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Malls reopen after five weeks, see few customers

Malls in the city reopened on Monday after nearly five weeks with few customers patronising their outlets due to apprehensions over Covid-19 spread
By Kartik Kumar, Gurugram
UPDATED ON MAY 31, 2021 11:15 PM IST

Malls in the city reopened on Monday after nearly five weeks with few customers patronising their outlets due to apprehensions over Covid-19 spread.

On Sunday, the district administration issued an order permitting the reopening of malls between 10am and 6pm, on the condition that they develop an app to regulate the footfall and ensure that occupancy did not exceed one person per 25 square feet. The district administration had ordered the closure of malls on April 24 due to a rapid surge in cases.

The footfall cap, however, did not have an impact on malls on the first day. The associations of both South Point Mall and Metropolitan Mall said that they had fewer than 50 visitors, each, throughout the day.

“We had around 30 visitors to the malls on the first day. Several shops closed a few hours after opening, citing a lack of customers. After the second coronavirus wave, we are anticipating that people will take a few weeks to regain confidence and put trust in safety norms being adopted outdoors,” said Shobha Sengupta, the president of South Point Condominium Association, which oversees all maintenance and day-to-day functioning at South Point Mall on Golf Course Road.

Sengupta said that as per the administration’s order of ensuring one person per 25 square feet, nearly 11,000 people can be accommodated inside the mall at a given time.

“The administration’s order allows us to have a large number of visitors, but we are not anticipating such a high magnitude of footfall in June. Regardless, we are in the process of developing an app as mandated by the administration to regulate footfall and a meeting in this regard took place on Monday evening,” said Sengupta.

Aman Bajaj, a member of MGF Metropolitan Mall Association, said that the mall on Mehrauli-Gurgaon (MG) Road received fewer than 50 visitors on the first day.

“Last year, when we reopened in July after a gap of three months, we virtually had no business for the first 10-14 days. We are anticipating it will be a similar scenario this time around as well. Most people are still unaware that the malls in Gurugram have reopened. Once it becomes common knowledge, customers will start visiting malls and businesses will pick up,” said Bajaj.

Bajaj said that to ensure safety regulations are adopted, the association has closed all entry and exit points in the mall, barring one, to keep track of the total number of visitors entering and exiting.

“We have taken this step to keep a record on the total number of visitors inside the mall at any given time. As mandated by the administration, the mall management is in the process of developing an app to regulate visitors. In the interim, we will continue to have only one entry and exit point to ensure norms are being followed,” said Bajaj.

Both association members said that the idea of developing an internal app is unfamiliar to them and they are trying to work out the best way ahead.

“Our representatives spoke to officials of the district administration regarding the app and they have given our management ample time to develop it, and in the interim, ensure there is no crowding and social distancing is maintained. Developing an app is a completely unfamiliar territory and it will take us time to figure the best way to achieve it,” said Bajaj.

While the malls on Golf Course Road and MG Road appeared deserted, the same was not the case in Ambience Mall, which received a higher footfall of visitors on Monday.

“Most shops reopened in the mall on Monday. Only a few did not open as they are in the process of upgrading their safety measures, which is likely to be completed by the end of this week,” an official representative of Ambience Private Limited said.

The representative further said that Ambience Mall had developed an app last year for the possibility of using it to regulate the entry of visitors.

“We already have an in-built app which can be used for regulating visitors, as mandated by the administration. We have been informing visitors about its existence and giving them a week to get themselves accustomed to this guideline. From next week onwards we will make it mandatory that a person can only enter the mall premises provided they have downloaded the app,” said the representative, adding that the app will work similarly to the central government’s Aarogya Setu App, which allows entry to various public places, only if the app is downloaded.

The representative said that the app will also help the mall management keep a real-time update on the number of people inside the mall at any given time and ensure there is no crowding.

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