Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla today ordered the temporary shutdown of all malls in his province after its owners allegedly failed to impose social distancing rules.
This comes just two days after lockdown in the province was eased from the stricter enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to the general community quarantine (GCQ), which allowed the reopening of malls on Saturday.
“All malls in Cavite will be temporarily shut for failing to practice social distancing. Both inside and outside the mall, it is clear that social distancing was not imposed [by the owners],” the governor announced in Filipino and English.
He added that all stores inside the malls will be closed.
“Even supermarkets and drugstores [inside the malls] will be closed until we figure out how to implement social distancing…[T]his is temporary until we have a concrete plan on imposing social distancing guidelines,” Remulla added.
The governor also said that the province recorded 40 new coronavirus cases after the quarantine was downgraded to GCQ. As of May 13, Cavite had 239 cases and 275 cases on May 17.
Remulla added that residents shouldn’t think of the GCQ as an opportunity to roam freely and asked them “not to abuse the system.” He alleged, without offering proof, that some essential workers would present their work IDs on their days off, in place of a quarantine pass, and instead of going to work, would visit the mall to buy food and eat inside restaurants.
“Remember, the Q in GCQ is ‘Quarantine.’ [The] danger is not yet over,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), which has jurisdiction over Metro Manila malls, also warned today that malls would be shut down if their owners fail to implement social distancing.
“If you can’t carry the responsibility of tightening physical distancing, the wearing of masks, don’t reopen. Let’s not turn [a] mall into COVID centers,” MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia said in an interview on internet radio Teleradyo.
Over the weekend, several netizens shared photos of an SM Mall packed with shoppers, but it was unclear where it was taken and when, although many assumed that the images were captured immediately after the “modified” ECQ and GCQ was implemented across the country.
Meanwhile, Cavite-based mall SM City Bacoor posted photos on its Facebook page which showed shoppers practicing social distancing, contrary to Governor Remulla’s claims that mall-goers were ignoring quarantine laws.