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Glass partitions and ‘gloves on request’: Retailers scramble to put measures in place before stores reopen on June 19

SINGAPORE — Retailers in Singapore are taking precautionary measures up a notch as they prepare to welcome customers into their stores for the first time in more than two months on Friday (June 19).

Retailers in Singapore are ratcheting up precautions in anticipation of reopening on June 19, 2020.

Retailers in Singapore are ratcheting up precautions in anticipation of reopening on June 19, 2020.

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SINGAPORE — Retailers in Singapore are taking precautionary measures up a notch as they prepare to welcome customers into their stores for the first time in more than two months on Friday (June 19).  

Some are installing glass partitions around cashier counters and planning to isolate products for up to 24 hours after customers try them on. Others will provide patrons testing out shoes and beds with disposable socks and mattress linings, and even gloves on request. 

But not all retailers are in a hurry to reopen their doors. Some are opting to take more time to plan and reconfigure their spaces to comply with government rules on safe reopening. 

The authorities announced on Monday that the country will enter Phase Two of its economic reopening after an eight-week circuit breaker to contain the spread of Covid-19. Phase One started on June 2, with limited easing of the restrictions.  

Virtually the entire economy will stir back to life on Friday, with most retail stores allowed to resume business.

But retailers must follow a set of guidelines, including ensuring patrons stay 1m from one another, and regularly disinfecting products and commonly touched areas. All stores must also roll out the SafeEntry visitor-management system and monitor the temperatures of patrons at entrances. 


Retailers which spoke to TODAY said that they would be taking extra precautions to protect the well-being of customers. These include disinfecting apparel worn by customers as recommended by the authorities — some plan to isolate the products for 24 hours.

Fashion retailer Wing Tai Retail, which manages brands such as Topshop, Uniqlo, Adidas and G2000, said that shoes and clothes tried on by customers will be disinfected with sanitising spray and steam, and set aside for a day before being returned to the racks.

Customers who do not wish to try on clothes in stores will be given a sizing guide. The period for returns will be extended from 14 to 30 days for customers’ convenience, Wing Tai Retail said.

To minimise contact between staff members and shoppers, the retailer will also be installing glass partitions at its cashier counters. 

To prevent overcrowding in stores, customers will be given the option of reserving their products online before booking an appointment to collect them from the shops, Wing Tai Retail said. 

Department store Robinsons Singapore told TODAY that it is planning to install ultraviolet (UV) lighting on its fashion floor. The lighting produces ozone that reduces air-borne micro-organisms.

To ensure optimal hygiene, product sampling for beauty items can be done only with help from crew members. Disposable socks and mattress linings will also be provided to shoppers who are giving shoes and beds a try, Robinsons said. 

Benjamin Barker, a men’s clothing retailer, will also apply a disinfectant to items that customers have tried on.

The brand, which has stores in places such as VivoCity and Funan shopping centres, will also mark out lines at different parts of the stores to ensure that customers queue in an orderly manner and observe the 1m distancing rule. 

Benjamin Barker said it would also continue to encourage its customers to pay through contactless methods.

Retailer Harvey Norman, which sells a range of lifestyle products including electronics and furniture, said it would station officers in every store to enforce safe-distancing measures, and offer gloves to customers on request. 

It will also provide hand sanitiser, encourage cashless payments and routinely disinfect commonly touched products, such as mobile phones and notebook computers. 

Electronics retailer Courts will make it mandatory for staff members to don gloves and stickers stating that they have taken their temperatures. Employees will also be required to stagger shifts to reduce interaction, said a spokesperson. 

Audio House, another electronics retailer, does not expect to be overwhelmed when it reopens its store along Bendemeer Road on Friday, as its online service has been able to meet consumer demand during the circuit breaker. 

Mr Alvin Lee, its managing director, said that it would disinfect the premises and commonly touched areas daily, hire more people to conduct temperature-taking and encourage cashless payments.

Mothercare, which sells baby products, will reopen all but one of its 11 shops on Friday, citing a manpower shortage. Its outlet at Jewel Changi Airport will stay closed.

Mr Pang Fu Wei, its managing director, said that some of its Malaysian employees had decided to return home after Singapore's authorities announced the circuit breaker in early April.  

Mothercare will ensure safe distancing and provide hand sanitiser in its stores. It will also deploy UV sterilisers and clean the premises twice daily. 

The retailer will also have priority shopping hours for pregnant women on weekends from 10am to 11am at its HarbourFront outlet, and 9.30am to 10.30am at its Paragon store. This is to be “sensitive to expectant mothers and ensure their safety”, Mr Pang said. 


While many retailers are raring to get their businesses going again in Phase Two, others have decided not to reopen immediately.  

Ms Victoria Martin-Tay, co-founder of the Boom Singapore gym in Cecil Street, is looking to reopen for business in a week or two.

“We want to take the time to understand our space and the guidelines, so we can manage the flow of people, to ensure both our patrons and staff are safe,” said Ms Tay. 

Even so, Ms Tay said that some plans are afoot, including a longer gap of 40 minutes between workout sessions instead of the usual 20 minutes, to allow more time for disinfection and to reduce interaction between customers. 

Japanese fashion and lifestyle retailer Lumine Singapore, which runs a 10,000 sqf store at Clarke Quay Central mall, said it would reopen next Monday, three days after the start of Phase Two. 

“Since we had been closed for about two months now, we would like to make sure all hygiene and safety measures, including our employee protocol, are in place before resuming normal operation,” Lumine said. 

It added: “We want to make our sales floor more exciting with new arrivals, new brands and more sale items, before we receive our valued customers.”

Related topics

Phase 2 circuit breaker retail Covid-19 coronavirus

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