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Home / News / India /  Maharashtra: Malls decide to close after state insists on allowing only fully-jabbed staff

Mumbai: Shopping malls in Maharashtra state on Tuesday decided to close down operations, after the government modified guidelines mandating them to operate with fully-vaccinated staff.

It would take at least a month before a "sizeable number" of staff gets both the doses of vaccine and meets the criteria provided there is no shortage of the jabs, the Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI) said in a statement, reported news agency PTI.

Maharashtra had allowed malls to open up last Wednesday after months of closure to contain the spread of infections. However, the government had asked the malls to operate only with double-vaccinated employees and also admit only fully-vaccinated patrons.

"In light of the modified guidelines issued by the Government of Maharashtra on 16 August 2021, restraining mall staff from returning to workplace unless they are vaccinated with two doses with a gap 14 days after the second dose, it is unfortunate that malls across the state have decided to close down," a statement from the SCAI said. However, there were discussions that the government might relax the rule and permit entry of staff with one single dose of vaccination. 

The statement said since the order last Wednesday, citing the malls' inability to operate, specifying that 80 per cent of the staff had received the first shot of the vaccine and the primary reason for not taking both the doses was supply constraints.

Malls have been shut for over 270 days since the pandemic struck, which has resulted in huge losses and the same will aggravate if urgent steps are not taken to ease restrictions, it said. 

Malls in Maharashtra were allowed to open on 15 August after a long and extended period of closure. Malls were then allowed to operate till 10 pm, albeit at 50% capacity, provided the entire staff is fully vaccinated against covid-19.

However, in a fresh order issued earlier, the state has also asked malls to ensure shoppers have vaccination certificates before being allowed entry.

Malls in Maharashtra were allowed to open on 15 August after a long and extended period of closure. Malls were then allowed to operate till 10 pm, albeit at 50% capacity, provided the entire staff is fully vaccinated against covid-19.

"We would like to urge the Chief Minister to reconsider the applicability of this clause for mall and retail staff and allow malls and retail to open if staff is vaccinated with one dose," it said, adding that a positive decision can help lakhs of people dependent on malls or modern retail trade. 

Meanwhile, Maharashtra on Monday revised guidelines under Break the Chain programme for Corona Restriction and said that those under the age of 18 would be required to show identity cards to establish proof of age for entering malls in the state.

"As immunization of boys and girls under 18 years of age has not yet started in the state, boys and girls under 18 years of age will be required to show their Aadhaar card, PAN card or school and college identity card as proof of age when entering the mall," a release said.

The state government has allowed malls to reopen from August 15, but said that only those fully vaccinated with be given entry.

"All shopping malls in the state are allowed to remain open till 10 pm," it further stated.

Maharashtra reported 4,408 new coronavirus cases and 116 fresh fatalities on Tuesday, while 5,424 patients recovered from the infection, a state health department official. With this, the tally of COVID-19 cases in the state climbed to 64,01,213, while the death toll rose to 1,35,255, he said. 

Significantly, Nandurbar district in North Maharashtra did not report a single active case of coronavirus for the second day in a row. The official said 5,424 patients were discharged from hospitals across the state in the last 24 hours, taking the cumulative number of recovered cases to 62,01,168. Maharashtra now has 61,306 active cases.

With inputs from PTI 

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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