Is it safe to visit malls?

As much as consumers want to support their favourite businesses, they fear the possibility of being exposed to the coronavirus

by NUR HANANI AZMAN / pic by ARIF KARTONO

AS SELANGOR, Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur were put under the Conditional Movement Control Order effective today, many understood that shops are allowed to open but with tighter operating procedures.

For retailers, with cash dwindling, they have little choice but to continue operating despite news of Covid-19 being detected in various shopping malls which have led to temporary closures.

However, consumers are apprehensive. As much as they want to support their favourite businesses, they fear the possibility of being exposed to the coronavirus.

Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Prof Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said any high traffic areas will, of course, increase the risk of transmission especially if infected persons are present.

He said the right approach would be to assume there are asymptomatic persons everywhere and take all preventive measures.

“We should not be taking any chances. The main concern with shopping malls and any high traffic places would be crowd control. Can physical distancing be observed all over the mall?

“If malls can find ways to control traffic and reduce congestion, along with enforcing strict adherence to the standard operating procedures (SOPs), risks of Covid-19 transmissions can be reduced,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.

MMA believes shoppers would value and appreciate stricter measures imposed by the malls which could protect their shoppers and own staff.

Subramaniam said the risk of exposure to respiratory droplets from speaking at close distance, coughs or sneezes can increase in small and poorly ventilated spaces with high traffic.

Therefore, he added, it is important to keep our face masks on and maintain a safe physical distance.

“However, if people do have influenza like illnesses or severe acute respiratory infections symptoms, they should immediately seek medical attention and avoid going to public places.

“In high traffic, small and poorly ventilated spaces, risks will increase,” he said.

Subramaniam suggested for shopping mall managements to remind their tenants about strictly obeying the SOPs including limiting the number of people going into stores to prevent crowding.

“Mall management should also place reminders around the mall to ensure all shoppers observe the SOPs.

“MMA has observed that displaying warnings of fines for failing to comply with the SOPs is more effective. This usually gets everyone’s attention,” he said.

Meanwhile, former MMA president Dr John Chew urged everyone to stay home and avoid crowds while the infection rate is soaring.

“Many Covid-19 patients were found to have gotten infected while they were in crowded spaces,” he said, emphasising that home is the safest place to be during the pandemic.