THE PASIG Mega Market, a centralized trading area of food and other basic provisions similar to what is typically found in every town around the country, was being readied Sunday night for more entry restrictions.

“For stricter social distancing, fever screening,” said Mayor Victor “Vico” N. Sotto in a post on his Facebook page.

He said, in Filipino, that those familiar with the market understand how difficult it is to secure the public market given its numerous entrances and size.

But before this latest measure to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the city government started to deploy last week what it called “mobile palengke” — mini trucks that were converted into markets and stationed on specific schedules in residential areas.

Mr. Sotto said this was meant “to reduce the amount of people” going to the Pasig Mega Market and other smaller centralized marts called talipapa.

Soon after, Valenzuela City rolled out its “market on wheels” using e-trikes with Mayor Rexlon T. Gatchalian acknowledging that they adopted Pasig’s move.

Mr. Gatchalian, in a tweet tagging Mr. Sotto, said they just “tweaked” the idea by using smaller vehicles to “adjust to our terrain na small roads… thanks for your concept!!!”

In Dagupan City, Mayor Brian C. Lim has asked grocery retailers to roll out mobile stores in the villages while the local government itself has also started setting up satellite markets to minimize people’s movement.

In a March 25 letter to operators of supermarkets, groceries, and convenience stores in the city, Mr. Lim said, “I am encouraging you to put up your mobile/rolling stores to serve the different barangays… This will allow our people to buy their daily needs without the need to travel to the city proper.”

The city, which still has no confirmed COVID-19 case, is composed of 31 barangays with a population of over 175,000. As of March 30, there are 14 persons under investigation for the disease and 433 under monitoring.

The mini, mobile market concept has also caught on in the Visayas and Mindanao.

The Iloilo City government is preparing its own “market on wheels” and Mayor Jerry P. Treñas said he is considering completely closing down the centralized markets given the difficulty of strictly implementing physical distancing.

“If they continue to not comply with social distancing, we will be instituting measures and one of this is to close down the market and use big jeepneys to market the agricultural products,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Western Visayas will also be launching a similar initiative to help farmers from the different parts of Panay Island sell their produce in Iloilo City, the regional center.

The DA’s “Kadiwa on Wheels” will start on March 31.

Farmers groups that operate the DA-KOICA Bayanihan Tipon Centers and the Rice Processing Centers from the different provinces will man the mobile markets, which will be stationed in areas to be identified by the Iloilo City government.

“We continue the Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita program to help our small and marginal farmers earn in the midst of this crisis. In fact, we had already allowed some farmers associations to market their produce every Friday in our office in Jaro,” Maria Teresa Solis, chief of the DA Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division, said in a statement.

Ariel Lastica, chairman of the Champion Farmers Program of Lambunao town, said the program has allowed them to sell last week some 300 kilograms of lowland vegetables.

“At the start, transportation of agricultural products from the province to the city was restricted due to the enhanced community quarantine. But with the food lane pass issued by DA, we can now deliver our products from Lambunao freely,” he said.

In Mindanao, General Santos City has also launched its “moving” market while Cagayan de Oro City is setting up “food terminals” in the barangays where farmers can directly bring their produce. — Marifi S. Jara and Emme Rose S. Santiagudo