Mumbai Malls open: R-City Mall in east suburbs most well-prepared for Unlock 3.0
The Ghatkopar mall introduces changes adapting to suit the pandemic-affected world, reopens with utmost precautions
Welcome to a brave new world! After four months of lockdown, the opening of malls saw mixed reaction on Day 1, with a large number of people visiting it, but not necessarily shopping. Unlike the western suburb that has a seafront, the eastern suburb has limited publuc recreation amenities and the biggest of malls here have always been an attraction. While today’s figure was almost 2,000 plus people, the average footfall pre-Covid-19 at this place has been 25,000.
The 12 lakh square feet RCity Mall in eastern suburbs, one of the largest ones, could be one of the best prepared ones to face the post-pandemic situation! Mid-Day did a walk through to the entire process of this mall which seems one of the sturdiest with meticulous detailing in eastern suburbs.
Alternate washbasins sealed to maintain social distancing
All those willing to visit need to book online on the RCity website that now has a temporary webpage for opening services in these difficult days, which requires basic details like number of people, age, car details and time-slot. The day from 10 to 7 is divided into a number of time-slots. Once that is done, a QR code is sent to the person, which will be mandatory for entry. Those who dont follow this, will have to stand outside and get it done and only those with QR codes will be allowed inside. "This will help us to know the exact amount of people coming in and going out. A pre-booking gives us an idea of the numbers we will have to cope with. There is a per hour slot. Maximum people that can be in the mall at given time should not exceed 20 thousand," says Santush Kumar Pandde, head of operations at the mall.
The parking protocols called for QR scanners and before entry the vehicle tyres are disinfected at all levels before getting a parking space. Once at the gate one needs to follow social distancing and scanning of QR code is done, followed by checking of Aarogya Setu App and other mandatory guidelines. A large touch-less sensor-based sanitiser dispensing machine at the gate has been placed, followed by huge towers of thermal cameras, which allow people to walk through undisturbed as their temperature gets recorded. "We are not pointing guns at the customers. They are walking in seamlessly as they enter as we have powetful thermal cameras that scan every individual for temperature. It helps us segregate only those who have high temperatures etc," he added.
Markings for people to wait in elevator queue maintaining social distancing
This is followed by regular x-ray scanners without physical frisking. The bag scanners have now been equipped with UV lights to disinfect the bags. The entire process takes about a minute or so since there is limited and controlled crowd, says his colleague Mayur Hazarika. The mall now has restricted timings and shuts at 7pm as compared to 9:30pm earlier.
Overall inside picture
Once inside on Day 1 there were below 50 pc shops open. Some had opened partially so as to prepare for the protocols. "Though the individual shops have their respective responsibility, we have issued a standard operating protocol for all shops and they need to fulfill all those parametres to get eligible to remain open," says Hazarika, adding that many shops that you see partially open today are gearing up to fulfill those SoPs to meet all the parameters, since it is Day 1."
Shops and food
Every shop inside had their own santiser dispensers before entry and on exit. Food courts were shut, but an app allows you to understand which outets are open for take-away food parcels, though there were no takers on Day 1. While shops that were open did some business, those working inside sighed a heave of relief. "It really feels good to be back after a four-month lockdown. It was scary, but now once back here, it feels good. There have not been many customers, but we are still setting things. Also today, it has been raining, but we are expecting good crowds on the weekends," Asma, a customer executive at a cosmetics' shop said. "It will take time to open up properly, but a beginning has to be made and this is the best thing to happen," said another executive Arjun Mishra. Many stalls even had made hand gloves compulsorily
The difficult parts -- trial room, toilets & lifts
While moving around in the spacious malls had all social distancing protocols in place, the difficult portions of the mall like trial rooms, public toilets and lifts needed some extra precautions.
When Mid-Day examined these, we found that the public toilets were manned and every alternate urinal blocks and wsh basins were blocked. The entry exits were also wide enough. "The trial rooms are being sanitised after each use and clothes steam ironed. We are leaving no chances for any possible contamination anywhere, another executive said. The lifts had been manned for monitoring and there were circled stickers put up at distance with a limit to only five persons per lift.
The attention spots
The attention spots, besides these difficult spots, were the clothes, mannequins, shopping cart handles, escalator railings and all touch areas. "We have been asked to keep on cleaning continuoulsy these spots so that there is minimal contamination. Its a challenge, but we are not leaving out any surfaces," Kumar, a house-keeping executive said.
People shopping cycles, dumbells!
A lot of people who came to the mall on Day 1 visited a prominent sports chain that opened on Day 1 and a number of people were spotted buying bicycles and exercise equipment like dumbells etc. "The lockdown seems to have made people more health conscious and there have been positive sales of bicycles and exercise equipment," a counter executive said.
Venkatesh Kumar, who drove down to the mall with his two children said, "We were waiting for this opportunity. The kids had got bored staying inside and they will at least spend some good time here. We were pleased with the kind of preparations done here." All masked and raring to go, the first shop the kids and family headed were the multi-store shop chain.
Rima Shah and her husband were passing by on the bike when they spotted the mall open and entered. "It has been a great day to see this open. We can at least come down here and shop safely with all protocols in place. We did not buy anything but the overall experience of a walkthrough was very nice and assuring," she said enthusiastically.
Number of visitors on Day 1
10am to 7pm 2000 plus.
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