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Supermarts, drugstores can operate 12 hrs a day

/ 05:38 AM April 03, 2020

The government has allowed supermarkets, drugstores, wet markets and other outlets for basic necessities to operate up to 12 hours a day to ease crowding and eliminate the lines of shoppers that stretch for blocks, the mere sight of which aggravates public anxiety over the spread of the new coronavirus in the country.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases on Thursday said local governments may allow the longer operating hours as long as social distancing was observed.

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“Supermarkets, public and private wet markets, grocery stores, agri-fishery supply stores, pharmacies, drugstores 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,” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, the spokesperson for the task force, said in a virtual press briefing.

Solving crowding

Nograles said the task force had also directed local governments to adopt reasonable ways of ensuring social distancing at wet markets.

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Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez on Wednesday said he had recommended to the task force the extension of markets’ operating hours to solve crowding.

Nograles said the task force also approved a 30-day grace period for the payment of the rent of micro-, small- and medium-scale enterprises while Luzon remained under quarantine. (See related story on Page A8.)

“Like rented homes, there is now also a 30-day grace period for the payment of the rent of commercial spaces used by small businesses,” he said.

No interest, penalties, fees and other charges will be imposed on delayed commercial rent, he said.

The coronavirus response law passed by a special session of Congress last week provides for a 30-day grace period for the payment of residential rent during the Luzon lockdown.

Imposed on March 16, the lockdown ends at midnight of April 12. —WITH A REPORT FROM KRISSY AGUILAR

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TAGS: coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19 Philippines, grocery, IATF, Nograles, Quarantine, supermarket
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