August 5 was a historic day for the nation for various reasons. Kashmir had its own reason to mourn or celebrate. Then there was the Bhumi Pujan of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. But for the traders in Maharashtra, whose livelihood depended on their shops in the malls, the emotion was a sigh, a sigh of relief.
“It doesn’t matter to me if there’s a temple in some state or not. There’s so much going on in the world, so many lives lost, livelihoods snatched. My hopes are pinned on the footfalls on my shop today,” said a shop owner in Pune’s The Pavillion mall on conditions of anonymity.
Once the meet-up, shopping and hangout place for friends and families, after close to five months, the shopping malls finally opened up. Apart from the health risks, the COVID-19 pandemic tore apart the pockets of several traders who incomes depended on the shopping.
The footfalls stayed low due to the stringent guidelines, but the opening of malls did see several youngsters flocking around and meeting their friends. The malls have restricted the entry of children aged below 10 and elders above 60. Even for the employees, who hail from contamination zones are asked to come once a week. Malls are not only monitoring the temperature with the guns but also keeping the close eye on the number of people inside the premises through centralised thermal scanners.
Also read: Pune: Malls reopen to lukewarm response; youngsters celebrate exam results, reunion
Adding to the extra precaution, malls are using osmometer to check the level of oxygen and BP in the visitors’ body. Pavilion mall in Pune’s Senapati Bapat Road has made special provisions in elevators and toilets to go touchless. The entire mall is getting sanitised hourly.
The first-day response was impressive. The process of reopening got started in late June but further delayed the mall authorities has taken every necessary step according to the guidelines by the shopping centre association of India, ensuring the sanitisation standards are world-class and are up to mark as prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Mr Rahil Ajjani, the Centre Head of The Pavilion and Westend malls, spoke to Sakal Times, “Safety of our patrons has always been paramount to us. We have put in place the industry-best practices to ensure safety and hygiene is followed. In this new normal, for the thousands of people who walk into our malls, happiness would mean ‘safety first’, and under this initiative, we will ensure that all our patrons, retailers and staff are welcomed to the premises of the malls which is abiding by all safety and sanitisation measures which have been advised by the local authorities.
“The customers are very cautious about visiting the mall. However, stringent SOPs are in place. We have seen customers being more responsible and cooperative in following the norms. We are expecting a gradual increase in people visiting and shopping at the mall in the coming days.”
We checked Pune’s The Pavillion Mall. Here are the highlights:
- They have SOP’s audited and monitored by an international agency of repute like Bureau Veritas (one of the most prestigious certification organisations in the world)
- Live footfall tracker, which can tell how many people enter and exit the mall and how many are in the mall at any point in time
- DOTPe integration with food court brands when they open, for contactless food ordering and payment
- UV Baggage Sanitising boxes at all entries