Shoppers still flock to Divisoria despite COVID threat

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 22) — Even with the threat of COVID-19, there is no stopping shoppers from trooping to Divisoria in search of the best Christmas deals.

People, although wearing masks and shields, crowd the popular shopping destination in hopes of scoring the best deals of the day.

Vendors told CNN Philippines that high foot traffic only happens during weekends. They also welcomed the presence of many people because they are now starting to recover their losses from the lockdown.

"Medyo nakakabangon-bangon na. Nakakabili na kami ng pangangailangan," said Joy Paes, a curtain seller in Divisoria.

[Translation: We are slowly recovering. We are able to buy what we need.]

"Opo ma'am, ngayon lang talaga. Sabado Linggo lang naman malakas dito pero 'pag ibang araw wala din naman po," said another vendor.

[Translation: Yes ma'am, it's only happening now. Sales are strong on Saturday and Sunday, but not so much on other days.]

For shoppers, prices in Divisoria are unmatched. They can bargain for big discounts in the place, something they cannot do in malls.

Healthwise, the best they can do is to protect themselves and pray they don't get the coronavirus.

"Kaya nga po marami pa ako bibilhin, uuwi na ako sa dami ng tao. Pagka Sabado Linggo lang day off ko. Di ko akalain na ganito karami ang tao sa Divisoria," shared a reluctant shopper.

[Translation: That's why after I guy what I need, I will go home. My days off are Saturday and Sunday. I didn't there would be this many shoppers in Divisoria.]

"Natatakot, pero kung pananaigin mo ang takot, ano mangyayari sa buhay natin? Dasal nalang siguro na walang manygyari sa atin," said another.

[Translation: I'm scared , but if I let that get the better of me, what will happen to my life? I just pray that nothing will happen.]

According to Manila Police District Director PBGen Rolando Miranda, the best they can do now is to remind people to follow safety protocols a better option than arrest.

"Kung kelangan mag aresto kami, mag aaresto kami. Kaya lang yung sa mga tao na 'to they are not criminals. They just want to siguro mamili sa Divisoria. Kaya ang ano dyan, yung mga mall owners meron tayong maximum na papayagang pumasok," says Miranda.

[Translation: If we need to make arrests, we will. But these people are not criminals, they just want to shop in Divisoria. What we can do is for mall owners to set a limit on the number of people allowed to go in.]

Authorities say at this point, people should follow safety protocols because it is also their responsibility to do so.

There will be a bigger problem with physical distancing at jail cells if authorities push through with arresting people who don't follow safety standards.