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Covid-19: Authorities spell out ways for malls to limit number of shoppers, ensure safe distancing

SINGAPORE — Come Friday (March 27), malls would have to take steps to limit the number of shoppers on their premises, in order to comply with the stricter safe distancing measures announced earlier this week by the Government. The measures take effect from 11.59 pm Thursday until April 30. In a joint statement and frequently-asked-questions (FAQ) issued on Thursday, several public agencies — the Singapore Tourism Board, Enterprise Singapore, Housing and Development Board and the Urban Redevelopment Authority — spelt out the options for malls and standalone stores to ensure they meet the new requirements. For example, malls and standalone stores — such as Ikea and Courts Megastore — could reduce the number of entrances and deploy staff to control visitors entering and leaving the premises. They could also issue tickets to visitors to ensure the numbers do not exceed the allowable capacity, which can be computed using the approved Gross Floor Area (GFA) of a shopping centre’s retail component. As part of the Government’s latest measures, malls and standalone stores have to limit the number of people entering the premises to minimise overcrowding, especially during peak periods, so that the occupant load does not exceed one person per 16 sqm of usable space. For example, a standalone mall with an approved GFA of 32,000 sqm for the retail component will have an allowable visitor capacity of 2,000 persons at any one time. Non-visitors, such as staff of the mall management, tenants and term contractors, would not be included in the visitor capacity computation. The authorities said the reduction of the number of entrances “should not lead to a congregation of visitors outside the mall”. They added that the mall must make sure that there is at least 1m spacing between persons standing in queues, including those outside the premises. On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health announced stricter safe distancing measures which apply to a range of activities and venues. Among other things, malls are not to allow groups of more than 10 persons to form and are required to “quickly disperse any such group”, the authorities said in the statement on Thursday. The developments must also suspend open atrium sales and promotional activities, as well as cease activities such as busking or live music performances, “which are likely to cause patrons to congregate”. All bars and entertainment venues, as well as tuition centres and enrichment classes must also be closed. The authorities stressed that enforcement will be stepped up, and non-compliance to the safe distancing measures is an offence under the Infectious Diseases Act. Offenders could be fined a maximum of S$10,000, or jailed for up to six months, or both. “In addition, existing levers under the Infectious Diseases Act, including the temporary suspension of operators, may be used against persons and operators who do not comply with the regulations,” the authorities added.


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