KUALA LUMPUR, May 4 – The first day of the conditional movement control order (CMCO) saw some malls in Kuala Lumpur slowly waking up like a bear who is shaking off the shackles of hibernation.
At the same time, it also saw the new norm under the Covid-19 pandemic being practiced, such as security guards checking the temperature of shoppers before allowing them entry into the premises or into the shopping outlets.
Mid Valley Megamall
For instance, Mid Valley Megamall, which is one of the largest shopping centres in the country together with the neighbouring The Gardens Mall have taken an extra step to separate and control the movement of the office workers employed in its tower blocks and their patrons who are there to shop at their various outlets.
“All lateral parking lots here and the Gardens have been reserved for those with season pass only. We want to control the movement of the office workers and the shoppers while limiting their interaction.
“Shoppers can park their car at our basement parking in Zones A and C, which have two levels of parking. They can also park at the basement area of the Gardens, which have four levels of parking,” said a customer service officer who requested anonymity.
The officer further explained that the management has decided to close off the East main entrance on the ground floor of the mall, leaving only three main entrances which are located at the West, South and North wings of their premise.
At the same time, it has also locked up all other side entrances as well as some basement carpark entrance barring the loading bay.
All entry points, including those from the parking lots are manned by a security counter with a thermometer gun to screen shoppers before allowing them entry. He added that all patrons coming to shop at the mall must wear a face mask or they will be denied entry.
“If they don’t have a face mask, we have a little donation box. For RM1, they can buy one face mask from our staff before they are allowed to enter our premises. If they want to enter our tenants’ shops, they will have their temperature checked again.
“I think the management has also told our tenants to limit the number of customers based on the size of their shops to ensure there is proper social distancing. For instance, a tiny shop might only allow a single customer to do their shopping.
“This calculation is based on the square feet of the shop,” said the officer.
Malay Mail had also noted that the usually bustling and packed mall seemed rather melancholic as many of the shops still had their shutters closed.
The officer explained that today, only 50 per cent or around 270 shops in the gigantic mall was open. Some shops are in the process of cleaning up and restacking the shelves so they can be ready for tomorrow while others have opted for the May 12 date before opening their doors again.
He explained further that even though the mall’s opening hours are from 10am to 10pm, they have relaxed some of their regulations to benefit their tenants. Based on their business, some tenants are allowed to open from 10am to 7pm while others can operate from 11am to 7pm.
When asked regarding his personal feelings on coming back to work during the CMCO, the officer simply said: “I’m worried.”
Meanwhile, at neighbourhood shopping mall Bangsar Village (BV) 1 and 2, operations manager Jean Ong told the Malay Mail that they are conducting temperature screenings at all entrances, including the seven entry points at BV1 while minimising the entry points in BV2.
“We are a neighbourhood mall and many of our patrons are the elderly. We cannot simply minimise and lock up some of our entry points at BV1, because our regulars will have a long way to walk before they can enter our premises. We must make it convenient for them because of their age.
“We do conduct temperature screenings before we allow them into our premises but we don’t ask them to leave if they don’t have face masks. Our tenants are the ones who will stop them from entering into their stores if they don’t have face masks.
“Also, sometimes the customers are there to purchase the face mask from our pharmacies. We can’t bar them from getting it,” Ong explained.
When told of how Mid Valley is handling the face mask issue, Ong said that it was something that she can propose to their management.
Touching on the mall’s opening hours, she said that they are operating from 10am to 10pm but they have granted flexibility for their tenants to choose their own operating hours until May 12.
Leasing manager Vincent Siow added that they are not forcing anyone to open their shops.
However, the first day of the CMCO still saw around 70 per cent of their tenants opening their doors for business, which is 20 per cent more when compared to Mid Valley Megamall, although BV1 and BV2 have fewer stores in total.
Similar to stores in Mid Valley Megamall, some stores in BV1 and 2 are in the midst of preparing a reopening for tomorrow.
Siow explained that some of their customers need time to prepare their POS system while others are busy cleaning and shelving their wares.
Touching on how they plan to maintain social discipline among their shoppers, Siow said that their tenants will propose to them their own plans.
“One of our tenants have already drawn up their floor plan and marked the areas where shoppers can distance themselves. We don’t think limiting them to how many customers per square feet of their stores is practical.
“Sometimes the way they design their stores also have an impact on social distancing. It is better that they know how to space their customers and propose it to us. We are here to help them facilitate them and our main goal is to support our tenants,” Siow said.
When asked regarding BV1 and 2’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri plans, Siow simply said: “All Raya activities have been cancelled.”