Shut down trains and local markets, not malls, to curb COVID-19 infections: Malls body

A day after a suggestion was made for shutting down malls in the financial capital by the Mayor, a lobby grouping of such establishments on Friday appealed for the shopping plazas to be allowed to operate normally.

The Shopping Centres Association of India said the malls get only 1 per cent of the floating population and a bulk of people are found in trains and local markets.

The lobby grouping for malls wondered why trains and local markets which attract more crowds are allowed to operate, while retail and restaurants have a limited footfall walking-in have more restrictions.

“Surge in cases started after local trains were allowed in mid-February. There need to be more focus on local markets and trains to control the spread,” it said.

It can be noted that Mumbai mayor Kishori Pednekar had on Thursday hinted at restrictions like halting movement on trains, malls and religious places in order to limit the infections. The plea comes on a day when Pune, one of the biggest cities in the state, has decided to go for a night lockdown from dusk to dawn, and days after the state government banned groups of over five from assembling together in the evenings. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is scheduled to address citizens late on Friday.

The COVID-19 infections are rising by the day in Maharashtra, contributing nearly half of the country’s total in the last few days. Mumbai alone had over 8,000 positive patients on Thursday.

Localised restrictions like antigen testing before entering malls are derailing the recovery of the shopping places in Maharashtra, the association said.

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It has urged the state government to allow shopping centres and malls to operate normally, committing to follow all the safety measures to prevent spread of infections.

The SCAI said malls are perhaps the only public infrastructure establishments which follow all the stringent protocols recommended by authorities for Covid-appropriate behaviour, and have also been conducting the antigen tests in Mumbai.

The statement from the body said it is “unfortunate” that malls have been made a target for restrictions, adding that only 1 per cent of floating populations walks into malls.

The body also invoked the livelihoods argument, stating that the shops and restaurants in malls employ people from economically weaker sections of the society and shutting down this sector will create huge impact on them.

“We urge the state government to consider normalized operations of the shopping centres/malls,” a spokesperson for the association said, adding a representation has been made to the state government.



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