Thailand is preparing to ease more restrictions and re-open more businesses in the country as early as this Sunday, however, the country is taking every precaution possible to attempt to ensure there is no further outbreak, especially in regards to shopping malls.
In Thailand, various ultra-modern, large shopping malls like Terminal 21 and Central Festival in Pattaya, dominate the landscape and are still very popular, unlike some of their counterparts in the west, being a significant area for people to meet, socialize, exercise and, of course, shop.
Due to the Covid-19 Coronavirus, most shopping malls in the country have been closed for almost two months-however they are increasingly likely to be re-opened as early as this Sunday in the country. A final decision from the Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-O-Cha, is expected to come tomorrow afternoon after he deliberates on suggestions made by a large panel of business, medical and political experts.
Regardless if they open this weekend, when shopping malls do, the experience will be very different for most shoppers. For one, not everything will likely be flagged for re-opening-venues deemed as high risk, like cinemas, bars, theme parks, bowling alleys, arcades, spas, massage shops (except possibly foot massages) and essentially anything in the entertainment world will likely remain force closed until a future phase of relaxing measures.
What else will be different? Well, nearly everything, according to senior management from major shopping mall groups like the Siam Piwat Company and the Central Group. Many of these items will be implemented from the reopening of the malls, senior management told the press.
Central has said disinfectant spraying drones will be in use at many of their malls, spraying walkways, railings and surfaces.
Robots that roam around the mall and measure temperature, alerting security staff if someone is found too high, will be in place at malls owned by the Siam group. Someone that tests high will be suggested (but not forced) to visit a local hospital for a checkup.
Staff in many malls will be assigned to run elevators and open doors, ensuring that only one person touches those surfaces. Temperature checks and sanitizer will be mandatory to enter many malls and available entrances may be reduced. All Staff will wear masks, gloves and most will also wear face shields.
Individual stores will have many rules and regulations as well and most, if not all, will likely implement mandatory contact tracing through an incoming government app or simply an old fashioned log, like is already being used in beauty salons. The tracking may require your full name and a form of identification, such as a Thai ID or a passport.
Food courts and restaurant staff will need to follow all hygiene measures, such as face masks, gloves and face shields but some malls have said they are going one step further with large plastic partitions at tables in food courts to separate diners. Many tables and chairs are being removed to ensure social distancing is encouraged.
Hand Sanitizer dispensers are being set up across the malls in Thailand throughout the weekend.
Security Staff will be on duty at many malls in the country to help inform people of physical/social distancing violations and help separate shoppers and groups.
Many malls will likely rope off or remove all seating, massage chairs, relaxation areas, play areas, free wi fi and gathering areas to discourage groups from sitting and socializing.
Numbers of customers entering the mall will be limited and the amount of customers allowed in shops at the same time will also be controlled. Security Staff at some malls will be asked to watch for people spending too much time “wandering” malls, although a previously discussed time limit will likely not be implemented according to mall management staff that spoke to the press this morning. Queues, using electronic pagers, will be encouraged at busier stores.
At this time, no entertainment, common in malls in Thailand, will be provided as well, so there will be no shows, events, singing, performances, giveaways, etc.
Regular announcements in Thai and English will be programmed to help in reminding people of good hygiene practices and to socially distance that will be played throughout some malls, including restrooms.
Cleaning of restrooms, escalators, elevators and food courts will take place every thirty minutes, according to mall management, and more staff would be allocated to these purposes.
Siam Piwet Malls will even have vending machines placed throughout the mall to provide masks and sanitizer.
Although some mall management officials with Siam and Central have stated that they agree the measures seem somewhat drastic but are needed to be able to safely open malls at this period. They also said that many of these measures likely won’t last forever as/if the situation improves and things can gradually loosen and relax. However, at opening, a shopping mall experience could be dramatically different in Thailand. The Pattaya News notes that some similar drastic measures implemented when restaurants reopened have already been relaxed at most venues due to negative feedback, like lack of air conditioning or partitions blocking family members from sitting together.
Thailand announced a total of one (1) case of the Covid-19 Coronavirus nationwide today, and zero the prior day.
Do you plan on visiting a shopping mall when they reopen? Do you feel these measures make you feel safe or are over the top? Tell us in the comments below.