It won’t sit quite well for anyone, despite the quarantine being adjusted, to go to a public place where no one can be sure if the person next to them is infected with COVID-19. After months of staying at home and now reporting for work, people may still be gripped with paranoia and keep away from public places.
Recently, data on the virus became even bleaker, with an increase in the number of infected cases. With the country pushing for recovery, adjustments have had to be implemented to assuage the fear of running errands for basic and personal needs. This encouraged some enterprises to continue with business and providing for the needs of people.
To check out the safety measures implemented, Asian Dragon visited some of the open malls during this general community quarantine (GCQ).
Shangri-La Plaza, Rustan’s
On June 5, Rustan’s decided to reopen its doors to the public with precautions provided for the safety and comfort of employees and customers. Through a statement, they assured that everyone’s safety is their utmost priority, and preventive procedures are in place in all the stores.
A few of the mall’s personnel were wearing full-body personal protective equipment (PPE). Another is the repetitive process when entering a store or another part of the mall. Body temperature s consistently scanned before entry, and security guards encourage mallgoers to disinfect their hands with the provided automatic hand sanitizers with sensor and step on disinfecting mats.
Distancing markers for counter lines and escalator steps can be seen throughout the floor of Rustan’s Supermarket to observe proper queuing and physical distancing of at least three feet. The same goes for the use of elevators, which is limited to four persons at a time while facing opposite directions, as indicated by floor marks.
One can easily notice the immense change in shopping practices. Inside the department store, trial and sampling of products are no longer allowed, which left booths in the beauty section abandoned. Assistance is not lost, however, as in the shoe section, salesladies provide socks for clients before they fit their desired footwear.
Upon entrance at SM Megamall, customers are greeted with a thermal imaging screen manned by security guards, and have access to a sanitizer dispenser. It’s a faster method of checking a newcomer’s temperature and disinfecting before getting inside the place.
What distinguishes this mall is the big display reminding shoppers of social distancing, two standees of front-liners with their arms to the side demonstrating the approximate distance one person should be from the next.
One may also ask, “Is it just me, or is it hot in here?” This is due to the air-conditioning temperature protocol mandated by the Department of Trade and Industry, keeping the temperature at 26˚C to keep mall-goers from lingering.
Throughout the mall, one may want to check their walking direction, with the one-way markers stuck to the floor. This is an organized system for mall-goers to avoid bumping into each other, although it might take some getting used to.
Ayala Malls, Vertis North
It was only in this shopping center where requirements for entrance were listed near the entrance checkpoint. One of the conditions is identification proving that you are between the ages of 21 and 59.
Many of the stores are not yet open, so the place remains dark. The majority of the entrances are also still closed, so the lights and escalators are not running.
There are few people walking around, probably because the mall benches still display signs indicating that no one is allowed to sit, and prompting shoppers to pick up their orders and leave immediately.
Robinsons Magnolia looks very different from Vertis North. With the mall cool and brightly-lit, more people are shopping around compared to the other aformentioned establishments.
To remind mallgoers of physical distancing, each store announces a maximum number of persons allowed to enter, according to the store area. Signs are up in almost every corner of the building, and security guards hold up paddle signs to make sure rules are being followed.
Another advantage that can be noticed is that many of their escalators are fitted with a UV LED light handrail sterilizer, an efficient machine that blocks any infection from spreading. This is to continuously destroy the DNA of germs on the rails while the escalator is moving.
On the lower ground floor, food stalls and chairs are lined up with their products ready for take-out. The chairs placed for customers to form a queue are constantly disinfected by assigned personnel.
The more one wanders from mall to mall, the less fear one may feel compared to when one first stepped out amid the pandemic. It may ease the mind to know that these safety measures are a game-changer in fighting to bring back normalcy to everyone’s lives.
While some establishments may have thought of extra ways to assure customers of safety, all are seemingly doing their best to carry on.
Rustan’s Chairman and CEO Zenaida Tantoco spoke for all mall owners when she repeated this assurance in a statement. “As an establishment that has been a second home for many shoppers, we will stay dedicated to implementing thorough safety protocols to ensure that our employees and shoppers are protected and can visit us with ease of mind.”