Stricter measures for Turkey’s malls introduced
Aysel Alp- ISTANBUL
Authorities in Istanbul have introduced stricter measures, particularly for the use of air conditioners and shopper traffic inside the venues, for the city’s malls after people swarmed shopping centers and social distancing rules were largely violated after they reopened on May 11 as part of the “normalization program.”
The city hygiene assembly was convened on May 13, chaired by deputy governor Cemalettin Özdemir, to discuss additional steps to be taken in the malls.
Accordingly, people will not be allowed to enter and exit the venues at the same time through the same gate to prevent close interaction between the leaving and arriving visitors.
Air conditioning will not be used but only central ventilation systems will operate to let fresh air flow into the venues.
Ventilation systems will not use the air already circulating inside the malls.
Restaurants in the shopping centers will provide take-away service and people are required to stand at least one meter apart from each other when they get in line to collect their order.
Elevators will be reserved for those with special needs only. The shopping centers and stores inside those venues will serve only a limited and certain number of costumers at a time.
The district governors’ offices will inspect whether the shopping centers are abiding by the regulation imposed. A commission of five people, including a public health expert and a mechanical engineer, will visit the malls at least once a week in each of the city’s districts.
Those who violate the rules will be fined and if the violation continues legal actions may be taken against them. An individual will face up to a 3,100 Turkish Lira fine (around $450) and the fines for businesses will be higher as they will be calculated based on their revenue.
The decision and regulations taken by the Istanbul Hygiene Assembly will be implemented in all shopping centers across the country, said Hüseyin Altaş, the head of the Shopping Center Investors Association.
He conceded that the fines for businesses, who violate the rules will be hefty. “We all heed the rules,” he said.
When asked how the new regulations, which ban the use of air conditioning, will affect people inside the shopping centers, he responded, “People should not spend too much time inside, they will need to do their shopping and leave immediately.”
The Interior Ministry issued a circular saying that shopping centers, barber shops, hair salons, open marketplaces and public transport vehicles, including taxis and intercity buses, will be inspected on May 15 to see whether measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are properly implemented.
The inspections will be carried out in 81 provinces by the teams, which are set up by the governor and district governors’ offices.