Grocery operating hours must be extended to avoid crowding: trade chief

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 01 2020 12:37 PM

People wear masks inside a supermarket in Quezon City on March 12, 2020 as reports of a lockdown in response to the COVID-19 outbreak circulated on social media have people rushing to buy supply. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News

MANILA- Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez urged supermarket operators Wednesday to extend operating hours to give the public more time to buy food and other goods as Luzon remained under lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shortened operating hours of some supermarkets lead to the crowding of buyers, Lopez said. The government is requiring physical distancing to stop the spread of the disease, which has killed nearly 39,000 worldwide including 88 in the Philippines.

"Pag iniklian ang store hours nagkukumpol ang mga tao kasi konti na lang ang window hours nila para mamili kaya importante na...mas mahabang oras lang sa pamimili para di maipon ang tao," he said in a virtual press briefing.

(When you shorten the store hours, people crowd because they only have limited time to buy so it's important to give them a longer time to shop to avoid crowding.)

Lopez said he recommended the longer grocery hours to the government inter-agency task force on COVID-19.

Last week, the Department of the Interior and Local Government also urged local government units to lift policies on window hours for market and grocery trips since it tends to gather more people at the same time.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles assured the public of enough supply of basic food needs in markets such as rice, fish, meat, and vegetables.

"Huwag po tayo mag-alala. Tuloy-tuloy po ang supply ng pagkain," he said.

(Let us not worry because there is a continuous supply of food.)

Luzon's borders were temporarily closed on March 17 to limit the entry and exit of possible COVID-19 carriers. The lockdown is scheduled to end on April 12.