Mall-goers told to observe social distancing, wear face masks amid posts on crowding

November 8, 2021 - 5:46 PM
People visit an amusement park as the country's capital region loosens coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions, in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines, October 16, 2021. (Reuters/Lisa Marie David)

Concerned citizens reminded others to observe the still standing social distancing rules following reports of crowding in some malls and establishments in Metro Manila.

Some photos and videos were posted online over the weekend where groups of families lined up or gathered in malls.

Others expressed their worry on Twitter as they stressed that large gatherings or crowding still pose COVID-19 threat.

“Puno na po ang mga malls at restaurants,” dermatologist Winlove Mojica said.

“[Ang daming] tao sa mall. To be specific, sobrang daming ‘toddlers’ sa mall. May COVID-19 pa rin the last time I checked,” another user wrote.

“I go to Rob Mag (Robinson’s Magnolia) every week to focus on my thesis and was shocked to see the usually dog-filled al fresco garden swamped with children last night it was insane. Some of them are putting down their masks too (while running around),” another user said.

Last November 5, the national government downgraded the restrictions in Metro Manila to Alert Level 2 of the general community quarantine following the decrease in COVID-19 cases last October.

This alert level status will be in place until November 21.

Under Alert Level 2, individuals below 18 years old, whether vaccinated or not, are now allowed in most establishments such as malls, tourist attractions, theme parks and kid amusement industries.

Most businesses are also allowed to operate at 50% for indoor capacity (including minors who are not vaccinated) and 70% for outdoor capacity.

The Presidential Communications Operations Office released a series of infographics detailing the guidelines on the implementation of Alert Level 2 in National Capital Region:

Here are the classifications the government announced for the provinces and regions outside of the NCR last October 30:

Metro Manila Development Authority, through Resolution 21-25, announced the adjustment of mall hours.

Starting November 15, there will be longer mall hours which is from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays.

More open spaces, maintain restrictions

Amid the loosened restrictions, some Filipinos perceived that the relaxed Alert Level is still “premature.” They cited the incidents of COVID-19 surge in the past months.

“Sana pag bumababa yung number of cases, maintain muna yung strict restrictions for 1 to 2 months. Hindi yung nagkaron lang ng pagbaba ng cases, the following week, mag ease na agad ng restrictions. Ganyan na ganyan nangyari sa atin in the past kaya nagka surge eh. Tsk,” one Twitter user said.

Concerned citizens also previously reminded others to not abuse the greater mobility provided by the relaxed alert level status.

READ: Filipinos told to refrain from abusing ‘opportunities’ as NCR shifts to Alert level 2 

Statistician Peter Cayton, meanwhile, criticized the allowed capacity in establishments.

“50-70% is still too high of a density for me. It should have been a function of floor area. May kumakain ba na nakamask? Wala naman, di ba? Kung ikokompromiso ang mask, dapat siguraduhin ang mas malayong distansiya (mas malayo sa 1 o 2 metro) at akmang paglabas ng hangin,” Cayton wrote.

Others called for more green and outdoor spaces that the public can visit which are less risky for COVID-19 transmissions.

“We need more green spaces!” one user said.

“Ang reaction at tanong na ‘Bakit ang daming tao sa parks?’ ay pwedeng gawing ‘Bakit kaunti lang ang mga park sa sentrong rehiyon na bawat siyudad ay nagsisiksikan ang mga mall?’” another user wrote.

In a briefing on Monday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque called on the public and mall owners to implement strict observance of the minimum health and safety standards.

Palace warned owners against superspreading.

“Nananawagan kami sa publiko, mall owners: binuksan natin mga malls sa kabataan para sa public health benefits ng kabataan at ekonomiya. Hindi dahilan ito para maging superspreader ang malling,” he said.

“Mall owners, katungkulan niyo po patuparin ang minimum health standards. Pag di kayo tumupad, tataas na naman kaso, sasarado na naman malls, marami na naman mawawalan ng hanapbuhay,” he added.