QC govt halts retail selling in Balintawak markets to maintain social distancing

Maris Federez   •   April 12, 2020   •   431

MANILA, Philippines— The Quezon City government has ordered the suspension of retail selling in the seven markets in Balintawak.

This is to maintain social distancing in the area to stop the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

A press release posted on Facebook on Saturday (April 11) said the consensus was reached following the meeting by Quezon City officials and the owners of Cloverleaf, North Diversion, Riverview I, Riverview II, Pilson’s, MC, and Edsan Bagsakan markets under the directive of Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte.

Napagkasunduan sa pulong na itigil muna ang retail operations o bentahan nang tingi sa mga palengke sa Balintawak [It was agreed upon during our meeting that we will temporarily stop retail operations or selling of products in small quantities in the markets in Balintawak],” said Belmonte.

The move was prompted by reports that Balintawak had been crowded on Saturday despite the Luzon-wide quarantine order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease.

The statement added that that only wholesale selling and drop-off of products will be as the Balintawak markets are crucial in ensuring the supply of vegetables and other farm products in various parts of Metro Manila.

“Starting tomorrow, we expect the crowd to thin out in the area,” said Belmonte.

The local chief executive pointed out that that more than half of marketgoers in Balintawak are from neighboring cities.

Meanwhile, Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Spokesperson, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles confirmed the local government’s move and announced the same during Sunday’s morning presser.

Market owners agreed with the City’s move, saying the cooperation of everyone is needed to stop the spread of COVID-19.

According to Assistant City Administrator for Operations Alberto Kimpo, the market owners themselves will ensure that only their wholesale operations remain. The affected retail vendors, meanwhile, will then be accommodated by the QC Fresh Market on Wheels program.

“They will be picked up by jeepneys that the City will hire and will be brought to various Barangays where they can sell their goods,” said Kimpo.

Kimpo added that retail shoppers will be barred from entering portions of Samson Road and EDSA in front of the Balintawak markets.

The local government warned that any violation will result in the immediate closure of the violator-market. – mbmf

Alarm raised in UK beach resort as huge crowds ignore COVID advice

UNTV News   •   June 26, 2020

Authorities in Bournemouth, a popular coastal town in southern England, declared a “major incident” on Thursday (June 25) over what they called the irresponsible behavior of crowds who had ignored public health guidance on coronavirus and badly overstretched local services.

The declaration came after visitors arrived in huge numbers in a spell of hot weather, resulting in gridlock on the roads, illegal overnight camping, excessive waste, anti-social behaviour and alcohol-fuelled fights.

Social distancing measures have been in place in Britain since March to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, although the rules are due to be significantly relaxed from July 4.

With pubs still closed, many people have been heading to parks and beaches to meet friends and drink alcohol, in some cases ignoring advice to keep two metres apart.

In Bournemouth, roads were obstructed by illegal parking, crews were abused as they attempted to empty overflowing bins and 33 tonnes of waste had to be removed from the stretch of coastline in and around the town on Thursday morning.

The emergency response will involve extra police patrols, security to protect rubbish collectors, additional parking enforcement, evictions of unauthorized campers and signage on approach roads warning people not to come. (Reuters)

(Production: Iona Serrapica, Yann Tessier)

Wearing facemasks, social distancing can help curb COVID-19 spread in PUVs – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   June 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday reiterated that wearing facemasks and observing social distancing can help prevent the spread of novel coronavirus disease, especially when riding public utility vehicles.

This was the response of the DOH to the statement of research group IBON Foundation that riding open-air vehicles such as jeepneys would not pose any risk of getting COVID-19.

“The mode of transmission is droplet infection. With our without aircon, basta naka-mask kayo lahat, you are distant to the person next to you at hindi kayo cramped, the possibility of getting infected is very low,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a televised briefing.

The IBON Foundation earlier said that traditional open-air public utility jeepneys are safer for passengers compared with air-conditioned modern jeepneys amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group cited numerous findings of researchers and guidelines from authorities around the world, including:

  • Findings of University of Amsterdam physicists and medical researchers which states that small cough droplets, potentially containing virus particles, can float in the air in a room for many minutes, especially when the room is poorly ventilated;
  • The European Center for Disease Control advise to ensure ventilation in the vehicle/wagon/boat at all times, and avoid recirculating air and encourage the use of windows, skylight panels, and fans to increase replacement with fresh air;
  • Thailand’s transport ministry’s instruction to public transport operators to open windows for good air ventilation
  • China’s advice to public transport groups to have retrofitted window vents to air-conditioned fleets
  • India’s directive enjoining buses to improve ventilation by increasing the frequency of fresh air intake.

IBON Foundation’s executive director Sonny Africa believes these studies will help the cause of jeepney drivers and operators who have been calling for the lifting of ban to operate amid the enforcement of community quarantine.

“Hindi kailanman matatapatan ng mga enclosed modern jeepneys yung sariwang hangin sa modern jeepney. So para dun lamang tingin namin malaking advantange ng mga tradional jeepney sa mga modernized airconditioned jeepney,” he said.

The DOH, however, said there is still a need to reconfigure traditional open-air jeepneys to meet minimum health standards.

“Napakalaki ng risk sa jeepneys dahil ang kanilang sakay ay face to face hindi katulad doon sa bus parang mga upuan na hindi magkakaharap,” Vergeire said.

Old model of public jeepneys are not yet allowed to resume operations under the general community quarantine, based on the guidelines released by the Inter-Agency Task Force.

Modern jeepneys and buses have been allowed to ply the roads again at a limited capacity to accommodate the volume of commuters who have been permitted to return to work amid the crisis.

Malacañang earlier said that the ban on traditional jeepneys may be lifted if the present number of modern jeepneys and buses are insufficient to ferry passengers.

The Department of Transportation also said it is still crafting the guidelines for the resumption of traditional jeepney operations. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

New Zealanders enjoy life back to normal after social distancing restrictions lifted

UNTV News   •   June 9, 2020

Life for New Zealanders returned to normal on Tuesday (June 9) as the government lifted all social distancing restrictions except for border controls, after declaring it was free of the coronavirus.

Cafes in New Zealand’s capital of Wellington were seen packed with customers, and public transportation also resumed at full capacity.

New Zealand is one of the first countries in the world to return to pre-pandemic normality, with public and private events, the retail and hospitality industries and all public transport allowed to resume without the distancing rules still in place across much of the world.

The reopening comes after months of restrictions, including about seven weeks of a strict lockdown in which most businesses were shut and everyone except essential workers had to stay home. (Reuters)

(Production: Cordelia hsu)

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