Shopping malls fight to keep traffic, protect clients amid coronavirus

Several outlets hire standby healthcare givers, set up quarantine rooms

In Summary

• Two Rivers mall almost empty on Friday and Saturday after state announced first confirmed case of the virus.

• A number of supermarkets remained busy with toilet paper and hand sanitizers being the most sought after items. 

Two Rivers mall in Ruaka
Two Rivers mall in Ruaka

Shopping malls in the Nairobi have rolled out plans to limit coronavirus exposure to visitors and ensure businesses remain afloat.  

This, even as the government asks members of the public to limit unnecessary movement after the country announced the first case of coronavirus on Friday. 

This limited movement has already started affecting traffic to malls as parking lots and children play areas remained empty. Ordinarily, Two Rivers Mall is busy and by midday that shoppers often take many trips around the lot to find a parking spot. 


Most restaurants had a handful of people during lunch hours while playgrounds were almost empty. A few shoppers covered their faces with masks as they moved around. 

"The mall was very busy yesterday (Friday). Today, the numbers are very low. People are avoiding going out," a security guard at the mall said. 

The Thika Road Mall
The Thika Road Mall

In order to encourage traffic to tenants, several malls in the city have come up with drastic measures including hiring standby healthcare givers, setting up quarantine rooms and free checkups to monitor and deal with an emergency.

Hand sanitizer dispensers were mounted at all access points and inside Two Rivers mall and security guards and other workers wore disposable hand gloves. 

"These gloves are to reduce the chances of catching the virus while pushing trolleys or handling the security screening machines. We also shake hands with clients here often so it is important that we take precautions," the guard said.

"But only God who can protect us," he added.

Village Market placed the World Health Organization posters around the complex to educate the public and answer some of the questions regarding the virus. 


It has also ensured an adequate supply of sanitizers at every entry point and requested the presence of nurses around the establishment. 

"We have requested our tenants to take charge of their establishments and make sure staff are sent home to rest if they display signs of coughing, fever or sneezing," Village Market said in a statement. 

Others like Sarit Centre and Westgate in Nairobi's Westlands frequented by expatriates and foreign visitors are now checking travel details of visitors and countries of origin before entry to decide the cause of action. 

A number of supermarkets remained busy with toilet paper and hand sanitizers being the most sought after items. 

In fact, Tuskys at New Muthaiga had run out of hand sanitizers by midday on Saturday while Carrefour allowed shoppers only up to two bottles of the product. 

The confirmation of coronavirus case in the country is a big blow to shopping malls which continue to grapple with low traffic.

Most malls in the city have been forced to cut rent and offer hefty discounts to attract tenants. 

Edited by R.Wamochie