Friday, October 23, 2020

Owners insist SOPs in place after Covid-19 cases risk emptying malls again

Footfall is already on the decline despite the earlier revival in traffic after nearly three months of lockdown across the country.

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Major malls which recently reported Covid-19 cases could be deserted again, just four months after their doors re-opened to the public following their forced closure under the movement control order, the owner of one of the Klang Valley’s top shopping malls says.

Teo Chiang Kok of the 1 Utama Shopping Centre in Petaling Jaya said the infections happened despite retail owners strictly adhering to health SOPs to contain the pandemic.

“Everyone is wearing a mask and has been practising social distancing,” Teo, who also heads the Malaysia Shopping Malls Association, told MalaysiaNow.

Yesterday, Teo’s mall reported that a staff member at a computer outlet had been diagnosed with Covid-19.

The case was one of several isolated infections among workers at major shopping centres whose owners wasted no time in calming an anxious public shocked at the sharp spike in new Covid-19 cases nationwide.

Yesterday, the health ministry announced 432 new cases across the country, an all-time high since the pandemic was reported in Malaysia early this year.

Besides 1 Utama, outlets at Paradigm Mall, Nu Sentral, Sunway Pyramid and KL Gateway Mall have also reported Covid-19 cases.

Checks by MalaysiaNow at several malls in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya revealed that many were deserted as news about infections in retail outlets go viral on social media.

Teo admitted that footfall had been on the decline following the revival in traffic.

“Footfall had been seen increasing for the last two months and many malls were reporting around 80% to 90% of traffic,” he said.

But he said the public was simply being cautious.

“We hope that with all the precautions taken, confidence will return and we can get the desired footfall again,” Teo said.

Richard Chan, whose company provides consultancy services to several large malls in the country, said the recent incidents of Covid-19 in shopping centres were isolated.

“Everything is under control and business is as usual but with fewer customers,” Chan, of RCMC Sdn Bhd, told MalaysiaNow.

Mall owners said that there have not been any infections in their buildings in the last six months.

“Full sanitation, thorough disinfection and deep-cleaning of the areas visited by the Covid-19 patients have been carried out in full compliance with guidelines set by the Ministry of Health with close contacts being advised to self-quarantine,” the Malaysia Shopping Malls Association said yesterday.

The association also said the sometimes asymptomatic nature of Covid-19 makes it difficult to prevent new infections, but added that malls are adhering to SOPs as well as hygiene measures.

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