Since Phase 2 kicked in on June 19, people are out and about once more, dining in at F&B outlets is allowed again, and retail shops have reopened. Yet, life is looking a little different as we go about our daily lives. Masks are still mandatory outside the home, and safe distancing is still very much a part of life, especially as more folks are heading out to retail shops. 

But what exactly are the things you can and cannot do as you go about shopping at malls, stores or the supermarkets? All your questions about shopping in Phase 2 answered here.

Q: What should I expect when visiting a mall, retail store or supermarket?
A: All malls, large standalone stores, supermarkets, stores providing beauty services, and other large retail stores must implement SafeEntry for customers and visitors, to facilitate the collection of information for contact tracing when needed. 

You are required to follow the demarcated queue lines at entrances, cashier counters, weighing counters, fitting rooms and where required, and ensure at least one metre spacing between yourself and other customers.

You should expect to see malls and retailers put in place good hygiene practices, such as placing hand sanitisers in high-touch areas, conduct frequent cleaning, and requiring customers to maintain at least one metre spacing from each other. 

Q: Do I have to sanitise my hands before entering a store?
A: You are encouraged to sanitise your hands before entering a retail outlet and handling products on display.

Q: Will my temperature be taken at every store I go to?
A: All malls, large standalone stores, supermarkets and stores providing beauty services must conduct temperature screening and checks at entrances for visible symptoms in customers and visitors. This is unless the supermarkets/stores are located in malls which are already doing so. 

Q: Do I have to make an appointment with my optician or other service providers?
A: You are strongly encouraged to make an appointment with the optician or other service providers prior to your visit. This will help reduce crowding and queuing.   

Q: I want to try on some make-up products. Why can’t I find any testers and samples around in stores?
A: All product testers and samples that involve customer contact of common touchpoints, e.g. cosmetics and food samples, are not permitted and stores are required to remove them.

However, stores may distribute to customers individually packed samples, such as sachets, travel-sized products and gifts with purchase.

Q: Can I still pay with cash?
A: Self-checkout, cashless or contactless payments to minimise contact between individuals are encouraged. Businesses must also put up clear signage to remind customers of the safe management measures where applicable, and train service personnel to provide clear communication to customers on these measures.

Q: Can we expect to see malls holding atrium sales again?
A: Activities and events in stores or mall atriums must not be held as such events can increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Such activities may be allowed for supermarkets on a case-by-case basis, if an extension of existing retail space is a necessary part of safe management measures. Approval must be sought from Enterprise Singapore.

Q: Are shops allowed to hold in-store sales and promotions?
A: Retailers reopening in Phase 2 should avoid activities that would attract crowds (e.g. providing special discounts or offers for reopening). Retailers who wish to organise such activities must ensure that there is proper crowd control and safe management measures. Enforcement action will be taken against retailers that fail to do so. 

Q: What are the Safe Management Measures that retail store owners must implement?
A: All retail outlets must put in place safe management measures which can be found on the COVID GoBusiness Portal (covid.gobusiness.gov.sg) under ‘Safe Management Requirements’ and Enterprise Singapore’s website.

Businesses must ensure that all employees, customers, delivery personnel and persons on their premises adhere to the safe management measures at all times, such as wearing masks properly and maintaining a clear physical spacing of at least one metre with others. Businesses must also ensure regular and frequent cleaning and disinfection of common spaces such as counters where customers are served; items such as shopping trolleys/baskets and handrails, which have high human contact; and interactive hardware such as tablets or self-checkout kiosks. 

Products that customers touch frequently, such as clothes, footwear, jewellery, accessories and optical products, should be cleaned or sterilised frequently, wherever possible. Online retail and “click & collect” for goods should be encouraged.

Q: What type of crowd control measures should I expect at malls and large standalone stores?
A: Malls and large standalone stores can consider limiting the number of entrances that are open, and deploying queue management systems or staff to control the number of visitors entering and leaving the premises to comply with the allowable visitor capacity. 

Malls should also have processes in place to identify hotspots, and manage large crowds and long queues within and outside the malls. These may include re-directing customers to other outlets, breaking the queues into several sections, and implementing queue or appointment management systems. 

Q: I’m a retailer. Am I allowed to cross-deploy staff?
A: There should be no cross deployment or interaction between employees in different shifts, teams or worksites, even outside of work.

If cross deployment cannot be avoided due to operational reasons such as the nature of the job, for example IT support personnel or truck drivers or managerial staff supervising different office or store locations, retailers must take additional safeguards to minimise the risk of cross infection. Such safeguards should include minimising the number of premises that workers are cross-deployed to or putting in place systems to minimise direct contact with the cross-deployed personnel.

Q: Will shops or malls be fined for not complying with the safe management measures?
A: Government agencies will step up enforcement efforts to ensure the proper implementation of the safe management measures. If establishments are found to be non-compliant, they will be guided on finding suitable solutions. Subsequently, periodic checks will be conducted to ensure compliance. 

Businesses, including mall operators and their tenants, are accountable for their own safe management measures. If they do not implement or comply with the required measures, they may be ineligible for government grants, loans, tax rebates and other assistance. They may also face fines and jail terms under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act.

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