Westfield details reopening plans

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield has announced plans to re-open its flagship London centres when the government advises it is safe to do so.

Across Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City - Europe’s two largest shopping centres - the group explained the phased return of up to 30,000 people back to work.

Although it has not yet been confirmed which shops can reopen in June, Westfield centres have laid out plans to integrate all health and safety measures outlined in the Safer Public Places document published by government.

Scott Parsons, Westfield’s regional managing director for the UK, 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.

"As well as heightened hygiene measures across every touch point, we have technology to monitor footfall and flows and ensure social distancing is practiced, as well as the benefit of onsite security and guest services teams to carefully control the measures at all times."

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, socially distanced queuing systems and floor spacing, cashless car parks and social distancing parking.

This is bolstered by technology and manpower to ensure all guidelines are adhered to, with the measures carefully controlled in both centres. Specifically, these measures include:

• Heightened hygiene and deep cleaning of all public spaces and readily available 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, whilst managing the in-centre traffic including one-way systems where required;
• A security and guest services teams in place to manage queuing systems, as well as direct communications with every retailer to collaboratively manage flows and numbers;
• Use of indoor and outdoor screens to display key communication messages and floor stickers to de-mark social distancing spaces;
• Cashless car parks with social distancing parking as well as large numbers of bike racks and Barclay bike stations.

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield also said it would welcome additional support on a retailer rent support scheme as well as extending the business rates holiday to vacant units – both those that were vacant before the crisis set in, and those that will never reopen as a result.

The group said it is committed to working with industry bodies such as Revo and BPF and government directly, to give the retail industry the best chance to recover.

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield's senior management team and supervisory board have taken the initiative to reduce their remuneration by a quarter for the period during which the partial activity measures have been in place for the group. The unpaid remuneration will be donated to support efforts to fight the COVID-19 crisis in all countries in which it operates.

Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City have been substantially shut during lockdown, although pharmacies and supermarkets have remained open, to ensure the community can still access essential food and supplies.

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