Home / Industry / Retail /  Delay in reopening malls a big blow to businesses, employment: RAI

MUMBAI: Malls in Maharashtra have remained shut even as the state government has relaxed lockdown curbs for 25 districts, including Mumbai, allowing shops and establishments to operate till late in the evening.

“All other states in the country except Maharashtra have allowed malls to open along with other formats of retail. Malls in Maharashtra have been continuously giving assurances about following the required SOPs and structured processes to ensure social distancing and safety of shoppers," said Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India (RAI), adding that, permitting malls to operate will save of livelihoods of lakhs that a mall's ecosystem supports.

RAI said malls have been diligently following all standard operating procedures (SOPs) on preventive measures issued by the health ministry to ensure safety of staff and citizens. Malls associated with RAI have also been adhering to detailed and comprehensive SOPs formulated by the association to curb the spread of the virus. These SOPs are based on guidelines endorsed by the Indian Medical Association.

"There is a misconception that being air-conditioned spaces, malls could exacerbate the pandemic situation. There is no medical guideline or evidence that prohibits the use of air conditioners in view of the virus," RAI said.

The association explained that the belief that the virus can spread only through air-conditioned malls and not in any other closed airconditioned establishments or airlines is not logical. In an office memorandum issued last year, in the wake of the pandemic, the government had provided clear guidelines on the usage of centralised air conditioners in malls.

RAI said malls and shopping centres are important centres of economy activity. Malls in the state generate business worth Rs40,000 crore and contribute Rs4,000 crore to GST, per month.

The prolonged closures have had an impact on more than 2 lakh people employed in about 50 malls in the state, and also on businesses associated with malls. On an average, a mall has 200 retail stores operating in it and over 5000 businesses entities associated with it as suppliers and vendors. Restarting malls along with other markets is critical to ensuring the survival of this ecosystem.

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