Malls prepare to reopen in modified ECQ areas with extra precautions

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Foot baths have been installed by the entrance of Megaworld Lifestyle Malls as a safeguard against COVID-19 infections.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 15) — Several malls in Metro Manila, Laguna, and Cebu City are set to reopen on Saturday — but shoppers may be in for a different experience, as the establishments institute measures to ensure their safety.

With the three areas transitioning to a more relaxed modified enhanced community quarantine, non-leisure shops in malls are now allowed to reopen at 50-percent capacity, so that the public can avail of essential goods and services.

Restaurants will also be reopened, but only take-out or drive-through purchases are allowed.

Malls in Metro Manila have been closed for two months since the first enhanced community quarantine was imposed in the region on March 15.

Several SM Stores, Megaworld malls and other commercial centers all over the country are set to reopen with more stringent measures to ensure that shoppers, retail partners, and employees will be protected against COVID-19.

Wearing of face masks, temperature checks, and the use of disinfectants and sanitizing foot mats are now a must before entering malls. Physical distancing will also be strictly enforced, with markers stuck on floors to direct people where to stand and indicate the distance shoppers should be from each other.

SM said its malls are being cleaned and disinfected prior to the opening, and will be done throughout operating hours. It added that all employees and agency frontliners, such as janitors and security guards, will undergo antibody rapid testing.

Meanwhile, Megaworld is encouraging contactless purchases with the use of mobile or cashless transactions at select stores. Designated pick-up counters and drive-thru stations for online takeout orders and deliveries have also been established.

It said valid IDs must also be presented at the entrance and only guests ages 21 to 59 will be allowed to enter, following the guidelines set by the national government.

The wi-fi will be disabled while the aircon temperature will be raised to discourage the public from lingering inside the mall.

In Taguig City however, officials said malls will remain closed for the weekend pending guidelines for the modified enhanced community quarantine.

In a statement, local authorities said they have consulted with Ayala Malls, Megaworld Lifestyle Malls, SM Supermalls and Vista Mall over the matter.

Meanwhile, only supermarkets and essential businesses inside malls are allowed to operate.

With the expected surge of mall-goers, police are intensifying their visibility in the establishments, especially in mall entrances, to make sure the public follows rules.

“We need the cooperation of our kababayan. We call on them to still avoid unnecessary travel. If it is not that important, it is still better to stay at your homes,” Joint task force COVID Shield Commander PLt.Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said in a statement on Friday.