Westfield shopping centres reveal plans for reopening

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield has unveiled what it is calling “robust plans”
that will allow it to reopen Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City
when they are given the green light from the government, including
“heightened hygiene” measures, socially distanced queuing and one-way

The plans for Europe’s two largest shopping centres will see a phased
reopening that it states will not only meet all requirements outlined in
the government guidelines but go “above and beyond” utilising its guest
services teams as well as technology to ensure measures can be safely
adhered to.

Scott Parsons, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s regional managing director,
UK and Italy, said in a statement: “As we contemplate the next phase, I
welcome the announcement from Government that some shops will reopen from
June 1. Managing the health and safety element of reopening Westfield
London and Westfield Stratford City is our biggest priority right now and I
can confidently say that our robust plans not only meet all requirements
outlined in the government guidelines but go above and beyond.

“The sheer scale of our centres puts us in a unique position where we
can very safely manage the customer journey throughout the malls. As well
as heightened hygiene measures across every touch point, we have technology
to monitor footfall and flows and ensure social distancing is practiced, as
well as the benefit of onsite security and guest services teams to
carefully control the measures at all times.”

The reopening, expected in June, would mean that 30,000 people can get
back to work. However, the shopping centres did note that they have yet to
receive confirmation from the government on which shops will be allowed to

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Westfield puts “robust plans” including heightened hygiene measures,
socially distanced queuing and one-way systems

Preparations have already started to ensure a safe and welcoming
environment for retailers, shoppers and employees to return, and these
include learnings from the group’s centres across Europe, some of which
have already started to reopen.

These measures will include people control measures to monitor the
number of visitors in and out of the centres, socially distanced queuing
systems and floor spacing, cashless car parks and social distancing
parking. This it states is possible due to technology, such as live
footfall cameras and manpower managing the one-way in-centre traffic.

Other plans include the heightened hygiene and deep cleaning of all
public spaces and hand sanitisers being available throughout the centres,
as well as the use of indoor and outdoor screens to display key
communication messages and floor stickers to mark out social distancing.

All the guidelines will be “carefully controlled” in both centres, added
Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, and have been produced in-line with WHO
guidelines as well as the recommendations and advice from the UK

Parsons added: “We understand that people will be very cautious about
returning to any public locations, and rightfully so – this pandemic has
had a deviating effect on our communities. We don’t underestimate the
importance of getting these measures right, not only to ensure everyone
coming into our centres is safe, but that they also feel confident that
their wellbeing is genuinely being considered at every point.

“Our centres will be ready to open as soon as we get confirmation from
the government that we are able to do so, and we look forward to welcoming
our retailers, local communities and employees back.”

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Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield calls on additional support for retailers
from government

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield also called on the government to provide
“additional support” for retailers, adding that while it has “appreciated”
the various packages to protect both employees and businesses, including
the job retention scheme and business rates support for hospitality and
retail, it would like to see more being done. This includes developing a
retailer rent support scheme, as well as an extension of the business rates
holiday to vacant units on both those that were vacant before the crisis
set in, and those that will never reopen as a result.

Image: courtesy of Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield


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