’Plain malls outline plans for lockdown

Fuzlin Sinclair

In his announcement on Monday March 23 advising of a national 21-day lockdown from midnight on Thursday March 26, President Cyril Ramaphosa said people would be able to leave their homes only for food, grants and medication.

The Plainsman asked local shopping centres such as Liberty Promenade Mall, Watergate Mall and the Town Centre what measures they had in place to comply with the lockdown.

Watergate Mall centre manager, Fuzlin Sinclair, said they would continue to trade through essential service tenants such as, Shoprite, Clicks, Die Visfabriek, The Butcher Shoppe, ATMs, Engen Garage and other food services.

Guarding will be strategically located to strengthen security presence and assist in crowd control when necessary. Essential trading tenants will apply similar safety and security practices within stores, to effectively manage social distancing while limiting crowds to less than 100 people, said Ms Sinclair.

Watergate will also ensure liquor trading tenants comply with designated times as per the latest government directive. Unlike enclosed shopping centres, Watergate is an open-air centre, which makes social distancing easier to control as a shopper. Watergate has put up information posters on Covid-19 and hygiene guidelines.

Tenants, owners and managers are to implement the necessary precautionary measures to safeguard their staff and shoppers.

Brian Unsted, asset management executive at Liberty Two Degrees (L2D), owners of the Liberty Promenade Mall, said as part of their commitment to creating safe and sustainable spaces,they had implemented the World Health Organisation recommended sanitisation measures across the mall, and the complex would continue to be fogged to remove any surface contamination. Increased cleaning and hygiene protocols have also been implemented, which include increased frequency of cleaning cycles, specifically in high-touch and high-traffic common areas.

With the new lockdown information, Liberty Promenade management is in the process of discussing its trading hours and how it will be operating in the weeks to come, Mr Unsted said.

Regular updates have been provided to employees with prevention and hygiene campaigns. Updates to all tenants in relation to the virus are also being provided regularly, he said.

All events and activations that were due to be hosted at the mall have been cancelled or postponed with immediate effect, Mr Unsted said.

“We remain in a state of preparation and are closely monitoring and following guidelines from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and the Department of Health,” he said.

The Plainsman contacted Westgate Mall management, which could not respond at the time of going to print as they had a meeting on the way forward for lockdown at that time. Other shopping centres which could not respond to the Plainsman in time include Lentegeur shopping centre, where Mitchell’s Plain’s biggest cash and carry store, Winners Supermarket, is located.

Pick n  Pay stores will open all its supermarkets and hypermarkets an hour earlier every Wednesday for elderly customers to shop for their groceries and essentials. These earlier opening hours have been operational since Wednesday March 18.

Stores will be open exclusively for customers over the age of 65 years from 7am to 8am. Customers should have a valid ID to enter the store during this time.

“A special shopping hour for pensioners was a great suggestion by our online community and we very quickly worked with our stores to make this a reality,” said John Bradshaw, retail executive of marketing at Pick n  Pay.

“All our actions are focused on supporting the well-being of our customers. We know that the coronavirus is more of a threat to older people, and it is thus especially important that our older customers limit the number of times they are in busy spaces as much as possible. This dedicated shopping hour for our elderly customers will give them exclusive use of the store.”

Seniors will earn double points in-store on shopping in their allocated time. Customers can claim this voucher at the Smart Shopper kiosk or by using Pick n  Pay’s mobile app provided they have updated their Smart Shopper profile with their date of birth.

Informal traders across Mitchell’s Plain and in the rest of the country will now have to wait and see how their livelihoods are impacted as they are not allowed to work during the national lockdown.

Mr Ramaphosa said on Monday only essential services and personnel would be able to leave their homes for 21-days – that is from midnight on Thursday March 26 until midnight on Thursday April 16.

He also said that a safety net was being developed to support people in the informal sector, where most businesses would suffer as a result of this shutdown.

“More details will be announced as soon as we have completed the work of assistance measures that will be put in place,” he said.

Grant Twigg, the mayoral committee member for urban management, said they would help informal traders to access the support from the government, while they were on lockdown.

He said traders would have to see whether they qualify for assistance.

Mr Twigg called on traders to stay in touch with their local municipal officials, who could help them access the necessary support. “We have traders across the city and their data, which would inform us of their status and whether they qualify for assistance,” he said.

Mr Twigg reiterated the president’s words that “now we have to put lives before income”.

Additional reporting by Fouzia van der Fort.