San Juan's ‘tiangge’ in Greenhills reopens under ‘new normal’ | Inquirer News

San Juan’s ‘tiangge’ in Greenhills reopens under ‘new normal’

/ 05:06 AM June 05, 2020

PLASTIC PROTECTION At the just opened “tiangge” inspected on Thursday by Mayor Francis Zamora, each stall is enclosed by a plastic barrier, and only one salesperson and a customer are allowed inside each stall at a time. —PHOTO courtesy of SAN JUAN CITY GOV’T

The patchwork of stalls at Greenhills Shopping Center has long been known for its explosion of color and chaos. But when San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora inspected the recently reopened “tiangge” on Thursday, it was an uncharacteristic picture of order and discipline.

Stringent measures in place at the tiangge, which has been limited to just over half its original occupancy, are a sign of how drastically the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has shifted everyday activities like shopping even as quarantine restrictions are lifted.

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The stalls that once seemed to blend into one another are now separated into clusters of four, with a three-meter gap in place between each cluster. A two-meter gap was also allotted for hallways, which have been reconfigured to permit only one-way foot traffic.

Physical distancing measures have made it possible for only 56 percent of previous stalls to occupy the sprawling shopping grounds.

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The local government said safety officers would conduct frequent compliance checks to enforce not just physical distancing but other new requirements. This included rules for traders to wear face masks, face shields and gloves and for each stall to provide alcohol dispensers and cash trays.

Health clearance pass

Employees are also required to display their health clearance passes.

“Before they are allowed to report back to work, employees working in San Juan are required to secure the health clearance from our city health office,” Zamora said. “We want to make sure that the employees, especially those in the front lines like the sales personnel, are not infected.”

Like other reopening businesses in the city, thermal scanners will be required at entrances with a strict “no face mask, no entry” policy in place.

Economic icon

San Juan is a city steeped in colonial history, yet the tiangge is its most well-known cultural and economic icon. It has succeeded in attracting a diverse and even international clientele, including American lifestyle guru Martha Stewart who shopped in its pearl section in August last year.

The retail center is also a primary employer to many city residents, ramping up pressure to reopen even as nationwide COVID-19 cases continue to climb. A prayer hall in the Greenhills shopping complex was thought to be one of the first virus hotspots in the country in March.

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TAGS: Greenhills, health crisis, Mayor Zamora, new normal, pandemic, San Juan, Tiangge
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