At SM Masinag in Rizal, directional arrows, and standing and waiting stickers are marked to help customers maintain proper social distancing. Photo by Jire Carreon, ABS-CBN News
Culture Spotlight

The malls have opened! Here’s what they’ve been doing to keep everyone safe

Social distancing, designated pickup points, no WiFi—the malls are adjusting to the new normal. Here's what to expect. BY BAM V. ABELLON
ANCX | May 17 2020

As the entire Philippines lays the groundwork for the new normal, public spaces are working overtime to ensure the safety of their employees and visitors. One such public place are malls, many of which immediately became flooded with people who have been waiting for the extended community quarantine (ECQ) to lift.

It’s a good thing the big malls continue to address the public regarding their efforts to help stop the spread of the virus. Here are some of the initiatives from the most frequently visited malls in the metro. Both Robinsons Malls and SM Supermalls have each released a statement of their new policies.

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Shortened mall hours

Depending on the local government unit where it is located, most malls shall operate from 10:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M.

 

Social distancing

There will be floor markings that are one-meter apart to remind visitors to observe social distancing. Guards will also be roving around to make sure that the rules are followed.

 

Temperature screening

Anyone who wishes to enter the mall premises must undergo temperature screening. Those who will have a body temperature of 37.6 degrees Celsius and above will not be allowed to enter. They will also be requested to visit the nearest hospital, or healthcare facility.

Anyone with a temperature of 37.6 degrees celsius or higher will not be allowed to enter mall premises. Face masks, of course, are mandatory. Photograph courtesy of Robinsons Magnolia

Wearing of face masks

A no-face-mask-no-entry policy will be strictly implemented. This is in pursuant to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) directive.

 

Limiting number of people

It’s common practice now to wait in line outside establishments before entering. The same policy will be implemented in malls to avoid overcrowding. The number of entrances will also be limited.

The number of passengers inside elevators will also be limited, depending on the size of the car. Those riding escalators, on the other hand, will be required to stay at least three steps away from one another.

There should be a three-step distance between people at escalators. Photograph courtesy of Robinsons Magnolia

Directional floor markings

Forget going from one store to the other on a whim because the malls will have directional floor marks for visitors to follow. As a general rule, always keep right. This will hinder people from coming into close contact with one another.

 

Constant disinfection of areas

Before, during, and after hours, the mall staff will continue to disinfect most areas in the premises. Sanitizing mats, alcohol, and hand sanitizers will be provided at the entrances.

 

Centralized pickup points

While ECQ has been lifted in other areas, there are some people who still prefer to have their items delivered to them. Some also prefer to order in advance. To accommodate this, malls have assigned pickup points for delivery services.

 

Making it safe for PWDs and senior citizens

PWDs and senior citizens are allowed to have only one chaperone.

 

Disinfection efforts are 'round the clock—before, during, and after mall hours. Photograph courtesy of Robinsons Magnolia

 

Limiting leisure activities

While malls used to be considered a place of leisure, that wouldn’t be the case in at least the next couple of months. Malls are now required to keep their environment at least 26 degrees Celsius to keep people from hanging around. Free Wi-Fi access will also be disabled.

 

COVID-19 tests for SM employees and frontliners

SM has stated that they will conduct free COVID-19 tests, using antibody rapid resting kits, for their employees and workers from different agencies, such as guards and janitors. Tenant partners may also avail of this service for their staff members at cost.