Mumbai, Jul 19 (IANS): Warning of heavy job-losses by August, the Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI) has urged the Maharashtra government on Sunday to urgently consider reopening the malls in the state.
In a memorandum to Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray, the SCAI said at least five million (50 lakhs) jobs could be hit if the malls - shut since nearly mid-March due to the Covid-19 pandemic - are not reopened soon.
The SCAI has over 75 malls in the state, with more than 50 percent in Mumbai Metropolitan Region, besides 20 percent in Pune and the rest scattered across other cities, and plans of another 30 new malls are currently on hold.
Due to freeze in revenues in lockdown, the entire retail industry is hit hard, they can't meet routine expenses and salaries of staff, stocks worth crores of rupees will be damaged even as the industry has piled up losses of over Rs 100,000-crore, said SCI Chairman Amitabh Taneja.
"We have already taken several measures to maintain safety and hygiene, all Covid precautions," said Mukesh Kumar, SCAI's SOP Committee Chairman and CEO of Infiniti Malls, urging for reopening of the malls.
Taneja said several states have already opened up their 500 malls since June 8 with stringent SOPs implemented, including Delhi, Gurugram, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Bhopal Agartala, Siliguri, Raiganj, Indore, Cuttack, etc.
CEO of Viviana Malls Manoj K. Agarwal just as other states have expressed confidence in the malls to strictly adhere to Corona guidelines for safe shopping the state government should also permit controlled operations for the industry's survival.
Palladium and High Street Phoenix malls President (West) Rajendra Kalkar said in Bangalore, Lucknow and Bareilly, serious shoppers are coming unlike the times when malls were seen as a hangout destination, and there is increased demand in certain categories like electronics, cosmetics, apparels, etc.
Taneja said that after the capping of visitors, crowd control and strict safety measures implemented, a recent quick survey revealed that malls are the safest places to visit.
SCAI has also recommended its own set of guidelines to Aditya Thackeray after malls are reopened including crowd control by adopting a 75 sq ft per person formula, mandatory Aarogya Setu app, single-shift operations with around 30-40 percent staff, food courts and restaurants seating at 50 per cent, reduced parking, encouraging contactless payments, isolation room facility, availability of oxygen cylinders, etc.