A worker cleaning lobby of a mall before its reopening on August 5, at Palladium, in Mumbai on Wednesday.
A worker cleaning lobby of a mall before its reopening on August 5, at Palladium, in Mumbai on Wednesday.

After a lull of four months, malls across the city reopened on Wednesday but most of them appeared like ghost towns. With the Maharashtra government easing lockdown restrictions, shopping malls were allowed to function from August 5. In the island city areas, the malls started operations in a full fledged manner. However malls in the western suburbs have decided to wait till the weekend and open in a calibrated manner.

“We opened the mall with 65% occupancy but due to heavy rains a lot of staff could not reach. We expect the count to reach 80% once the weather improves,” said Rajendra Kalkar, President (West) The Phoenix Mills Ltd. Due to the torrential downpour, the footfalls were less but patrons from Worli, Prabhadevi and Dadar did go to the Phoenix Mall. The malls in Thane are still shut due to the restriction orders of the Thane Municipal Commissioner in view of the Covid crisis. However, malls like Viviana, Thane are ready with all safety and precautionary measures to begin business as usual, said a spokesperson.

“We have opened only a few essential shops and departmental stores. We will open in a full fledged manner from August 7,” said a spokesperson of Infiniti Mall, Malad.

"For a couple of days, we will be setting up sanitation points. We will start from Friday because we expectant decent footfalls during the weekend,” said the spokesperson.

However, visiting a mall will not be the same for Mumbaikars. Patrons will need to go through a number of sanitisation procedures and adhere with the protocols inside the malls.

It is mandatory to wear a mask and have the 'Arogya Setu' app or else access will be denied. At the gates the Setu app will be checked and one will be allowed to enter only if the status is green: 'You are safe'.

Once a visitor enters the mall, he/she will have to pass through an automatic shoe disinfectant, if carrying an umbrella, then one will have to wrap it in an umbrella bag at the entry points.

The bags and the belongings of the visitors will be sanitised as well. Inside the mall placards and sign boards have been erected, asserting the need of wearing masks. Pitches are being marked on the floors of the malls, where visitors are being reminded to maintain safe distance. “Mall authorities have deployed additional staff to ensure people adhere to protocols,” said Ravi Deonar, a mall employee at Inorbit Mall, Malad.

To enter the shops, passengers will have to acquire QR coupons. Outside the shops, visitors will need to stand in a queue. “The QR codes will be like e-tickets. Unless their phone is scanned they won't be allowed to enter,” said Hemant Jadhav, an employer at a popular retail outlet at Infiniti Mall. Each shop will allow limited people to enter at a time. And staffers working in stores which are smaller in size will be asked to wear PPE kits, said Jadhav.

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Free Press Journal