Shops inside malls and the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector which employ hundreds of people have been added to the list of exempted businesses in the government’s supposed mandatory shutdown of non-essential establishments in Bohol amid health authorities’ call for the public to stay indoors and practice social distancing.
The closure of all businesses is to be imposed on March 30 through Executive Order No. 18 which regulates the operating hours of business establishments while Bohol is placed under a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) community quarantine. The directive was signed by Governor Arthur Yap on Wednesday and will take effect on March 30.
The newly issued EO however was already the second version of the order with the first one also signed by Yap, but with fewer exemptions.
Newer inclusions included the BPO and textile industries, particularly those that handle design, production, and distribution of yarn, cloth and clothing; laundry shops and vehicle repair shops and stores.
It also added establishments “located inside malls” as among those exempted.
In the earlier version of the directive which was purportedly released to media by a top Capitol communications official without Yap’s authorization earlier this week, the following were the only exempted establishments:
- Public Markets
- Supermarket, Groceries and Convenience Stores
- Hospitals, Medical Clinics, Medical Facilities, Diagnostic Centers and Laboratories
- Pharmacies and Drug Stores
- Water-refilling Stations
- Banks and Financial Institutions, including Pawn Shops, Money Transfer Services, Lending Agencies, Payment and Remittance Centers
- Public Utilities, including Power, Energy, Water and Telecommunications
- Gasoline Stations, including those selling LPG
- Funeral Parlors, provided that there is no public viewing and wakes are limited only to family members
- Restaurants, Fast Food Chains and other Food Establishments, provided that their operations shall be limited to take-out or delivery
- Media Establishments
- Shipping and Cargo Handling Companies and Services
- Agricultural Supply Stores
- Food Manufacturing and Food Processing Plants Facilities, including those production rice, grains, flour, wheat, meat, fish and other related products
- Hardware and Construction Supplies
According to the EO, all of the exempted establishments are only allowed to operate until 7 p.m., except for health facilities, pharmacies and public utility, media, shipping and BPO firms which may conduct business for extended hours.
Yap, in a press briefing on Thursday, appealed to the public to comply with the government’s directives enforced to fight the spread of COVID-19 and keep the province free from the dreaded disease which has wreaked havoc the world over.
The governor who has been praised for his proactive measures against the disease said that he will no longer be entertaining requests for exemptions in business closures and special entry into the province. amid a travel ban He said that a stern stance is needed for the government to protect the island and its 1.3 million inhabitants.
“Please stop looking for me Governor Yap in asking me for any concessions not to close down any establishment that need to be closed down and are not essential, please stop looking for me and asking for my permission to come home when you cannot because I have a bigger mission and that is to protect the entire Bohol,” Yap said.
In a span of less than two weeks, Yap has implemented five drastic measures to prevent the spread of the disease in Bohol.
He placed the province under a community quarantine which prohibits the entry of sea and air travelers bound for the province and ordered suspension of classes in all levels, a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., a partial liquor ban and a 24-hour curfew for those aged 65 and above and minors.
Bohol was among the first provinces to block the entry of all inbound travel on March 16, just as the number of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila started to balloon and cripple the capital region’s economic activities.
As of Thursday afternoon, COVID-19 has killed 45 people and sickened at least 700 more including senators, congressmen, a governor and celebrities in the Philippines.