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Wuhan virus: CapitaLand closes 6 malls in China as virus spreads

Hand sanitisers are available for tenants, shoppers and guests at CapitaLand properties. (PHOTO: CapitaLand)

SINGAPORE — Singapore’s largest developer CapitaLand, along with other Singapore-listed companies, announced temporary closures of some of the operations in China, as the Wuhan novel coronavirus outbreak continues to spread.

CapitaLand has closed all four of its malls in Wuhan as well as both of its malls in Xi’an, as required by the respective local authorities, it said in a statement on Wednesday (29 January).

Its supermarkets in CapitaMall Westgate in Wuhan and CapitaMall Xindicheng in Xi’an will remain open to ensure the supply of food and daily essentials to the local communities. These six malls will reopen “when local conditions permit”.

Shorter hours in remaining 45 malls in China

Meanwhile, CapitaLand’s remaining 45 malls in cities such as Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Shanghai will continue to operate, albeit with shorter hours. CapitaLand said it will continually review its properties’ operating hours in line with local conditions and regulations.

The Ascott Limited, the wholly-owned lodging unit of CapitaLand, is also helping its guests if they need to extend their stays and waiving cancellation fees for guests who have to change their travel plans.

CapitaLand’s office properties in Shanghai, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Chongqing will be closed until 9 February, as stipulated by local governments.

CapitaLand added that all its properties in China have adopted the necessary precautionary measures, in accordance with guidelines from the health authorities. These include conducting temperature checks at its properties, and intensifying cleaning and disinfecting of common areas. It is also providing hand sanitisers and face masks for tenants, shoppers and guests.

Healthcare fund to assist in fight against outbreak

Its philanthropic arm, CapitaLand Hope Foundation, has set up a 10 million yuan (S$1.96 million) healthcare fund to assist nationwide medical and healthcare related efforts in China's fight against the outbreak. The fund will initially be used to procure medical supplies, protective gears and testing kits for hospitals in Wuhan.

“We have set up a special task force to co-ordinate our response across our operations in China and in the various markets where we operate. To date, the Group’s business operations, including in China and Singapore, remain largely stable,” Lee Chee Koon, group chief executive officer of CapitaLand Group, said.

In Singapore, CapitaLand has implemented precautionary measures in accordance with guidelines from the authorities. Besides stepping up cleaning efforts, hand sanitisers are available for tenants, shoppers and guests in the properties. There are also designated premises with predetermined routes within its properties for the isolation of persons suspected to be infected with nCoV.

At all its construction sites, CapitaLand will take measures according to the advisory issued by the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore. This includes advising main contractors in particular, to adopt practices such as implementing a sickness surveillance process to identify and manage unwell employees as well as to maintain a site attendance record and visitors' contact information for traceability.

CapitaLand has advised employees to defer non-critical travel especially to China and affected countries with known or or suspected cases of the Wuhan virus. Staff who have just returned from China are advised to check their temperature twice a day for 14 days. During the 14-day monitoring period, they are advised to adopt flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting and teleconferencing.

The company said it has in place business continuity plans to enable the Group to continue its critical activities and minimise impact to operations.

Other closures by Singapore-listed companies

Meanwhile, Straco Corp said it has temporarily closed its three attractions in China — Shanghai Ocean Aquarium, Underwater World Xiamen and Lixing Cable Car — to help prevent the spread of the Wuhan virus. The company said it will continue to monitor the financial impact the crisis may have on its financial performance.

Dasin Retail Trust Management also said that the Reit's five retail malls in the Guangdong province have shortened their business hours, except for those outlets providing basic public services such as supermarkets and certain food and beverage outlets. Cinemas, KTVs, ice skating rinks, bookstores and other crowded places within the malls have been temporarily closed.

The company said it will not implement any temporary closure of its malls unless they are asked by the government to do so.

It added that it is difficult to ascertain the full financial impact on the financial performance as the current situation remains uncertain. If the virus can be controlled within a short period of time, it won’t have a significant impact on the financial performance on Dashin Retail Trust.

Earlier on Tuesday, the manager of Sasseur Real Estate Investment Trust said it had temporarily shuttered its four outlet malls in China.

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