By Aaron Recuenco
Top police officials met with mall security managers nationwide to discuss measures that would prevent malls from being the ground zero of a new wave of COVID-19 infection.
Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, commander of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield, said the meeting was conducted following the observation that over the weekend that the rules on physical distancing were violated in some malls.
Eleazar said the meeting was aimed at reminding security managers of the anti-coronavirus protocols that have to be enforced as a condition for the reopening of the malls both under the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) and the General Community Quarantine (GCQ).
“Let us not make the malls the ground zero of the new wave of coronavirus infection. Let us work together to start the normalization of your business while at the same time observing each and everyone’s obligation to protect the health of the Filipino people,” said Eleazar.
During the first day of the partial reopening of the economy on Saturday, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año was reportedly alarmed upon seeing photos and video footage showing apparent violation of physical distancing guidelines.
Año tasked the JTF COVID Shield to warn mall security managers about the violation of the protocols.
“It all boils down really on the implementation. We trust that all our mall managers already learned the lessons from the incidents in some malls in order to come up with better implementation of our protocols,” said Eleazar.
During the meeting, one of issues discussed was the rule on quarantine pass and identification cards that would authorize persons to enter the malls in MECQ areas like Metro Manila, particularly on the issue on whether or not the quarantine pass from nearby cities or areas would be honored.
Eleazar said that he is hopeful that the mall security managers and concerned local commanders would find an arrangement that would allow residents of nearby areas to go to the malls in order to obtain essential goods.
Eleazar, however, said that the main objective of the discussion on Tuesday with mall managers was to ensure that the rules on wearing of face masks and proper physical distancing are observed. The maximum number of people allowed inside the malls has been premised on a rule of thumb that requires a space of at least two square meters per person.
“What we are really concerned about is the (proper) observance of the rules against COVID-19 inside the malls. If they fail to implement these protocols, then this would be used as a ground for us to facilitate their closure,” said Eleazar.