The operation of the night market along Harrison Road in Baguio has resumed on Dec. 11, with stringent and severe rules on crowd control.
Market Superintendent Fernando Ragma, Jr. said they submitted on a proposal detailing the adjustments to be enforced for the safe resumption of the activity to Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who approved the same.
The nightly economic activity was first reopened with the launching of a toned-down Christmas in Baguio last Dec. 1. It was ordered to stop the following day as physical distancing was not maintained due to the huge crowd that flocked to the area after the lighting of Christmas tree at Session Road.
To manage the crowd this time, Ragma said the night market now only has two designated entry and exit points, one at the Igorot Garden area and another near the Social Security System building which are manned by the Baguio City Police Office.
The entire vending area is divided into four sectors manned by at least 60 police officers, and 15 members of the Public Safety and Order Division. One team composed of five to 10 uniformed personnel is assigned to each sector, aside from those deployed to conduct patrols. There will be also personnel roving to maintain cleanliness in the area.
If violators of the minimum health protocols were only reminded of their violations and told to comply during the night market opening last Dec. 1, Ragma said individuals caught not observing physical distancing and wearing face mask and shield will be fined this time.
Each vendor is required to post warnings on health protocols within their area. Those who fail to assure their customers are following the rules will also be heavily fined.
Food slot owners have also been required to set up hand washing stations within their premises.
“We advised our vendors na huwag na lang silang magbenta kung hindi nila kayang disiplinahin ang sarili nila at ang kanilang mga customer dahil kapag sila ay nahuli, P3,000 ang fine sa kanila at P500 for individual for first offense,” Ragma said.
Ragma said the number of vending slots has been further reduced from 50 percent last Dec. 1 to 33 percent on Dec. 11. New slot numbers were assigned to renters through draw lots.
The night market now involves 352 slots, 304 for dry goods and 48 for food, from the 350 who actually participated out of 398 who paid rent last Dec. 1.
Vending stalls were arranged in three lanes last Dec. 1. Now, the stalls are arranged in two back to back lanes at the center, providing two spaces for customers on either side.
The activity runs from 8 to 11:30 p.m.
Ragma stressed the need to reopen the night market.
“Binubuhay natin ang night market bilang economic stimulus dahil kapag bukas ang night market, maraming sector ang makikinabang gaya ng transportation, mabubuhay ang market, makikinabang ang mga comboys na magkakaroon uli ng trabaho. Maraming binubuhay ang night market, hindi lang ang mga vendors mismo,” Ragma said. – Hanna C. Lacsamana