Customers walk inside a mall after the government eased a lockdown imposed as a preventive measure against the…Read More
NEW DELHI: Business remained lean as malls and shopping centres in the national capital re-opened on Monday after more than two months, with only a few people stepping out to shop and eat.
Though most of the shops, offices and restaurants reopened at Saket‘s Select City Walk, one of the prominent malls in the city, only a handful of shoppers visited it in the initial hours.
The focus remained on the hourly disinfection of the common areas, contact-less shopping and physical distancing to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Staff were seen measuring body temperature and keeping a record of the visitors entering the premises. A contactless sanitiser dispenser and a disinfection tunnel has been installed at the entry gate of the mall.
Most shops pasted stickers on the floor to help visitors maintain physical distancing and the employees wore masks, face shields and gloves.
Announcements were being made, asking people to follow social distancing norms and wear masks all the time.
The staff said only those with the Aarogya Setu application on their mobile phones were being allowed to enter. Children aged below 10 and those aged above 65 were being refused entry.
A spokesperson for Select City Walk, Saket, said, “The shopping centre has introduced subtle changes in design and layout across entrances, public spaces. Crowd control and footfalls will be kept as outlined by the government across the premises, public spaces and retail outlets to ensure that social distancing norms can be followed correctly.”
Sarthak Surya, a Delhi University student, said he stepped out to experience the hustle bustle of malls after remaining mostly indoors at his Malviya Nagar residence.
“Businesses have to open up. Lockdown is not a panacea. People will have to act responsibly and take care of their own. Masks and sanitisers should become part of you. Proper precaution and awareness can keep the infection away,” he said.
Most of the shops and offices at the 3CS Mall in Lajpat Nagar, however, remained shut. Those who reopened shutters after a hiatus of two months said business was lean.
The staff at a popular fast food restaurant said only four people had dropped by in the first three hours.
“Normally, we record around 200 footfalls till lunch. Today, only four people have come so far. People are scared. It will take months for normalcy to return,” one of them said.
At an adjacent apparel store, only a couple was seen shopping for clothes.
“One has to learn to live with coronavirus. Proper precaution and awareness can keep us safe. And, even if one catches the virus, there is no need to be scared. A large number of people have recovered… but it does not mean one can be complacent,” the shopper, Rajeev Garg, said.
“We have been taking the temperature of the visitors and providing them hand sanitiser at the entry gate. Our staff has gone through an extensive screening process and has been maintaining a distance of two feet among them,” an employee of the store said.
The apparel store staff said clothes used for trial purposes were being steam-ironed and disinfected.
There are around 100 big and small shopping malls in the national capital, the source of around ₹500 crore in revenue for the Delhi government, according to Brijesh Goyal, convenor of the ruling Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) trader’s wing.
“Business activity in malls is carried out in a much more organised way as compared to the shops in markets,” he said.
Several malls have set up UV sterilisation chambers for people to disinfect their belongings.
“We had asked our staff to report an hour before the malls were opened for the public. After the mandatory screening, the employees were given face-shields, gloves and sanitiser,” Harsh Vardhan Bansal, director of Vegas Mall in Dwarka, said.
Shops, restaurants and offices were asked to keep their doors open as common surfaces like doorknobs or handles can spread the infection, he added.
The carrying capacity of elevators has been reduced by 25 per cent. Visitors will have to maintain a gap on escalators too, Bansal, who is also the director of Unity 1 malls, said.
Those visiting the mall should wear masks and have the Aarogya Setu application installed on their mobile phones. Pregnant women, children aged below 10 years and persons aged above 65 years will not be allowed entry, he said.
“Contactless sanitiser dispensers have been placed in every corner of the mall. The entire complex will be sanitised twice a day. The common areas will be disinfected on an hourly basis,” Bansal said.
In clothing stores, dummy shirts will be made available for a trial and sanitised after every use, he added.
Manmohan Garg, director of D Mall in Pitampura, said the metal surfaces and common areas of the complex were being disinfected regularly.
Thermal scanners and sanitiser dispensers have been placed at the entry gates and visitors with COVID-19 symptoms are being sent back, he said.
All government guidelines will be strictly followed. Pregnant women and those aged below 10 years and above 65 years will not be allowed entry, Garg added.
Offices are responsible for a regular disinfection of their premises, he said.