Many shopping malls in South Africa have implemented measures to control the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
As part of its steps to curb the spread, however, the South African government has placed a ban on gatherings of more than 100 people.
As shopping malls often see thousands of people moving within a confined space over short periods, these areas pose a heightened risk for contraction of the virus.
MyBroadband spoke to prominent malls in the country to hear what actions they were taking to ensure their facilities don’t become hotspots for the virus.
Mall of Africa
None of the malls indicated an intention to close doors or shut down any stores on their premises.
However, most have taken additional measures to improve cleaning and hygiene in line with guidelines put forward by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Melt Hamman, CEO of Attacq – the majority owner of Mall of Africa – said the company has implemented WHO-recommended sanitation measures across all its assets.
To ensure compliance with recommended safety standards, Hamman met with national retailer tenants to discuss their responses to COVID-19.
“Service providers at the mall have been instructed to supply copies of their respective COVID-19 business continuity plans to ensure we have a line of sight of the measures they will implement to protect employees and customers,” Hamman stated.
The company has also postponed any marketing initiatives at its facilities that will attract more than 100 people.
Additionally, internal protocols for cases where employees are suspected to be infected with the virus have been set.
The Kolonnade Mall in Pretoria said it will keep the minimum level of operational staff and security in place to continue with the safe and practical operation of its facilities.
It has taken precautionary measures to protect the health of its staff and said it was imperative that stores in the mall follow the guidelines set out by the WHO.
Canal Walk CEO Gavin Wood said the Cape Town mall regards the health and safety of staff and customers as its top priority.
“We are being proactive and diligent in protecting our shoppers, tenants and employees, following the WHO’s recommended preventative protocol, and keeping in continuous contact with the relevant local health authorities,” Wood stated.
Woodlands Boulevard in Pretoria East said it established a COVID-19 task team to implement the relevant guidelines and measures of the local health authorities and protocols as advised by the South African government.
It has added “detailed, visible communication” throughout the mall which outlines preventative measures to safeguard against COVID-19 transmission.
Multiple other malls in Gauteng have noted via social media that they have implemented improved hygiene control and cleaning measures.
These include Rosebank Mall in Johannesburg and The Grove Mall in Pretoria.
Canal Walk, Kolonnade, Mall of Africa, Rosebank Mall, The Grove Mall, and Woodlands Boulevard all said they have introduced improved cleaning processes.
“Our cleaning chemicals have been changed to alcohol-based products with an alcohol concentration of 70%” Kollonade stated.
Woodlands Boulevard said its enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols will pay particular attention to high-touch zones, back-of-house, and delivery areas. Canal Walk noted it has taken similar precautions.
“We have introduced additional precautionary measures for the safety of guests and enhanced cleaning procedures, including increasing our cleaning staff and using disinfectants that have the prescribed alcohol content,” Wood said.
Most of the malls have said that suitable hand sanitisers will be made available to customers.
Mall of Africa has installed hand sanitisers in shared spaces, while Rosebank Mall said it would provide “additional hand sanitising equipment”.
Both Kolonnade and Woodlands Boulevard told MyBroadband they plan to install hand sanitisers at all mall entrances, customer care kiosks.
“Hand sanitising agents will be installed in all public restrooms as an added measure,” Kolonnade said. “Sanitising wipes, hand sanitiser at cash desks and tills are vital additions to stores,” it noted.
Wood said that Canal Walk has added extra sanitiser stations throughout the mall to assist with hygiene practices. He encouraged customers to wash their hands often and thoroughly or to use an alcohol-based sanitiser.
The mall has advised its staff to wash their hands regularly, especially in cases where they often handle money.