From Stores to Lifts: Are Malls Prepared to Reopen Amid COVID-19?
Wearing masks, thermal screening at the entry, among other things, are now mandatory in the malls.
Video Editor: Vivek Gupta
Which is that one place that people in two-tier and three-tier set ups have really missed going to during the lockdown? The simple answer is – malls. Now, with the reopening of malls from Monday, 8 June, it is imperative to see how prepared the management and shops in these malls are to ensure their customers are safe while the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage on.
The Quint visited two malls in Bengaluru and Lucknow to see what preparations malls are putting in place, altering the conventional shopping experience, as they open after over two months of being shut.
Masks, Thermal Screening Now Mandatory
In Bengaluru’s Koramangala, Thouseef Ahmed Khan, general manager of Forum, said, “We will show you what are the new things we have done to maintain social distancing and to bring the customers a new experience. If you see this green board, it shows this store you can access because number of customers are less and they can accommodate more. In case it is full, they will turn this card into red, that means you will have to wait for your turn and then you can go inside.”
Gajendra Bahadur Singh, senior maintenance manager, Cinepolis Mall, Lucknow, said, “There is a touch-less hand sanitizer dispenser at the entrance that customers can use, they will also go through thermal screening, if their body temperature is over 99.5 degree Celsius, they will not be allowed to enter.”
Singh, meanwhile, also said that at a time only 500 people excluding the store employees will be accommodated. “We will display this digitally on the wall in LED, about how many customers have entered the store,” he added.
Different Markings in Washrooms
Khan of Forum mall said, “In the washroom you will see, one seat marked red and one green alternately. And you will see we have the red board, which means you have to use all the urinals and washrooms that have this sign.”
Markings of 'Don't use’ have been made in toilets. The people will stand in these boxes marked for them to maintain social distancing. These 'Don't use' stickers are to help maintain gaps, and this is present in all gents, female, differently-abled washrooms in all floors,” said Nishant Khare, House keeping executive of Cinepolis mall.
What About Trial Rooms?
Raymond store in-charge Abhishek Srivastava spoke about how they will deal with people using the trial rooms.
He said, “We will let the customers use the trial rooms. But if customers try a product and don’t purchase it, the product will be kept in a quarantine box. Then after 24 hours, we will steam the product and then put on display. And not more than 5 people will be allowed at one time in the store.”
The workers in these stores, including a Body Shop outlet in the mall, said that they will make sure the stores are sanitized weekly along with general dusting and cleaning every day.
Food Court & Contact-Less Dining
The general manager of Forum mall explained the change in seating arrangements in the food court. He showed how there will be subsequent gaps between table for one, two and four in the court.
Khan added, “You don’t have to stand at the counter, there will be a contact-less ordering process where you can sit on the table, place your order, have your food, make all the payments through digital transactions and have a good day.”
As new rules and safety protocols are put into place, visits to the mall will no longer be the same. Much like the customers, shop owners are also anxious about opening their business after so long. Whether customers flock in large numbers to the malls, and whether business picks up remains to be seen.
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