NEW DELHI :
Many shopping malls around the county have been preparing for a re-opening, training their staff and getting stricter hygiene controls in place. Developer DLF operates six shopping malls. The era of crowding is over — the new normal is about one person for every 75 sq ft, Pushpa Bector, executive director of DLF Shopping Malls, explained in an interview.
What is the roadmap for re-opening shopping malls?
We had the time to prepare ourselves. The staff is trained. We have developed a series of standard operating procedures for the retailers and the staff. We will allow one person for every 75 sq ft of the mall. We have live footfall data — at any given point in time, we know how many people are inside the property and are exiting. Every hour we will ensure that we are within that norm.
Two, stores will also follow similar controls. In the common areas, we will have a security personnel looking at these aspects. A security head will be roaming the malls with thermal scanners discretely. Unlike in an airport, where checks are in your face, we can’t perpetuate that in a mall because it would perpetuate fear. So we have created systems that are subtle -- but thorough.
Is a disinfection tunnel being put in place at the entry?
We won’t do disinfection tunnels. The chemicals used are harsh and they need to be certified. However, the cars would be surface sanitised before it enters the basement. People would be temperature scanned. Aarogya Setu would be an app we would check on.
Furthermore, we would be launching a new version of our Lukout app — the product is under development (the first version helped consumers discover experiences when they shopped or dined). The new version of the app would have social distancing features. It would tell if there is a congregation further ahead in the mall and give notifications. A consumer can also know before walking into a washroom if it is above the limit of social distancing. We will add a feature of pre-booking. One can get priority access into the property and need not be in a queue.
Are we then looking at queues outside the mall?
We will be prepared for some queuing. We will use the Lukout app to know how many people we are expecting. As we go forward, pre-booking and pre-planning would become a way of life.
Is there any redesign in any part of the malls? What happens to the food court, an area designed to attract volumes?
We have reduced the seats by half. We will encourage takeaways. Even here, we are encouraging contact-less dining where a customer can order through her phone. Besides, there are modifications in the washrooms. Every alternate washbasins and urinals are blocked.
On the demand for renegotiating rentals, has any decision been made?
We will reach out to all our tenant partners before the malls re-open. We will make sure that whatever support we give them is well understood. We had told them that we will do it.
When is the re-opening?
We have been preparing. We had sent out letters to our tenants to sanitise their products last week. Some had come in to sanitise their shops. I would aim at an opening on June 8, though it could get delayed by a day.