Coronavirus pandemic

Retail outlets must adhere to strict safety measures

Occupancy limits among guidelines spelt out for businesses ahead of phase two reopening

Workers sorting out goods at Metro Paragon (above) and staff preparing items for sale inside a Skechers outlet (right) at Nex mall yesterday. Stores that reopen on Friday must follow strict safety measures, including frequent cleaning and implementat
Workers sorting out goods at Metro Paragon (above) and staff preparing items for sale inside a Skechers outlet at Nex mall yesterday. Stores that reopen on Friday must follow strict safety measures, including frequent cleaning and implementation of the SafeEntry check-in system. ST PHOTOS: GAVIN FOO, KUA CHEE SIONG
Workers sorting out goods at Metro Paragon (above) and staff preparing items for sale inside a Skechers outlet (right) at Nex mall yesterday. Stores that reopen on Friday must follow strict safety measures, including frequent cleaning and implementat
Workers sorting out goods at Metro Paragon and staff preparing items for sale inside a Skechers outlet (above) at Nex mall yesterday. Stores that reopen on Friday must follow strict safety measures, including frequent cleaning and implementation of the SafeEntry check-in system. ST PHOTOS: GAVIN FOO, KUA CHEE SIONG

Retail establishments, which are being allowed to open physical stores on Friday, will have to adhere to strict safety measures including occupancy limits, frequent cleaning of common areas, and implementation of the Government's visitor check-in system SafeEntry.

Enterprise Singapore (ESG), the Housing Board, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) released a joint advisory for retail establishments and lifestyle-related services yesterday, detailing the guidelines and rules that businesses will have to follow.

Establishments required to comply with these measures include shopping malls, supermarkets and standalone stores such as Ikea and Decathlon.

For example, malls and large standalone stores that have a gross floor area (GFA) larger than 930 sq m must comply with the occupancy limit of one person per 10 sq m of GFA.

While other stores, including shops within malls and those at HDB residential blocks, do not need to keep to the same occupancy limits, they have to ensure that individual customers or groups of up to five customers remain at least 1m apart.

Other measures that have been the norm for the last few months, such as ensuring that staff and shoppers wear masks and that large crowds do not form, will also have to continue to be enforced.

Ms Rose Tong, executive director of the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA), urged retailers to remain cautious, especially since eager shoppers could cause crowds to form this weekend.

She said: "The immediate focus and new norm for retail will move from in-store engagement and customer experience to in-store cleanliness and how business activities can be made more seamless and expedient."

She added that transaction times in stores should be kept short and customers should also be encouraged to browse online rather than in a shop.

SRA is working with Ngee Ann Polytechnic to develop a handbook for retailers which will feature mandatory safe management measures alongside other suggested guidelines.

While many retailers are looking forward to welcoming shoppers once again and feeling relief that business can resume, stores are also ready to implement stringent safety precautions.

SPH Brightcove Video
The Straits Times visited VivoCity, furniture retailer Scanteak and Safra Punggol's EnergyOne gym as they prepare to reopen their doors on June 19.

Malls and mall operators such as CapitaLand and Frasers Property Retail said they will continue to implement crowd control measures, such as limiting entry points and stepping up cleaning routines.

Mr Chris Chong, managing director of retail at CapitaLand Singapore, said that aside from regularly cleaning common areas, the company has also used an anti-microbial coating at certain touch points in its malls and ultraviolet disinfection robots, which emit pulses of ultraviolet radiation to kill germs.

Some retailers are also looking to digital solutions to help control crowds. A spokesman for electronics, IT and furniture retailer Courts said customers will be encouraged to shop online at the store's website to avoid overcrowding at the stores.

Department store BHG said that from mid-July, shoppers at BHG Bugis will be able to make purchases cashlessly via retail assistants who will be equipped with mobile point-of-sale (POS) devices. This means they can avoid long queues. The mobile POS system will gradually be implemented across its other four outlets.

SRA's Ms Tong said retailers should do their part in helping to make the reopening in phase two a success. She said: "Let's not waste the containment efforts made in the last few months. Let's all work hard to ensure we avert a resurgence in transmission."

Meanwhile, Sentosa attraction KidZania Singapore is closing for good after four years, the company said on Facebook yesterday, without elaborating. It will not reopen even after social restrictions are lifted.

Join ST's Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2020, with the headline Retail outlets must adhere to strict safety measures. Subscribe