Coronavirus: Malls must limit shoppers on premises, disperse groups of more than 10

Shoppers in Funan mall on March 26, 2020. Shopping malls and standalone stores must limit the number of shoppers on their premises and disperse groups of more than 10 people. ST PHOTO: JOEL CHAN

SINGAPORE - Shopping malls and standalone stores must limit the number of shoppers on their premises and disperse groups of more than 10 people, said the authorities on Thursday (March 26).

Operators of malls and standalone stores such as Ikea and Courts Megastore must reduce operating capacity to avoid having more than one person per 16 sq m of usable space - roughly the size of an HDB flat bedroom - to minimise overcrowding, especially during peak periods.

These safe distancing measures take effect from 11.59pm on Thursday until April 30, as Singapore's fight against Covid-19 enters a new phase amid a wave of imported cases to the country.

The Enterprise Singapore, Housing & Development Board, Singapore Tourism Board and Urban Redevelopment Authority issued a joint statement with a list of measures operators must adhere to.

The new rules would require mall operators to allow tenants to mark queue spots outside their units, spacing shoppers at least 1m from one another.

Tenants should also be allowed to extend temporary seating or queues beyond their premises to spread out the crowd where space permits, provided that fire escape routes and pedestrians are not obstructed.

Infant and children's play areas or playgrounds, both indoors and outdoors, must be closed.

No events, open atrium sales, busking and live music performances, which are likely to cause shoppers to congregate, are allowed.

Fitness studios may continue to remain open but must have the applicable safe-distancing measures to keep patrons apart.

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These are part of the stricter measures announced by the Government on Tuesday to reduce the risk of local transmission of the coronavirus.

Bars, cinemas and other entertainment venues, including nightclubs, theatres, karaoke outlets and arcades, have to close from 11.59pm on Thursday until April 30.

All centre-based tuition and enrichment classes are also temporarily suspended.

The authorities have also issued two other joint advisories for food and beverage, and retail establishments.

Failure to comply with the safe distancing measures is an offence under the Infectious Diseases Act. Penalties include a fine of up to $10,000 or imprisonment of up to six months or both.

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