Military, police to enforce physical distancing measures at public markets

Military, police to enforce physical distancing measures at public markets
Police man a checkpoint at Balintawak market in Quezon City on April 12, 2020 after reports of overcrowding there the day before.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Authorities will implement more measures to make sure that physical distancing guidelines are enforced in public places like markets, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Sunday.

In a briefing on Sunday morning, Nograles, who is also spokesperson for the inter-agency task force on the coronavirus outbreak, said the task force has received reports that public markets on Saturday "appeared to ignore protocols on social distancing." 

Nograles acknowledged that people need to go to the markets to buy food, "but there should be a system in place."

The government has imposed a lockdown on Luzon, a measure that local governments outside the official quarantine area have adopted, to limit non-essential movement and to keep people from converging in crowded areas. The lockdown is meant to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Among the markets that were crowded on Saturday was Balintawak Market in Quezon City, although Nograles pointed out that the local government was quick to address the situation. The market will only allow wholesale operations while retail selling will be done through a "fresh market on wheels" program.

Nograles said that among the options the Cabinet discussed and agreed on is requiring public markets to have just one entry and exit point so it will be easier to monitor how many people are being allowed inside. 

"We will form 'social distancing' teams," he also said. The teams will have military and police personnel and will be deployed to public markets to make sure people observe physical distancing. 

"It will be a joint team. AFP and PNP with the assistance of the [Local Government Units]," he said.




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