BAGUIO CITY(March 29, 2020) – “Window hours” at the public market imposed by the Baguio City government resulted into a chaotic situation as Baguio residents crowded themselves defeating the purpose of physical distancing over the weekend.
The “window hours” did little in avoiding crowding, observed by most after the “window hours” scheme where Barangays were grouped in different districts and were scheduled particular days to the market.
The city government clustered the 128 barangays into 20 districts purportedly to make the flow of people organized and maintain order.
The problem though emerged where there are barangays with large populations and many of them were grouped into one district.
Barangay Irisan for example has more than 28,000 residents and was included in a district with barangays also having more than ten thousand.
On Saturday, March 28, 2020, members of the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) imposed strict measures and guarded the entrance and exit of the market. They began to hold the people coming from the large barangays and prevent them from entering until the hour of their scheduled time of entering the market starts. The measure however resulted to people massing up in the entrances in huge numbers.
When the entrance was opened, a huge wave of market goers swooped in defeating physical distancing. People began crowding market stalls and sections rushing to buy all the items they needed. At no time, almost all the items were wiped-out leaving only a handful for other residents schedule to enter the market in the afternoon.
“Anecdotal observation here, but the strict time allocation per neighborhood seems to have caused more congestion not less. We applaud the efforts of everyone responsible for enforcing the quarantine and keeping the community safe. In this case we feel that, although well intended, it has increased congestion and thus increased the chance of an asymptomatic carrier passing the illness on to others,” said a resident complaining of the situation over at social media.
Another resident appealed to Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong. “Apo mayor bka po pwd tanggalin nlng scheduling kc po parang mas worst pa po efek sobrang crowded sa Market at groceries… Tas kmi pong mga 1to5pm schedule wala n po mbili sa Market….tas ang dami pong nanamantala kc halos lhat ng bilihin sobrang mahal porket po no choice ang mga tao kc nagpa2nic buying.”
Though as early as last week, interior secretary Eduardo Año advised local government units to lift their respective window hours to avoid crowding in the markets.