Mall owners yesterday urged the Maharashtra government to reopen malls in the state as otherwise there will be heavy job losses by August.
In a letter to Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray, the Shopping Centres Association of India said at least 5mn jobs could be hit if the malls - shut since nearly mid-March due to the Covid-19 pandemic - are not reopened soon.
The SCAI has over 75 malls in the state, with more than 50% in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, 20% in Pune and the rest scattered across other cities, and plans of another 30 new malls are currently on hold.
Due to freeze in revenues because of the lockdown, the entire retail industry is hit hard; they can’t meet routine expenses including the salaries of staff, stocks worth crores of rupees will be damaged even as the industry has piled up losses of over Rs100,000 crore, SCI chairman Amitabh Taneja said.
“We have already taken several measures to maintain safety and hygiene, all Covid precautions,” said Mukesh Kumar, CEO of Infiniti Malls, urging for reopening of the malls.
Taneja said several states have already opened up their malls with stringent precautionary measures in place.
Manoj K Agarwal, CEO of Viviana Malls, said just as other states have expressed confidence in the malls to strictly adhere to corona guidelines for safe shopping, the Masharashtra government too should permit controlled operations for the industry’s survival.
Palladium and High Street Phoenix malls president Rajendra Kalkar said in cities like Bengaluru and Lucknow serious shoppers were coming unlike the times when malls were seen as a hangout destination, and there is increased demand in certain categories like electronics, cosmetics and apparels.
Taneja said that with a cap on visitors, crowd control and strict safety measures in place, a recent survey revealed that malls were the safest places to visit.
SCAI has also recommended its own set of guidelines after the malls are reopened including crowd control by adopting a 75 sqft per person formula, mandatory Aarogya Setu app, single-shift operations with around 30-40% staff, food courts and restaurants seating at 50%, reduced parking, encouraging contactless payments, isolation room facility and availability of oxygen cylinders.
In other developments, the Goa government said the lockdown in the state will end today morning except in the Mormugao sub-district, which is the state’s first containment zone.
The night curfew however will continue in Goa till August 10, the government said in a statement.
A tweet from the state government said that the lockdown in Mormugao - which is home to more than one-third of the state’s 1,425 active Covid-19 cases - will continue till July 24.
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