By Marie Tonette Marticio
TACLOBAN CITY – Their faces may have been partially hidden by the masks they wore, but happiness could still easily be gleaned from the eyes of workers at a mall here, which re-opened Friday for the first time since the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) broke out two months ago.
“We’re also worried about our safety, but I am glad that we are now back to work. I just hope that we would all be safe from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19),” said Rachel, a saleslady at the department store, who shared that all of them were briefed by management of the Robinsons North-Tacloban City about the safety measures that should always be observed like the wearing of masks at all times, social distancing, and hygiene.
The community quarantine was eased here starting Friday, May 1, as the city government relaxed the measures from restrictive to general.
And under the restrictive quarantine measures, all non-essential work were stopped, to include Rachel’s job as sales lady.
Rachel belongs to the no-work, no-pay workers, said she and her co-workers were able to receive a P2,000-gift card from Robinsons management during the quarantine.
And now that they’ve returned to work, Rachel said that, instead of their previous six-day workweek, she was told by management to only report for four days, while her partner would report for work for three days as part of the skeletal workforce scheme ordered by the city government.
Despite the slash in work schedule, which would also mean lesser pay, Rachel was nevertheless thankful that things were finally returning to normal.
And part of the “new normal” at the mall were the conspicuous white and yellow markings on the floor, which tend to emphasize that mallgoers need to keep a meter’s distance from others while in queue; body temperature is checked by security guards, and there are now foot baths and sanitizers at the entrances.
A team of cleaners is also tasked to go around the mall, sanitizing hand rails, door knobs or any other fixtures where the virus could be.
But while the workers are relieved that the mall has finally re-opened, mallgoers looked more apprehensive to let their guard down at such a public place.
“I didn’t want to go out, but I badly need a new bag to put all my stuff in. This old bag is too small,” said Grace who was also set to return to work at an appliance shop here on Saturday, May 2.
She added that she would immediately go home after buying the bag for fear that she might be infected with COVID-19.
“I advise people not to come if they having nothing important to buy. It would also be better to apprehend those who are just here to roam around without buying anything,” she said.
Among those who came early for the re-opening was Tanuan, Leyte Fire Chief Lt. Dennis Martinez, who came with his two children.
He said that aside from buying a few essentials, he and his kids were going to have a long-delayed haircut.
And unlike Grace, Martinez is the least afraid of contracting the virus.
“Why should I (be afraid)? I am a frontliner,” he answered.
It was observed that some establishments in the mall remained closed.