Liquor ban in Davao stays; Roxas Night Market reopening postponed

A usual scene at the Roxas Night Market before the pandemic. MindaNews file photo

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 28 August) – The reopening of the popular Roxas Night Market has been moved to the third week of September while the lifting of the citywide 24/7 liquor ban has been indefinitely postponed, Mayor Sara Duterte said Friday.

Both measures were originally scheduled to take effect on Sept. 1.

Duterte said during her live interview over Davao City Disaster Radio (87.5) on Friday that her decision to lift the liquor ban will depend on the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.

The city government closed the night market and imposed the liquor ban in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

Duterte said the city wanted to resume the livelihood of 498 vendors at the night market, a popular destination for street food, ukay-ukay (used clothes) and street massage.

The night market was closed on March 12, at the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, displacing 498 food vendors and massage therapists.

The mayor, however, said the site would initially reopen at 25-percent capacity with the vendors taking turns every two weeks.

She said the city would increase the capacity if there would be strict compliance with minimum health requirements such as physical distancing, wearing of masks and handwashing.

“We will do it gradually. We will reopen this one first, and then we will see. If the cases will go up, then we will regroup, rearrange, and re-coordinate on what we will do if, God forbid, that will happen,” she said.

She said the lifting of the liquor ban would be discussed in October because it’s the “least priority,” considering that most establishments that serve alcoholic beverages, like beer houses, clubs and bars, remain under the “negative list” of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The mayor imposed a ban on liquor on April 6 to minimize the possibility of transmitting the virus during drinking sessions.

“Why do we need to open the Roxas Night Market? It’s because there are several vendors there who have been affected by the closure because of COVID-19 and we want to resume their livelihood and because under the negative list of DTI, beer houses, clubs, and bars are still not allowed,” she said.

But Duterte vowed to continue supporting the workers who have been affected by the closure of these establishments through the provision of rice and other foodstuff from the City Social Welfare and Development Office.

She reminded residents to strictly follow the health protocols like staying at home, maintaining distancing, and frequent handwashing to avoid contracting the virus, so that the city would remain open.

“Let’s help each other out by doing the health protocols as well in our offices and establishments,” she said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)