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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Pune: Government guidelines on vaccinated staff, visitors hamper business as city malls see low footfall

After being closed for more than four months, malls in the state were allowed to open but only if they followed strict norms, such as presence of vaccinated staff and only allowing entry of vaccinated visitors.

Written by Parthasarathi Biswas | Pune |
Updated: August 22, 2021 9:12:08 am
Covid-19, Pune malls, covid vaccination, covid-19 restrictions pune, Pune covid-19, Maharshtra government, Indian express, indian express news, Pune newsWhile malls in the city are still waiting for their business to pick up, local restaurants are seeing business get gradually better. (Express photo by Narendra Vaskar/Representational)

Weeks after they were finally allowed to reopen for business, malls in Pune have reported just a fraction of their normal business. Maharashtra government’s norms allowing only fully vaccinated individuals to enter malls has kept many regular shoppers away. Retail associations have now pinned their hopes on the pace of vaccination picking up in September, and their business gradually returning to normal.

After being closed for more than four months, malls in the state were allowed to open but only if they followed strict norms, such as presence of vaccinated staff and only allowing entry of vaccinated visitors.

Surjit Singh Rajpurohit, chief operations officer of Amonora Mall, said such stringent norms ruled out a large section of their regular clientele. Currently, the footfall was only 15 per cent of normal, he said, adding, “Only about 50 per cent of the staff is vaccinated so there is a shortfall there too.”

Most of the restaurants and eateries in the malls are also reporting very low business, and chances of quick revival are bleak, said Rajpurohit.

However, he pointed out that the rate of vaccination was picking up and by the end of August, most of the mall staff would be fully vaccinated. “Most mall employees are in the 18-30 age group so their vaccination started late. But we are hopeful that their vaccination will pick up pace in the days to come,” he said.

The retail industry is also hopeful that by mid-September, it would see a larger section of young people getting their double vaccine doses and being allowed to enter malls. “By December, we hope business will pick up substantially,” said Rajpurohit.

While malls in the city are still waiting for their business to pick up, local restaurants are seeing business get gradually better.

Ganesh Shetty, president of Pune Restaurants and Hoteliers Association, said they have reached around 30 per cent of their normal business. Almost 95 per cent of staff in the hotel industry is fully vaccinated.

“We are following all safety precautions laid down by the government,” said Shetty.

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