MANILA, Philippines — Supermarkets, drug stores and other establishments that sell basic necessities are being encouraged to extend their operations to not more than 12 hours.
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease said Thursday local government units (LGUs) may allow supermarkets, public markets, pharmacies, and the like to extend their operating hours as long as physical distancing will be observed.
“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,” IATF spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said in a virtual briefing.
“LGUs are directed to allow such establishments to operate pursuant to the foregoing. Provided that in the operation of wet markets, LGUs are encouraged to adopt reasonable schemes to ensure compliance with strict social distancing measures, such as, but not limited to, providing for specific daily schedules per sector, barangay, or purok, as the case may be,” Nograles added.
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez earlier said he has recommended to the IATF the extension of markets’ operating hours to prevent the public from crowding.
Nograles said the IATF also approved a 30-day grace period for commercial rents of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) while the enhanced community quarantine is in place.
“Tulad ng residential units, may 30-day grace period na rin po sa pagbayad ng upa sa commercial spaces na ginagamit ng malilit na negosyo o MSMEs,” he said.
He noted that there should be no interest, penalties, fees, and other charges imposed on the commercial rent.
Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, a 30-day moratorium is provided for residential rents.
The Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine is expected to be lifted by midnight of April 13.
The IATF said it is still studying whether to lift or extend the quarantine measure which limits the public’s movement to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) which has so far infected 2,311 people in the country.
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