Malls that have partially reopened after quarantine rules had been eased would be closed if they do not strictly implement physical distancing and crowd control measures.

In a statement released Sunday, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año warned mall operators that they risk being closed and charged with violating the provisions of the Bayanihan to Heal As one Act, if they do not observe the Department of Health’s minimum health standards and quarantine protocols.

The DILG secretary also directed all local government units and police across the country to inspect malls and to talk to mall management about their compliance to the directive.

Año also said the PNP will continue to man checkpoints in all areas under community quarantine. Protocol violators will be fined, issued citation tickets, or detained if they refuse to go home.

Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, Joint Task Force Covid Shield chief said in a separate statement that they have gathered in social media photos and videos of mallgoers violating the physical distancing rules.  He said these were sent to commanders in the field who will present this as evidence against malls and other business establishments where physical distancing was violated.

“These commanders were instructed to warn the management of these malls and make sure that the warning be personally relayed to the mall management and other similar establishments,” Eleazar said.

Physical distancing protocols require one person to occupy two square meters of the common area of the mall.

If the mall reaches its maximum capacity under this new rule, customers wanting to get in need to line up outside and wait for their turn.  Strict physical distancing should also be observed even when lining up.

Mall security guards and employees are directed to be on regular patrol inside and outside the mall to remind people of the rules on physical distancing and wearing of face masks, the task force added. (Rommel F. Lopez)