Malls in Gurgaon and Faridabad have been permitted to reopen from July 1, three months after they shut, with the Haryana government Sunday releasing SOPs. The directions state that malls can operate between 9 am and 8 pm, but cinema halls, gaming arcades and children’s play areas will be closed for now.
As per the directions, visitors will have to wear “face covers/masks”, ensure social distancing, use Aarogya Setu app. It also stated that people aged above 65 and below 10, those with co-morbidities, and pregnant women will not be allowed. Employees have been told that those at “higher risk” should take “extra precautions”. Owners have to ensure “hand hygiene” and thermal scanning of visitors at entry points. It also directs restaurants and food courts to follow “staggering of visitors” to ensure “not more than 50% of seating capacity” is permitted at any time. Municipalities have been tasked with monitoring compliance.
Owners said they are training staff, installing hand sanitisers, and floor markers for social distancing.
Meanwhile, owners of various businesses in a particular mall have found themselves in a tussle over rent with landlords.
South Point Mall, located on the upscale Golf Course Road and managed by the South Point Condominium Association, has witnessed several businesses having to shut as they couldn’t make rent. While most malls are owned by large companies, South Point Mall is managed by a group of individual investors operating through an association.
The owner of a café and a salon, who did not wish to be named, said while his former business had to be shut on June 20, with the landlord refusing to lower the rent, the other business is also on the verge of closing. He said the landlord is seeking rent even for the three months when the mall was shut. “In my coffee shop, the landlord agreed to waive rent during the lockdown, but did not agree to my request that he lower rent to around 50% of what it used to be. Footfall is expected to drop tremendously even after malls reopen. I had no choice but to close my shop, eight years after I opened it,” said the owner.
The owner of a lifestyle shop, part of an informal group of around 30 tenants facing the same problem, said the rent ranges between Rs 100 to Rs 300 per square foot, depending on the shop’s location: “Unlike many other high street locations, rent is not being slashed here. Footfall is likely to be 5-8% of what it used to be, which means revenue will be low.”
Shobha Sengupta, association president said, “GST has to be submitted, electricity charges to be paid, a certain amount of staff has to be kept, sanitisation has to be done… We have always been careful that our charges should be the lowest possible, and even slashed common area maintenance charges this month. Not charging anything at all is not possible.” On rent, she said, “This is between landlord and tenant. The association has nothing to do with this.”
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