Is It Safe to Return to the Shops?

IMAGE Rustan's

Remember that Thai mall with next-level pandemic measures, including a closet where you can place your shopping bags for a session of virus zapping? It appears that local shopping centers have followed suit with a slew of safety protocols already in place.


In particular, Rustan’s, the hub for all things beautiful, presents a re-tooled shopping experience that emphasizes the safety of both its customers and employees. The 70-year-old company, which shares the measures on social media, covers everything, from entering the store to trying on clothes.




Entry protocols are automatic.


For you, that means stepping on a disinfecting mat, maybe getting a drop of hand sanitizer from the automatic dispenser, and pausing to have your temperature checked via an on-cam scanner (smile with your eyes!). All these are cool because you never touch anything.


Photo by Rustan's.

Its employees follow the same protocols, too, but are asked to change into a fresh set of clothes and shoes. No need to mention that the wearing of masks is mandatory here, but if for some reason you don’t have one (why?), Rustan’s will give you a mask for free.



Everything is sanitized.


Everything is sanitized before and after mall hours, but high-touch areas like door handles are cleaned every two hours. In the backroom, all packaged merchandise is disinfected when they come in.


Photo by Rustan's.

As for clothes fitting (you can still do this), after trying things on, the clothes are deposited in a designated basket for disinfection and the fitting room is wiped down. While there is no virus-zapping closet here, someone will spray down your shopping bags—which works, too.


Distancing is followed everywhere.


This is weird in elevators but we must do it: Only four people are allowed inside a lift and they must stay, facing away from each other, in the four corners. When riding an escalator, you’re asked to stay five steps away from the next person, too. Everywhere else, people are encouraged to stay one meter apart.


Photo by Rustan's.
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When queuing for payment, big blue markers are placed on the floor to ensure distance. And when paying, minimize touch. Contactless payment is now accepted.


Testing is allowed (for some things).


Photo by Rustan's.

Clothes? Yes. Shoes? Yes, too, but Rustan’s will give you socks (will the socks be fresh each time?). Beauty products? Nope. Forget dipping your fingers into creams, serums, and oils. Just research their skin-feel on the Internet.


Should you even be shopping?


There remains a debate of whether we should return to the malls now that everyone, Rustan’s included, has online portals for shopping. Buying through a screen is safer and more convenient as you can do it from home, but shopping in a brick-and-mortar store allows you to inspect the goods before you purchase. There’s also the intangible feel-good effects of being somewhere else apart from your bedroom and getting your hands on your purchases immediately.


As well, Rustan’s is like a second home for many because that’s where Mom would take sweaty kids after school to buy, say, a ceramic bird sculpture and, if they beg enough, a shiny new toy. Now, you can do it again. 



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Clifford Olanday
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