Phase 2 reopening: Malls and stores gear up to ensure safety measures and crowd control

Staff working at the Aldo store in Ion Orchard on June 18, 2020.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

While many shoppers may be cautious about heading out on Friday (June 19) - the first day of phase two of the reopening of the economy - shopping malls and their operators are going all out to ensure that everything is safe and ready should the crowds return.

At CapitaLand malls, such as Ion Orchard and Bukit Panjang Plaza, directional signs for shoppers coming from the train stations are up, while floor markings and poles for queues are being set up at entrances to manage human traffic and space out the queues.

At Nex, more employees will be deployed at entrances to manage the anticipated increase in shoppers and ensure that those in line to enter the mall stay at least 1m apart.

It will open just five of its 28 entrances but is prepared to open more if needed, said its spokesman.

Shopping mall Paragon will have regular public announcements reminding shoppers to maintain a safe distance.

These measures are on top of other safe distancing steps retail establishments have to implement, including limiting customer numbers, using the SafeEntry check-in system and making sure common areas are cleaned regularly.

A spokesman for mall operator Frasers Property Retail said it is looking into opening additional entry and exit points for "a smoother and more efficient flow of traffic if and where necessary".

This will prevent snaking queues from forming at any one entrance, added the company, which runs malls such as Causeway Point and Northpoint City.

More manpower will also be deployed to manage the anticipated crowd and queues, it added.

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Posted by The Straits Times on Thursday, June 18, 2020

At each entrance, its malls will have digital point-of-entry terminals to keep track of how many shoppers are in the building at any one time.

Government safe distancing guidelines require malls and large standalone stores with a gross floor area (GFA) bigger than 930 sq m to comply with the occupancy limit of one person per 10 sq m of GFA.

Retailers too are taking steps to make customers feel safe while shopping.

PHOTO: The Straits Times

Electronics giant Gain City has installed ultraviolet light strips in the air-conditioning units of all its 14 stores to sterilise the circulating air.

At department store Robinsons, customers will be encouraged to use contactless payment methods to reduce contact between shoppers and staff.

Cash trays, which will be cleaned regularly, will be available at all cashier points for cash payments. Cosmetics and fragrance testers will be removed from beauty counters.

The store is also looking at using ultraviolet lamps that produce ozone to help reduce airborne micro-organisms.

Regular cleaning and the sanitising of high touch point areas, such as baskets and interactive hardware such as iPads, will be the norm.

Staff cleaning the interior of the Gucci boutique at Paragon on June 17, 2020. 
PHOTO: The Straits Times

At cosmetics store TheFaceShop, for example, high touch point areas will be cleaned every three to four hours and shopping baskets will be sanitised after each use.

Shoppers will also be reminded to wear face masks and adhere to safety measures.

A Frasers Property Retail spokesman said: "As we welcome the community back into our malls, we urge all mall visitors to be socially responsible, practise good hygiene and follow safe management principles while shopping or dining at our malls."

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Posted by The Straits Times on Thursday, June 18, 2020

Meanwhile, Temasek Foundation said on Thursday that vertical plastic table shields to separate diners will be installed from June 19 at selected Kopitiam and Food Junction foodcourts.

It has partnered CapitaLand and the National Transport Workers Union to install and pilot the transparent table-top separators at more than 500 dining tables in participating outlets.

The shields have been treated with a self-disinfecting anti-microbial coating that will last for three months.

Temasek Foundation will also team up with local coffee chain Ya Kun to explore how table-top separators can work in small cafes.

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This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.