By Chito Chavez
The Quezon City (QC) government said on Saturday that it has stopped the retail selling in the markets in the vicinity of Balintawak to ensure that social distancing is maintained in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Mayor Joy Belmonte explained that only wholesale selling and drop-off of products will be allowed in the Balintawak markets.
This consensus was reached following the meeting between Quezon City officials and seven market owners in Balintawak yesterday.
“Napagkasunduan sa pulong na itigil muna ang retail operations o bentahan nang tingi sa mga palengke sa Balintawak,” Belmonte said.
(It was agreed in the meeting to stop retail operations and selling in the Balintawak markets)
The markets in the Balintawak area are Cloverleaf, North Diversion, Riverview I, Riverview II, Pilson’s, MC, and Edsan Bagsakan.
Belmonte said wholesale operations in the area will continue as the Balintawak markets are crucial in ensuring the supply of vegetables and other farm products to various parts of Metro Manila.
With this, Belmonte said that starting Sunday (April 12) the market goers will be expected to “thin out.’’
Sh noted that more than 50 percent of the market goers are residents of other cities.
“Market owners agreed with the city’s move, saying the cooperation of everyone is needed to stop the spread of COVID-19,’’ the Quezon City government statement said.
Assistant City Administrator for Operations Alberto Kimpo said the market owners will ensure that only their wholesale operations will remain.
He noted that all retail stalls will be closed effective immediately until further notice.
However, Kimpo said the affected retail vendors will then be accommodated by the QC Fresh Market on Wheels program.
“They will be picked up by jeepneys that the city will hire and will be brought to various barangays where they can sell their goods,” said Kimpo.
The Market Development and Administration Department (MDAD), Task Force on Transport and Traffic Management (TFTTM), Task Force Disiplina, and the Department of Public Order and Safety (DPOS) will man the area together with the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) to prevent high foot traffic along Samson Road as far as practicable and ensure social distancing.
Kimpo said retail shoppers will be barred from entering portions of Samson Road and EDSA in front of the Balintawak markets.
He said that “any violation will result in the immediate closure of the violator-market.”