COVID-19: Malls must limit number of visitors, disperse groups of more than 10

Patrons queueing to get into an area of Causeway Point on 27 March, 2020. (PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — Shopping malls and standalone stalls must limit the number of people entering their premises and disperse groups of more than 10 people, said the authorities.

Operators of malls and standalone stalls – such as Ikea and Courts Megastore – must reduce capacity to ensure that it does not exceed one person per 16 square metres of usable space and allow tenants to extend temporary seating or queues beyond their premises to spread out crowds where space permits.

Such enhanced social distancing measures – announced on Tuesday – were laid out in greater details in joint advisories by the Enterprise Singapore, Housing & Development Board, Singapore Tourism Board, and Urban Redevelopment Authority late Thursday (26 March).

All shopping malls and standalone stores must comply with these measures, which take effect from 11.59pm on Thursday till 30 April.

These include:

  • allowing tenants to mark queue spots outside their unit, to ensure shoppers in queues stand at least one metre from one another

  • staggering the office and lunch hours for their workers to ease peak-hour congestion

  • closing common amenities such as infant and children’s play areas or playgrounds, both indoors and outdoors

  • suspending events and activities like open atrium sales, busking or live music performances, which are likely to cause patrons to congregate

  • placing hand sanitisers close to high touch surfaces like door handles, entrances and exits 

  • frequently disinfecting common areas

  • training service staff to provide clear communication on safe distancing measures

A worker keeping a count of patrons within Causeway Point on 27 March, 2020. (PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore)

Separately, retail establishments must comply with similar measures including:

  • spacing out customer queues for fitting rooms and at cashiers – shoppers should be at least one metre apart from one another; if in groups, do not exceed 10 people

  • encouraging the use of self-checkouts, cashless or contactless payment, to speed up payments and reduce cash-handling

  • implementing temperature screening and health declaration by employees each time they report for work

  • placing hand sanitisers close to high touch surfaces

  • disinfecting common spaces, high touch surfaces and interactive components such as self-checkout kiosks

  • removing product testers and samples

“Government agencies will be stepping up enforcement of these safe distancing measures,” said the advisory.

Flouting these measures is an offence under the Infectious Diseases Act – penalties include a fine of up to S$10,000 or a maximum jail term of six months or both. Offending operators may also face temporary suspension of operations.

The same penalties also apply to those who flout other social distancing regulations during the period. These include people who intentionally sit on a seat or stand in a queue less than one metre away from another person in public venues.

Those who intentionally sit on a fixed seat that is demarcated as not to be occupied in public venues, as well as those who take part in events held anywhere here with more than 10 participants, are also subjected to the same penalties.

Patients who are issued a five-day medical leave by a medical practitioner certifying that they have acute respiratory symptoms are not allowed to leave their homes starting on the day the certificate is issued.

If they do not comply and leave their homes during the five-day period, they will too face a maximum fine of $10,000 or a maximum jail term of six months, or both. They can only leave their homes to seek medical attention.

The same penalties also apply to anyone who flouts the 14-day stay-home notice by leaving the place of accommodation or residence they are serving the notice in.

On Thursday at 11.59pm, all entertainment venues were made to close till end-April as part of stricter social distancing measures.

During this period, all events, regardless of size, must be deferred or cancelled, while social gatherings are to be limited to 10 people or fewer.

Separately, all centre-based tuition and enrichment classes have been suspended to reduce the intermingling of students from different schools. All religious services and congregations have also been suspended.

Of the 683 COVID-19 cases here, 172 have fully recovered. 18 patients remain in the intensive care unit while two – a 75-year-old Singaporean woman and a 64-year-old Indonesian man – have died.

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