intu outlines safety plans for reopening of shopping centres post lockdown

intu Lakeside
intu Lakeside

Shopping centre owner intu has revealed “individual plans have been drawn up for each centre” ahead of the gradual reopening of non-essential retail stores at its 14 centres nationwide – in line with Government guidelines amid the coronavirus crisis.

The plans aim to keep all visitors and workers safe, with new social distancing and hygiene procedures, as well offering support to help intu’s brand customers reopen safely.

The plans include placing limits on the number of people and cars allowed into each centre at any one-time, one-way systems for shoppers, floor stickers and staff training to ensure visitors stay socially distanced.

Matthew Roberts, chief executive of intu, said: “Experts from across intu have formed a specialist taskforce who have considered everything we need to run our centres as safely as possible, with a series of central, common principles for the portfolio and individual plans for each centre. This includes working with our brand customers and providing them with all the support they need to reopen safely.

“We have introduced enhanced cleaning regimes and hand sanitation stands throughout every centre, as well as measures to limit the number of visitors while ensuring they stay socially distanced once inside.”

Enhanced hygiene regimes that were introduced at the start of the outbreak will continue, with more deep cleaning of key areas and touchpoints like escalators, toilets and keypads. These measures have remained in place as centres provide vital access to essential services like pharmacies, supermarkets and banks during the lockdown period.

Hand sanitation stands will also remain at entrances and other locations throughout each centre for visitors to use during their visit.

Additionally, intu staff will be given personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep them safe, with face masks and gloves provided to frontline workers such as security and customer service staff, and visors issued to waste and environmental teams.

As reported this week, intu looks set to default on debts amid the COVID-19 impact. Shares in the company nudged lower as it said that talks with its lenders over its finances are continuing.

The business, which owns Manchester’s Trafford Centre, Lakeside in Essex and the Victoria Centre in Nottingham, said its sites remain closed for now, except for essential stores, but warned that the speed of the market recovery after the lockdown remains unclear.

Earlier this month, intu secured debt waivers until 26 June but said it still expected to breach its debt commitments by this deadline amid falling rental payments.