SINGAPORE: Furniture giant IKEA will open on Friday (Jun 19) with strict safe distancing measures, although its food and beverage offerings and kids’ facilities will remain closed for now.
Its two outlets at Tampines and Alexandra will reduce opening hours, limit the number of people inside and close their car parks if queues get too long.
More workers will be deployed for crowd control inside and outside the building, including safe distancing ambassadors who will usher customers along and ensure they don’t bunch up.
Staff will increase the cleaning frequency to once every hour, focusing on high-touch points like seats, shopping bags and kids’ showrooms. Premises will be disinfected during closing hours.
This comes as retail outlets will open in Phase 2 of Singapore’s reopening, and IKEA Tampines’ deputy store general manager Keith Oo told reporters on Wednesday that safety remains the priority.
NO MEATBALLS YET
The Alexandra store will open from 10am to 9pm from Sunday to Thursday, and 10am to 11pm on Friday and Saturday. The larger Tampines outlet will open from 11am to 9pm from Sunday to Thursday, and 11am to 11pm on Friday and Saturday.
IKEA will allow one person for every 10 sq m, as per government guidelines. It is not clear what is the maximum number of people each store can hold. Mr Oo said staff will adhere to this using people counting systems.
SafeEntry, wearing of masks and temperature checks will be in place.
IKEA restaurants, bistros and its Swedish food market will only gradually open in the next two weeks, depending on crowd levels and the number of COVID-19 cases in the community.
Mr Oo said IKEA’s fare attracts large crowds and so the store has decided to take a cautionary approach, although he pledged to open it “as soon as we can”.
“It’s such a joy to have that chicken wing or meatball in our store, but we start from an extra vigilant approach to make sure that our customers first of all need to feel safe,” he said.
The children’s play area will also remain closed for their safety.
Mr Oo said IKEA has learnt some lessons from one weekend in April, when long queues formed outside its Alexandra store ahead of the “circuit breaker”.
This includes finding more efficient ways to segment the queue and ensure a smoother flow of customers into the store, he said.
24newsreads.com observed on Wednesday workers laying red cones at IKEA Tampines’ vast car park to create multiple snaking lanes for customers waiting to enter.
“If there’s crowd build up, we have created queue management systems in both stores to manage the expected queues,” Mr Oo added.
“The other contingency that we have is that if potentially there’s a lot more people that will come and try to visit us, then we will probably have to close off our parking in both locations to bring the visitation numbers down.”