Supermarkets, pharmacies urged to stay open up to 12 hours

Supermarkets, pharmacies urged to stay open up to 12 hours

MANILA – The government is strongly encouraging supermarkets and other establishments selling basic necessities to extend their store operations to a maximum of 12 hours to prevent crowding amid the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.  

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said this was agreed upon by members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) during their meeting on Wednesday following public clamor to extend store hours.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez earlier recommended the extension of store hours to prevent the crowding of shoppers.

“Supermarkets, public and private wet markets, grocery stores, agri-fishery supply stores, pharmacies, drug stores, and other retail establishments engaged in the business of selling basic necessities are strongly encouraged to extend their store operations to a maximum of 12 hours,” Nograles said in a virtual presser.

Nograles, who is also IATF-EID spokesperson, said that local government units (LGUs) still have to observe social distancing to minimize the risk of catching of spreading the virus.

“In the operation of wet markets, LGUs are encouraged to adopt reasonable schemes to ensure compliance with strict social distancing measures,” he said.

He said LGUs may also create specific daily schedules per sector, barangay, or purok.

Only establishments selling basic necessities are allowed to operate during the enhanced community quarantine which will be in place in Luzon until April 12.

Some supermarkets have adjusted their store hours during the enhanced community quarantine period in Luzon.

Other establishments also offer online grocery services and deliver these at one’s doorstep.

Some local governments have also launched their own mobile markets while mass public transportation ban is in place.

All shoppers are allowed to go outside and buy food with or without quarantine passes provided they observe strict social distancing.

Meanwhile, the IATF has also provided a minimum 30-day grace period on residential rents and commercial rents of small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) during the quarantine period.

He said MSMEs can pay their rents without incurring interests, penalties, fees, and other charges.

The Department of Trade (DTI) and Industry has been authorized to issue the necessary guidelines to implement this directive.

Currently, the IATF is still studying whether or not there is a need to lift or extend the quarantine. 

As of Wednesday, there are a total of 2,311 confirmed Covid-19 cases, 96 fatalities, and 50 recoveries in the country. Azer Parrocha /PNA – northboundasia.com