Its been almost five months since we said goodbye to our normal lives. Be it travelling to work, running errands or shopping; everything seems like an occasional luxury. The pandemic has not only changed the way we live, but also the way businesses work all around the world. Just as we now adorn masks and follow social distancing wherever we go, so does every business adapt to the new normal.
Right from the smallest start-up to big commercial setups, the norms of operations have changed majorly. But as the country slowly begins to return to normalcy, businesses have been now working towards making their operations accommodative of the new normal.
The Maharashtra Government recently permitted malls to open from August 5 and malls around the city are gearing up to welcome customers back to their shopping havens.
But with COVID-19, a lot has changed in the way the malls function. With footwear sanitisation mats, automatic sanitiser dispensers and the thermal camera's making it the top of the list; malls are also making additional changes to their function to be adept with the most effective to battle the virus.
Sakal Times spoke to Arun Arora, the Center Director for Phoenix Marketcity, Pune, about the changes being brought in the mall operations.
Sharing his insights, Arora said, "We have also come up with new initiatives wherein if people want their delivery at home, it can be made possible through an app. The customers can register, and accordingly, the retailer will send their purchases home."
Talking about the precautions taken at the mall, Arora said, "We have also added a few new systems UV baggage scanner. The bags would go into the UV lamps, and once it is disinfected.
"Similarly, every retailer be is footwear, cosmetics or apparel, they have their own SOPs to follow. The staff has been trained. All these provisions have been made available across the entire mall."
Here are details on what to expect when entering a mall
Going forward, malls will strictly monitor the number of people walking in, and the limit will be decided based on the size of the mall. It is important to wear a mask and sanitise your hands at the entrance along with a thermal check. It is also mandatory to install Aarogya Setu app on your phones to enter the mall. Footwear sanitisers and hand sanitisers will also be installed the entrance to ensure proper sanitisation.
Adding to this, in an effort to ensure social distancing, markings have been made outside malls and stores to guide people to maintain distance. Adding to the regular bag scanners, malls will now sport a UV scanner and a sanitation spray for all customers to ensure safety and sanitation.
The malls have also changed the parking fees to a digital base to reduce chances of contact.
Complying with the precautions of living in a co-corona world, the stores have been directed to allow only a specific number of people inside the store, at any given time. This number is based on the size of the store. Markings have been made outside the store to guide people to wait for their turn. The stores have also been directed to monitor temperatures and provide sanitisers at the entrance.
Considering the highly infectious nature of the virus, trial rooms will not be permitted in most stores. Instead, stores will now offer a limited period of exchange offers on clothes. The returned clothes will be kept in quarantine for 2-3 days before going on the shelf again. For cosmetic stores, trials and make-over will not be allowed, and people are only expected to shop.
All over the mall, digital payments will be encouraged to ensure minimum contact and convenience.
In an effort to control interaction in high contact areas such as washrooms, elevators and escalators, a limited number of people will be allowed at any given times. Mall staff is also made responsible for ensuring people do not overcrowd specific areas and maintain distance at all times.
The capacity for washrooms has been reduced considerably, allowing only a few to use the service at a certain time. The capacity of the elevators has been reduced from eight to three people. The mall staff and customers are expected to wear masks at all times and also expected to maintain distance.
Restaurants, Theatres and Fun zones
Currently, as per the government guidelines, restaurants have been directed to remain shut, and no dine-in option is available to mall-goers. Along with that theatres and activity zones have also been directed to stay shut and no entertainment activity is permitted in the malls.