Malls to be shut across Maharashtra; supermarkets flooded as customers stock up

Updated: Mar 15, 2020, 07:49 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

Theatres, gyms stay shut, and restaurants bear the brunt as masses shack up at home.

Andheri's Infinity Mall saw low footfall as theatres were shut. Pic/Satej Shinde
Andheri's Infinity Mall saw low footfall as theatres were shut. Pic/Satej Shinde

Despite the Maharashtra government on Friday having declared the coronavirus as an epidemic across Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad, most of the malls and theatres seemed to be functioning as per normal rules and guidelines—with a few exceptions. Food courts and retail stores inside the malls barely reported any customers, while grocery supermarkets saw an increased footfall. It was not as if people were hoarding supplies, but were buying everything from cooking oil and toilet paper to chips and chocolates. Health minister Rajesh Tope has announced that malls across the state will be closed from today.

Most theatres in the Western suburbs cancelled all shows post 2.30 pm. The PVR at Citi Mall was one of the only theatres to keep their show timings open. They were also one of the few theatres to have online bookings available. Private gymkhanas shut down their swimming pool(s) and gyms. Individual stand-alone gyms and dance classes have been called off.

Bandra Bandstand on Saturday. Pic/Atul Kamble
Bandra Bandstand on Saturday. Pic/Atul Kamble

Malls on as usual
Malls were functioning as per normal routine. The only thing out of the ordinary was the sight of visitors wearing masks. Security staff at the gates were wearing yellow gloves and masks as a precautionary measure. Bottles of hand sanitisers were also kept at the entrance of most malls.

At Citi Mall in Andheri, people were being allowed inside the mall. Most of the retail shops were open for business, but the few food joints located inside as well as outside the compound, lay bare.

Dhaval Shah, Lokhandwala resident
Dhaval Shah, Lokhandwala resident

The number of people inside Infinity mall in Andheri were low, as compared to another Saturday afternoon. Retail stores such Nike, Westside and Pantaloons did not have any customers.

Footfall was also low at Juhu's DB Mall, with most people seen wearing masks.

Theatres cancel shows
Majority of the multiplexes located inside malls had cancelled their shows post 2.30 pm. At PVR Icon Cinemas in Versova, the ticket counter was empty. The masked attendants who sat behind the counter said that the last show was for 2.10 pm, and that all shows post that, had been cancelled.

No workouts
Standalone gyms and dance studios in the Western suburbs were closed. At Reclamation Club in Andheri-Lokhandwala, a message was sent out to members on Friday stating that the swimming pool and gymnasium would be closed "as per the order passed by the Maharashtra government."

It's time to stock up
The most heavily visited places were grocery supermarkets located inside malls. It was business as usual at Food Bazaar, located on the first floor of Infinity Mall. All attendants, security guards and cashiers wore masks. Although people were calm while shopping, there was an increase in the pace and intensity of buying supplies. While some customers wore masks, others had their dupattas covering their mouth and nose. At Star Bazaar located on the ground floor of Crystal Mall at Andheri West, there was a queue of eight persons outside the entrance due to a shortage of trolleys. People were seen shopping for supplies including soaps, cosmetics, food, snacks, chips, cooking oil, and
detergent.

Dhaval Shah, a resident of Lokhandwala, said: "I have not visited the supermarket or grocery stores located in malls but have called for a home delivery from the local provision store as supermarkets are overcrowded and there is a fear of contracting the disease."

Rahul Remedios, a resident of Juhu, said, "We have visited a supermarket to buy products like hand sanitisers, Dettol and other disinfectants, but we have not visited a mall. There is no real stocking up. It's only about buying whatever is necessary given the current environment."

Food courts lay empty
The food court located on the top floor of Inifinity Mall was filled to less than half of its capacity. Pop Tate's in Versova and the Starbucks in Juhu barely had any customers as well.

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