Shopping malls in the Philippines reopened on Saturday as the government eased restrictions imposed two months ago to contain the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected more than 12,000 people in the country.

Whlle the lockdown in the capital and other high-risk areas was extended until the end of the month, major malls and other commercial establishments considered essential have been allowed to resume partial operations nationwide.

The Department of Health on Saturday reported 214 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Philippines, bringing the national tally to 12,305. The death toll reached 817, with 11 additional fatalities.

Nearly 65 per cent of the cases were from Metro Manila, where long lines of people and vehicles were seen outside major malls on Saturday.

Mall management implemented safety protocols such as temperature checks and physical distancing. The number of people inside establishments was also limited. Everyone was required to wear face masks.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque reminded the public that, even if restrictions have been eased, only essential trips for essential supplies and services are allowed.

‘Whether you are under modified or general community quarantine, we are all still under community quarantine,’ he said. ‘While there is no vaccine, while there is no cure for Covid-19, the threat is still there.’ 

President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been in Manila since he ordered a lockdown in mid-March, on Saturday flew to his home in the southern city of Davao to see his family, the head of his security said. Duterte was expected to return to Manila on Monday.

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