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Gov’t eases limits for shopping malls ahead of year-end holidays

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THE GOVERNMENT has allowed shopping malls to turn on free WI-FI and lower air conditioning temperature ahead of the holiday season as part of easing measures against the coronavirus.

Malls may also conduct doorbuster sales, according to the Trade department. People between 15 and 65 years old may go out of their homes, but local governments can set higher age limits, it said in a memo signed on Oct. 20.

These establishments must maintain health protocols, including requiring customers to wear face masks and shields and observe social distancing. The malls must frequently disinfect their premises and provide adequate ventilation.

Malls were earlier allowed to reopen at limited capacities during the stricter lockdowns but were barred from providing free WiFi connection to dissuade people from crowding. Air conditioning was also limited at 26 degrees Celsius.

A Trade memo signed on Oct. 20 removes these restrictions and allows malls to set temperatures lower than 24 degrees. Government agencies such as the Trade, Labor and Health departments will monitor compliance.

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The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry last week sought rent relief for smaller tenants of malls and commercial buildings. It said tenants should be allowed to pay a percentage of their sales until their businesses have recovered. — Jenina P. Ibañez

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