Markets, pharmacies now allowed to operate for 12 hours

Photo from: AFP/Maria Tan

By: Manila Bulletin

Supermarkets, pharmacies, and other retail establishments selling basic necessities can now operate up to a maximum of 12 hours, government authorities announced.

In a virtual presser, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said establishments catering to the basic needs of the public are encouraged to extend their operating hours for up to 12 hours even if Luzon is still under enhanced community quarantine.

These retail establishments include supermarkets, public and private wet markets, grocery stores, agri-fishery supply stores, pharmacies, and drug stores, among others.

Secretary Ramon M. Lopez of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said this was approved during the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease meeting on Wednesday as longer operating hours would spread the flow of consumers.

Since these establishments are also operating on skeletal workforce, Lopez said that operators may implement shifts, overtime and rotation schedules.

At present, most supermarkets operate from 7 a.m. to 5 pm only while others have late opening hours. The shorter operating hours with fewer shoppers allowed inside to maintain social distancing has caused long lines of buyers.

Meanwhile, on the operation of wet markets, LGUs are encouraged to adopt reasonable schemes to ensure compliance with strict social distancing measures, such as providing for specific daily schedules per sector, barangay, or purok.

Nograles said Wednesday that the IATF will consider the extension of store hours to avoid the congestion of people in these establishments.

Supermarkets, grocery stores, and pharmacies were among the establishments allowed to continue operating during the quarantine period. Their employees were likewise exempted from quarantine restrictions.


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