Day 1: Mumbai malls reopen to poor response
While restaurants and malls reopened to extended timings till 10pm from Sunday, the condition that staff and visitors have to be fully vaccinated led to poor response on Day One.
Malls have reopened for the first time after a gap of four months post the lockdown announced on April 4. Mall owners said as a majority of their visitors are in the 18-45 age group, very few are fully vaccinated, leading to low footfall. They said the turnout was only 10-15% compared to pre-Covid times. Restaurants and bars, too, saw poor turnout as Sunday was a dry day on account of Independence Day.
Sachin Dhanawade, chief operating officer (COO) retail & real estate, Grauer & Weil (India) Limited, which operates Growel’s 1O1 Mall in Kandivli, said, “The footfall was 5% of the usual footfall before the pandemic. Fully vaccinated customers were happy to shop in a safe and sanitised environment. However, many customers who are not fully vaccinated had to be turned away. We are hopeful that citizens who have got their first dose of the vaccine will be allowed soon.”
Gurvineet Singh, CEO of Viviana Mall in Thane, said, “We welcome the move of the government to allow us to trade on Independence Day. However, the permission has come with riders due to which the business is going to be hit. Statistically, there are very few citizens in the 18-45 age group, our main clientele, owing to the minimum gap of 84 days. Also, the first drive for this age group began only in June. Lakhs of citizens are directly or indirectly dependent on the economic activity at malls across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.”
In a statement, Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI) said the government needs to reconsider its decision. “Malls have been opened as per the government order. Given the restrictions on customer entry, footfall has been extremely low: 10-15% of pre-Covid levels. We have had instances where customers with a single jab were disappointed at being denied entry into malls. The government needs to reconsider this stance and allow customers with a jab to visit malls.”
Viraj Mamania, a resident of Borivli, said, “I was denied entry inside the mall in Kandivli considering I am not fully vaccinated.”
Pradeep Shetty, senior vice-president at Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI), said, “We have appealed to the civic body and also the state that the condition of fully vaccinated staff for operating up to 10pm should be relaxed to at least one dose. We understand that it is our responsibility to get our staff vaccinated, but there is a gap of 84 days between two doses.”
Shetty added, “Considering Sunday was the first day, the visits were fewer, but they will pick up considering the festive season and inquiries.”