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COVID-19: When S'pore Malls Reopen, Expect To See Disinfection Robots And Contactless Lifts

Singapore’s ‘circuit breaker’ measures officially ended on June 2 and we are slowly gearing up for Phase 2, which is expected to start before the end of this month.

In Phase 2, retail shops and consumer services will be allowed to operate — which also means malls will finally reopen in Singapore.

Despite the lift of the retail ban, not all Singaporeans will immediately flock to the mall due to lingering fears of the pandemic.

A survey by retail predictive analytics company First Insight revealed that more than half (65 per cent for women and 54 per cent for men) of the respondents said they will not feel safe trying on clothes in dressing rooms due to Covid-19.

A similar percentage for both genders said that they will not feel comfortable working with sales associates in retail stores.

This is a problem because retail is already badly hit in Singapore, with sales plunging 40.5 per cent in April amid the ‘circuit breaker’.

This is why real estate developers CapitaLand and Frasers Property have tapped on technology to prepare for the safe reopening of its malls. Here’s a closer look at some of their tech deployments:

1. UV Disinfenction Robots

Image Credit: Frasers Property

In April 2020, Frasers Property Retail announced a collaboration with PBA Group to become the first mall operator in Singapore to roll out the made-in-Singapore UV disinfecting autonomous mobile robots.

Called Sunburst UV Bot, each of them is equipped with a camera, built-in sensors, software, and an ultraviolet-C light module which emit powerful UV-C rays to eradicate viruses.

The first UV Bot has been rolled out at Northpoint City, with 10 more UV Bots to be rolled out to the other malls by the end of this month.

CapitaLand has also jumped on the UV disinfection robot bandwagon. It will deploy them after mall operating hours to conduct daily disinfection of high shopper traffic floors to complement disinfection routines carried out by cleaning staff.  

In June, the robots will be introduced at the basement floors and level one of Tampines Mall and Bukit Panjang Plaza — which are two high traffic malls identified by the authorities — and will be progressively rolled out at other CapitaLand malls.

2. Disinfection Floormats

A first for Singapore malls, CapitaLand has introduced disinfection floormats at its malls.

A disinfection solution will be poured over the floormats, allowing shoppers’ soles to be cleaned when they step on the floormats. Thereafter, shoppers can dry their soles by stepping onto a runner mat.

These floormats will be placed at key entrances, and changed out and cleaned twice daily.  

3. Anti-Microbial Coating For High Contact Areas

Image Credit: CapitaLand

High contact areas in all CapitaLand and Frasers Property malls including lifts and lift buttons, door entrance buttons, handrails, touch screens, toilet cubicles and basins, family rooms and customer service counters will progressively be coated with an anti-microbial disinfectant.

Using a technology researched and developed in Singapore, treated surfaces can guard against bacteria and virus for up to six months, compared with general cleaning and disinfection which is effective only at the point of application.

Complementing the anti-microbial coating, CapitaLand will continue to clean and disinfect all high contact touch points at stepped up frequency of once every two to three hours. 

Frasers Property is also ramping up the frequency of cleaning in its malls to safeguard against bacteria and viruses.

4. Lift Car Disinfection With PhotoPlasma Technology

Image Credit: CapitaLand

Besides the wipe-down and cleaning at lifts, toilets and common areas, Frasers Property will also apply disinfectant coating using PhotoPlasma technology on lift cars, lift buttons, toilets, and other high contact areas for enhanced safety.

All lift cars in CapitaLand malls will be installed with PhotoPlasma air disinfection system from June onwards.

This technology will energise atmospheric air into a plasma state, eliminating air-borne and surface microorganisms such as virus and bacteria. 

The PhotoPlasma air disinfection system in lift cars will be complemented by anti-microbial coating and general cleaning procedures to disinfect lift surfaces.

5. Automatic Escalator Handrail Disinfection, Contactless Lift Activation

The Atrium@Orchard will be the first mall in Singapore to trial the automated escalator handrail disinfection and contactless lift activation system. 

With an Ultra UV device installed in the escalator system, handrails will be efficiently disinfected when the escalator is in use. These devices will be built into two high traffic escalators, ensuring that tenants and shoppers are not exposed to UV light. 

Two lifts at The Atrium@Orchard will also be fitted with a QR code registration device, allowing tenants and shoppers to scan a QR code and activate the lifts without contact with lift buttons.

The Usual Safety Measures Will Still Be In Place

In line with current regulations, existing safety measures such as temperature screening using thermal scanners and checking in and out using SafeEntry to support contact tracing will continue to be in place for all mall visitors.

To reduce physical contact points, Frasers Property has disabled the push buttons for sliding doors, and opening or closing of doors will be automatically detected by motion sensors.

More hand sanitisers will also be deployed near high touch surfaces in the malls such as on pillars near escalator landings, entrances, and atriums. To facilitate safe distancing, malls have also put up signs and queue markers.

While shoppers are required to wear masks, face shields will be distributed to tenants, frontline staff, and vendors as an added layer of protection to keep them safe.

As part of Temasek Foundation’s Stay Prepared initiative, frontliners working in CapitaLand malls will each receive two complimentary face shields. CapitaLand will distribute over 47,000 face shields to recipients across its malls from the first week of June 2020.

Meanwhile, Frasers Property Retail has committed US$50,000 to purchase its first batch of made-in-Singapore masks from Razer’s mask manufacturing line. The masks will be distributed to over 1,300 tenants across 14 malls and all frontline staff at Frasers Property Retail.

Featured Image Credit: AFP via Getty Images

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