SHOPPING MALLS continue to implement health and safety protocols to ensure their customers can have a safe shopping experience, as Metro Manila is now under a general community quarantine.

Following government guidelines, mall operators are implementing standard health protocols such as requiring all customers to wear face masks and conducting temperature checks upon entry.

Malls have also placed hand sanitizers, alcohol dispensers and foot baths at entrances. A few open shops have also provided alcohol dispensers for customers.

For some shoppers, the malls’ measures give them some peace of mind, despite worries about the coronavirus.

Marie Soriano (not her real name) has not gone to a mall since the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine in mid-March.

Nakakapanibago mag-punta sa mall ngayon. Maganda na may mga alcohol pero medyo nakakakaba pa rin, even if naka-mask na (I’m not used to going to the mall today. It’s good that there is alcohol but still kind of nervous, even if I wear a mask),” she said before going inside the Ayala Trinoma Mall in Quezon City.

To discourage people from lingering, mall operators are required to set the air conditioning temperature at 26 Celsius and to remove free Wifi.

Malls are also limiting the number of people allowed to go inside, and to implement social distancing. Customers are asked to observe a two or three-step gap when using the escalator, while floor markings indicate where customers are supposed to stand while in line.

Araneta City opened its three Quezon City malls — Farmers Plaza, Gateway Mall and Ali Mall — on Monday. Since Farmers Plaza and Gateway are adjacent to the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 and Light Rail Transit Line 2, respectively, the company said it is implementing heightened security and sanitation at the entrance of the two malls.

“As we slowly go back to our usual daily routine, we continue to comply with the directives of the national and local government. This is to ensure that the City of Firsts will remain a safe place for everyone,” Antonio T. Mardo, senior vice-president for operations of Araneta City, said in a statement.

To cater to customers who are still wary of going outside, some mall operators are now offering personal shopper services, as well as online delivery or pick-up services.

Vista Mall and its anchor stores AllHome and All Day Supermarket have expanded personal shopper services amid the “new normal.”

“Adopting new and innovative ways to enable customers to still purchase essentials and other needs for their homes has become a priority for Vista Mall and its business partners,” the Villar-led company said in a statement.

AllDay Supermarket launched its personal shopper delivery service at the onset of the enhanced community quarantine. Other brands under the AllValue Group such as AllHome, AllSports, AllToys and Finds Discount Store, which have stores at Vista Malls, also offer the personal shopper service through Viber. Customers can have the items either delivered or picked up.

At Ayala and Robinsons Malls, customers can order in advance from selected open mall tenants via phone call or SMS and get the order at the designated stations outside the mall. Ayala Malls has a service called DriveBuy, while Robinsons Malls has pickup stations in Robinsons Place Manila, Robinsons Galleria and Robinsons Magnolia. — Cathy Rose A. Garcia