Pune: After four-and-half months, the shopping malls reopened in the city on Wednesday; however, the fear of the coronavirus and stringent rules saw them receiving a lukewarm response. Management of various malls in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad area reported a tepid response.
Most grocery shops in the malls commenced from 9 am onwards, whereas the other outlets opened around 11 am. The malls reopened with stringent rules, keeping social distancing and hygiene at the fore.
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Speaking to Sakal Times on the condition of anonymity, a mall authority said, "We had taken a lot of care and safety measures including various practices from abroad like virtual screen scanning, foot sanitisation, television units, etc. We are checking Arogya setu app and letting people in who are having those apps, and most of the staffs were deployed on crowd management, but it didn't help much."
Another staff from mall management said, " We saw a good amount of crowd come between 1 pm to 3 pm. Also, we witnessed good foot-falls post 4 pm."
The reopening of malls was indeed a happy time for youngsters. While many celebrated their reunions with friends, another lot celebrated their successful results in the exams.
"We recently cleared our board examination. We all friends have not met after January and post-examination, there was the lockdown. We stayed connected on virtual chats and social media but meeting your friends physically after six months was special," said Atul, who cleared his SSC this year.
Another girl, who didn't wish to be named, added, "It was difficult for us to convince our parents to let us visit the malls. We also had the fear that police will zero down us and penalise us for moving out so we had to pay extra for pool car services. But we still came. Our parents kept calling us repeatedly to return home early. So, on the one hand, it was fun to meet the friends while another we were in constant fears of authorities and of course, the coronavirus."
Photograph: Prathmesh Ausekar
Edited by Suvajit Mustafi