On the first day of re-opening since the lockdown began more than two months ago, malls in the National Capital Region largely remain empty with only a handful of customers turning up.
While in Noida, only a few stores opened on the first day and only staff were allowed, at Select Citywalk in Saket, a majority of stores had opened. However, there were hardly any customers. Regardless, authorities followed an elaborate process before allowing entry inside the malls.
At Citywalk, a disinfectant tunnel was set up at both the front and back gates of the mall and visitors were allowed only after they passed through it, preferably holding their mobile phones in their hand to disinfect it. They were also asked to use a hand sanitiser, and their thermal scanning was done before being allowed inside.
All staff at the mall wore not just masks and gloves but also face shields, and were seen telling even couples to maintain physical distance while walking. Announcements to this effect were also being made periodically. Crosses were marked on escalator steps so that only every third step is occupied.
Stores such as H&M and Crossword bookstore, which require customers to touch the products, said they are taking extra precautions. A salesperson at H&M said while trial of clothes had not been stopped, the products were being sanitised before being put back on shelves.
Similarly at Crossword, Lakshman Singh Chauhan (38), customer care assistant, said books were being sanitised every time someone touched them. However, the bookstore hardly saw any customers through the day. Chauhan, who took a public bus from Faridabad to get to work, too was apprehensive of public places opening: “Since only 20 people are allowed in a bus, I had to wait for 45 minutes today to catch one. The more I stay out, the more dangerous it is.”
While most shops were open, some notable brands such as Pantaloons, Levi’s and Theobroma were shut. Eateries were even emptier than shops. At a Saravana Bhavan outlet, staff said they were serving customers only in disposable plates and cups so as to reduce spread of Covid-19.
At V3S mall in East Delhi, most shops were busy arranging items till late afternoon. The mall, which otherwise remains packed on normal days, also saw very few visitors. A staffer at a shoe store said, “There was hardly any business today… we saw not more than 5-6 customers. On a normal day, there used to be at least a hundred customers.”
At DLF Mall of India in Noida, guards at the entrance checked phones for the Aarogya Setu app. Unlike in Delhi, however, only staff were allowed inside. Similarly at Great India Place, only staff was allowed in.
Assistant Security Officer Manoj Kumar said, “We have been sanitising the floors for the last three-four days, while stores have started sanitising today.”
At Wave Mall in Noida, only a few stores were open.
(With inputs from Abhinav Rajput)
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