California is slowly beginning the process of “re-opening.” Business and other operations across the state will not be the same as they were prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, Californians will be able to enjoy access to a variety of things that have been unavailable for an extended period of time. These include shopping centers and malls.
There are a trio of elements associated with keeping California shopping malls as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Physical distancing protocols and guidelines for California shopping centers and malls
Cleaning and disinfecting protocols and guidelines for California shopping centers and malls
Recurring regular deep cleaning and disinfection for California shopping centers and malls
Physical Distancing Protocols and Guidelines for California Shopping Centers and Malls
An extensive set of protocols and guidelines have been developed in regard to physical distancing at California shopping centers and malls during the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention affirms that social distancing or physical distancing has proven to be the most effective strategy to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. As the state of California reopens, including shopping malls, coordinated physical distancing tactics have become all the more important.
- Implement comprehensive, coordinated measures to physically separate people when in the shopping center by at least six feet. These measures can include physical partitions as well as visual cues, or a combination of both. A visual cue to aid in ensuring proper physical distancing includes floor marking, colored tape, and signs.
- Minimize exposure between mall and store workers and patrons. When at all possible, use barriers between workers and customers. Effective barriers are made from substances like Plexiglass.
- In situations and settings in which barriers between workers and customers are not possible, the recommendation is for workers and customers to wear masks. Indeed, the wearing of masks should be liberally utilized throughout mall property.
- Contemplate reassigning physically or medically vulnerable workers to reduce contact between them and other workers and patrons. Coordinate these special shopping times with stores within the mall.
- Require onsite security personnel to remind customers (and others) of physical distancing requirements.
- Liberally display signage throughout the mall reminding workers and customers of physical distancing requirements. Include signage in mall common areas as well as within individual stores and shops in the complex. Include information on signage addressing modified foot traffic patterns, modified mall hours, and face-covering requirements.
- Limit the number of workers and patrons within specific areas in the mall generally and within stores specifically to ensure at least a six feet separation between people.
- Establish specific mall hours for senior citizens and other vulnerable populations. Consider having these times at the start of a mall’s operational day before others have been through the facility raising the prospect of COVID-19 contamination on surfaces and objects.
- Strive to increase the use of delivery services and curbside pickup.
- Enhance the use of controlled foot traffic and crowd management within the mall. Establish separate entrance and exit doors to better ensure more manageable traffic flow in and out of the facility.
- Make certain that kiosks do not interfere with physical distancing. Kiosks may need to be resituated or even removed to ensure appropriate physical distancing in a mall.
- Prop doors open whenever possible if they do not open automatically.
- Limit the number of people in the mall and individual shops. In any case, at no time should a mall or store in the facility reach more than 50 percent of maximum occupancy.
- Chairs and tables throughout a mall need to be properly arranged to ensure minimum physical distancing. This may require rearranging chairs and tables in a food court.
- Close play areas in a mall.
- Establish a system of queueing outside of a mall when the 50 percent occupancy level is reached.
- Alter the manner in which staff meetings are held. Consider telephone conferences and the use of digital meeting applications whenever possible.
- Make certain any break areas can be reconfigured to allow for physical distancing. If they cannot be altered in this manner, they need to be closed.
- Employee breaks should be staggered in a way that ensures compliance with physical distancing mandates.
- Ensure that physical distancing is maintained during deliveries to the mall and businesses at the premises.
- Make certain vendors and other noncustomer visitors to the mall comply with established physical distancing requirements.
Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols and Guidelines for California Shopping Centers and Malls
- Perform thorough, regular cleaning in high traffic areas throughout the time the mall is open and operating.
- Disinfect frequently used surfaces and objects. These include counters and doorknobs or handles.
- Turn off drinking fountains throughout the shopping center.
- Clean and sanitize equipment between uses when utilized by different individuals.
- Clean touchable surfaces regularly.
- Equip entrances, exits, and promenades with sanitation products, including hand sanitizer. Make sure food courts and other common spaces have sanitation products and hand sanitizer available.
- When undertaking routine cleaning and sanitization in the mall, use products and agents approved for use in combating COVID-19. The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, maintains a publicly available approved list (at the link included in this sentence).
- Modify mall operational hours to ensure adequate time for thorough cleaning.
- Install hands-free devices throughout the mall whenever possible.
- Encourage the use of credit or debit cards by customers rather than cash.
- Consider upgrades to facility air filtration and ventilation systems.
Recurring Regular Deep Cleaning and Disinfection for California Shopping Centers and Malls
In addition to following the physical distancing and cleaning mandates discussed a moment ago, shopping centers and malls will also need to undertake recurring regular deep cleaning and disinfection. This type of service is most reliably and effectively performed by a COVID-19 cleaning company. A reputable coronavirus cleaning and disinfection company will work closely with a shopping center, as well as stores in a mall, to develop a comprehensive plan for COVID-19 contamination prevention and remediation.