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Those Photos of Crowded Malls Were Fake, Says DTI

Shoppers pretty much followed the rules on social distancing, we're told. Whew.
by Ysabel Y. Yuzon
May 18, 2020
Under the MECQ, establishments are only allowed to operate at a limited capacity.
Photo/s: Jerome Ascano

DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez clarified on Monday that photos circulating online of supposed social distancing violations and large crowds gathered in malls on the first weekend of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) are fake.

“We made an inspection yesterday just for me to see also and verify the various fake news that are coming out that there’s so many people na nag-violate ng social distancing in the opening of the malls. So we checked personally some malls in the metropolis na usually on a Sunday afternoon, punung-puno ng tao,” Lopez told the House of Representatives on Monday's Defeat COVID-19 Committee (DCC) New Normal Cluster’s online hearing.

According to Lopez, while they did a quick survey, the crowd volume's only about 20 percent of what a typical Sunday afternoon would look like pre-COVID. Even the stores that were open are limited, as it was mostly supermarkets and drugstores that were fully operational. 

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“A simple formula we adopted, for any space, let’s say inside the store or inside the mall, at a maximum in any given point in time, there should only be one person per two square meters,” Lopez said.

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In accordance with the new community quarantine guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), mandatory temperature checks in all mall entrances are being implemented. Major malls have all enforced a no mask, no entry rule.

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Only pick-up counters and drive-thru stations are in place in all dining establishments. Chapels, entertainment and leisure establishments, including cinemas remain closed.

As of now, Metro Manila, along with Laguna, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Zambales, and Angeles City, has been placed under MECQ until May 31.

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