The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has encouraged local government units still under community quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic to implement safety measures to ensure stringent food safety and hygiene standards in the operation of talipapas.
In a memorandum circular issued recently, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said the measures are pursuant to a resolution of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) urging LGUs to adopt reasonable schemes to ensure compliance with strict distancing measures in the operation of wet markets.
The talipapa is a type of market with less than 150 stalls that cater to a limited number of customer and is among the list of identified crowded places frequented by the public where COVID-19 could spread through direct, indirect or close contact with infected people.
In the capital town of Virac, aside from the temporary wet market alongside the Gogon river, a thriving talipapa is located at barangay Bigaa.
Already, at least one confirmed coronavirus case was identified at the Virac market area in recent months, prompting the local government to close the market for a few days for disinfection.
In the DILG circular, barangays are given the responsibility to set operating hours based on approved regulations set by the city or municipality.
They are advised to implement, where applicable, separate entry and exit points, availability of sanitizing mats, sanitizers and wash areas at said points, checking of body temperatures of vendors and customers, and a standby area for waiting clients.
Those who exhibit above-normal body temperatures will be denied entry and the guard on duty will get their names, addresses and contact numbers for submission to the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT) for monitoring purposes.
Social distancing markers or visual cues should also be used for the public to follows, the DILG declared, with vendors told not to entertain customers without face masks.
Talipapas should be sanitized at least once a week, with information materials on proper health protocols posted at conspicuous places within the vicinity.
Barangays are also required to ensure that all meat, fish, seafood and vegetable products are protected from unnecessary handling and droplet contamination by requiring vendors to always wear face masks, wash hands before and after attending to each customer, display the prices of their products, and regularly wash, sanitize and rinse thoroughly all food contact surfaces before and after each use to avoid contamination.
They are likewise asked to ensure that the water used for drinking, food preparation or washing of plates are obtained from a safe source. Proper waste disposal through waste segregation and proper collection and disposal is to be ensured, particularly involving used or discarded face masks and the like.
Aside from assigning tanods to monitor physical distancing and face mask use of the public, the barangays are to maintain the smooth flow of vehicles.
They may impose reasonable fees and charges based on an approved ordinance if the facilities are owned or operated by the barangays.
On the other hand, cities and municipalities will monitor the barangays in the operation of the talipapas and provide skeletal support for crowd control and traffic movement as well as intensify police visibility within the vicinity.
Provincial LGUs are encouraged to ensure compliance of component LGUs.