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Home / Industry / Retail /  Ahead of D-day, malls, retailers say safety first

Malls are set to open on 8 June, subject to state approvals, with a detailed set of rules, including temperature screenings, social distancing in stores and common areas, and minimizing crowds at high-touch points such as elevators and escalators, in what developers said will be the “new normal" as businesses resume operations.

Now, negotiations are on to draft new rental agreements, as retailers, who were hit hard during the two-month lockdown, not willing to pay pre-covid rentals. “From tomorrow we should see dialogues starting with all retailers, we are not holding back on any opening because of it. We will figure it out," said Abhishek Bansal, executive director, Pacific Mall, which has three shopping centres in Delhi-NCR. The firm will take a call based on the tenant profile.

“Cinemas will still remain shut and with restaurants opening in limited capacity, we will see how every business opens up and how consumers behave." Bansal expects footfall to be down by over 50%, as the key mode of public transport, Delhi Metro, will not operate for the foreseeable future.

Virtuous Retail, which holds a portfolio of malls across south and north India, is readying its properties, where it hopes state governments will give permission. Work on sanitization is going on, said Pankaj Renjhen, chief operating officer, Virtuous Retail, which will deploy “social distancing" managers on every floor to help customers follow rules. “We will have temperature checks at all entry points and for every one."

“All those working at the mall and with retailers will have to log their history of travel and illness. There will be masks and gloves for everyone on the floor. We will also ensure that shops sanitize all customer touch points," he added. Malls and restaurants were among the first to suspend operations as India moved to contain the spread of covid-19 in March.

Over 650 malls and shopping centres were impacted by the lockdown, apart from several small shopping centres, as per Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI).

“Revival and resurgence is a long process that has just begun. We will await further information from the ministry to ensure that the guidelines are followed in letter and spirit," Amitabh Taneja, chairman, SCAI, said on Saturday after the ministry of home affairs announced the “Unlock 1" guidelines for the country. States like Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have extended the lockdown till end of June, malls will continue to remain shut.

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