishments, Joint Task Force Covid Shield commander, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said Sunday.
Eleazar made the warning amid reports and social media posts about the failure of mall security managers to implement safe distancing on the first day of resumption of the mall operations particularly in Metro Manila on Saturday.
“As per instruction of the DILG (Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Eduardo Año), we will not only facilitate the closure of these malls but will also initiate the filing of appropriate charges against the management,” Eleazar said in a statement.
He said all police commanders have been directed to regularly monitor the movement of people inside the malls in their respective areas of responsibility to ensure that the basic rules on safe physical distancing and wearing of face masks are observed.
The police commanders were also instructed to familiarize other protocols issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for the resumption of mall operations and other businesses.
The JTF Covid Shield, composed of the PNP, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fire Protection, is the enforcement arm of the IATF-EID.
Eleazar said they have already forwarded to the concerned police commanders the names of the malls and other business establishments that violated the safe physical distancing on Saturday, first day of the less strict modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
“These commanders were instructed to warn the management of these malls and make sure that the warning be personally relayed to the mall management and other similar establishments,” he added.
He said police commanders should also initiate meeting with the mall management to remind them of the protocol and warn them of the consequences if they would fail to observe the quarantine protocols.
Based on the guidelines, mall security managers should have already computed how wide the mall’s common areas in order for them to have an idea on the maximum people that would be allowed inside.
The rule is that each two square meters of the common areas of the mall is limited to one person only.
Shop owners inside the mall should also control the person going inside their shops to observe safe distancing.
Security guards and mall employees should also be on a regular patrol inside the mall to observe and remind people of the rules on safe distancing and wearing of face masks.
Those who could not be accommodated after the mall reach the maximum capacity will have to queue up outside the mall and wait for their turn to replace those who would exit the mall.
Physical distancing should be observed in the waiting area outside the mall.
Meanwhile, Philippine National Police spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac is optimistic that the people will quickly adapt to the MECQ guidelines in the coming days.
“We were quite alarmed, but this is understandable. As days go by, we will continue to learn, collaborate, and adjust accordingly our enforcement of MECQ guidelines,” Banac said in a statement. “After all, this is the new normal, we all must learn to live with it.”
He said the PNP also noted traffic buildup and attempts to move in and out of National Capital Region on the first day of the MECQ.
“Many shoppers enjoyed the day at the mall and overstayed inside supermarkets and shops such that by late afternoon, the accumulated number of people inside malls seemed to look like overcrowding,” he said.
After almost two months under ECQ, Metro Manila and other areas with high number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) have been placed under MECQ from May 16 to 31.
Other areas under MECQ are the provinces of Laguna, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, and Zambales; and cities of Cebu and Mandaue in Cebu province.
All places nationwide that are not under ECQ or MECQ were placed under general community quarantine (GCQ). (IA/PNA)