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Westfield outlines shopping centre re-opening plans

Tom Shearsmith
20 May 2020

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield has announced it has robust plans in place for the full re-opening of its Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City shopping centres when lockdown restrictions are potentially relaxed in June.

The company said its plans will include all health and safety measures outlined in the Safer Public Places document published by the government to ensure that consumers, staff and retailers have a safe and welcoming environment to return to.

Taking learnings from many of the Group’s centres across Europe, some of which have already started to reopen, preparations in the UK centres include people control measures to monitor the number of visitors in and out of the centres and socially distanced queuing systems and floor spacing.

Measures due to be implemented:

  • Heightened hygiene and deep cleaning of all public spaces and hand sanitisers throughout the centres.
  • The ability to manage the number of people entering the centres in a controlled and safely distanced manner using technology such as live footfall cameras and one-way systems where required.
  • Highly experienced and fully trained Security and Guest Services teams in place to manage queuing systems, as well as direct communications with every retailer to manage flows and numbers.
  • Use of indoor and outdoor screens to display key communication messages and floor stickers to mark social distancing spaces.
  • Cashless car parks with social distancing parking as well as large numbers of bike racks and Santander bike docking stations.
Westfield Stratford 2020
Westfield Stratford 2020

Scott Parsons, Westfield’s Regional Managing Director, said: "The sheer scale of our centres puts us in a unique position where we can very safely manage the customer journey throughout the malls.

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.”

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, 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.

Group CEO, Group CFO, and all members of the Group’s Senior Management Team have taken the initiative to reduce their pay by 25% for the period during which partial activity measures will be in place.

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