A mall here and one of its locator shops could be facing penalties and sanctions for allowing hundreds of shoppers to crowd the establishment allegedly without regard to health protocols due to sale of shoes and other items on Saturday.
Lawyer Jose Edgardo Uy, who heads the city’s Regulatory Compliance Board (RCB), said the inter-agency task force’s law enforcement cluster is now investigating the incident.
The report of overcrowding came at a time when the cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the city have gone up due to the arrival of returning residents.
The law enforcement cluster is composed of RCB, the police, village officials, and other concerned agencies.
Uy said RCB can issue penalties and sanctions against those responsible once the law enforcement cluster completes its findings.
In the meantime, Uy said the RCB has ordered the suspension of the promotional sale until the store that initiated it could assure the city government and the mall management that it could comply with the basic health protocols.
He identified the store that conducted the sale as Planet Sports. However, it was The Sports Warehouse that issued a deferment of the activity on its Facebook page.
The sale was supposed to run from Aug. 15 to 21, with discount on branded shoes and apparels as low as 80 percent.
Photos posted on Facebook and Twitter showed a large crowd gathering at the mall premises. Just before lunchtime Saturday, Uy said the mall management has closed its entrances to prevent more people from coming in. He added, however, that the mall was not closed to shoppers.
“Only the atrium was closed to the public. People who are inside the mall can still go to other stores,” Uy said, adding that they also received reports that mall goers ignored the reminders of security personnel and law enforcers.
Dr. Charles Marquez, who happened to be at the scene to administer flu and pneumonia vaccination at a pharmacy located inside the mall, said there were at least 500 people who trooped to the establishment.
He said physical distancing was not observed as people were standing close to each other as they lined up to get to the atrium where the items were displayed.
The atrium also serves as the Limketkai Center’s convention venue, where social gatherings are held. It can accommodate a huge number of people.
“Even before the mall opened, people were queueing at the entrances without observing social distancing. As the entrances opened, people rushed to the atrium,” Marquez said.
Since the mall is a centrally air-conditioned enclosed space, risk of Covid-19 infection is considered high.
City councilor George Goking, chair of the council’s trade and commerce committee, has appealed to commercial establishments and business operators to strictly implement the basic health protocols issued by the inter-agency task force.
“We are not against the holding of sale and similar promotions, but they must keep in mind our health protocols such as the wearing of face mask, face shield, disinfection, and observance of social distancing,” Goking said.
In a statement posted on its Facebook page, Limketkai Center said that “due to the unexpected number of shoppers at The Warehouse Clearance Sale, some safety health protocols were not observed.”
“Please be advised that our management have temporarily stopped the said activity at the Atrium which was thereafter seconded and approved by the City government. Rest assured that Limketkai Mall is one with the government in their campaign in fighting the spread of Covid-19,” the mall management said. (PNA)