Malls in Gurugram, Faridabad to open from July 1; govt issues SOPs


NEW RULES: Malls to open from 9pm-8am; cinemas, gaming arcades, play areas for kids to stay shut

As per the SOPs, malls can open between 9am and 8pm, but cinema halls, gaming arcades and play areas for children shall continue to remain closed. yogesh kumar/ht file

Kartik Kumar

Gurugram : The Haryana government has allowed malls in Gurugram and Faridabad to reopen from July one, two months after they were shut down to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). The state government had earlier allowed malls to open in the state from June 7, barring Gurugram and Faridabad.

The order was issued by the additional chief secretary of the urban local bodies department, detailing a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the malls, including restricted timings and rules of social distancing.

“The SOPs will serve as a guidelines which have to be complied with. The mandatory points mentioned in the SOPs need to be strictly enforced and followed. Any violation of this may result in penalties or requisite actions being taken against mall owners or management as per law,” said Gurugram (MCG) commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh.

As per the SOPs issued by the directorate of Urban Local Bodies (ULB), malls can open between 9am and 8pm, but cinema halls, gaming arcades and play areas for children shall continue to remain closed.

Social distancing and wearing of masks need to be strictly followed by visitors and all mall workers at all times. Visitors also need to install the Aarogya Setu app. Visitors above the age of 65 and below the age of 10 will not be permitted to visit the malls,” the SOPs state.Mall authorities will have to ensure that every visitor is scanned for temperature via thermal scanners and that hand sanitisers are placed at all entry points, the SOPs state.

The mall authorities have also been directed to prevent large gatherings or congregations and to ensure that all mall employees who are at high risk, such as senior citizens, pregnant women, and those who have underlying medical conditions, are “preferably” not placed in any front-line work requiring direct interaction with the public.

Temperature setting of all air-conditioners should be between 24-30 degrees Celsius, the rules further stated. The SOPs state that use of escalators can be permitted if visitors travel on alternate steps. Valet parking can be operational provided the staff is wearing masks, and gloves, and steering wheels, door handles, car keys are properly disinfected.

The SOPs also lay out guidelines to be followed if someone tests positive, directing that after placing the person in an isolated “room or area”, he or she must be provided with a mask and the owners must immediately inform the closest hospital or clinic, or else “call the state or district helpline”.

“A risk assessment will be undertaken by the designated public health authority...and accordingly further action be initiated regarding management of the case, his/her contacts and need for disinfection,” the new rules say. The premises must be immediately disinfected if a person tests positive.

Regarding shopkeepers and vendors, the new rules state that, apart from ensuring social distancing norms and “preventive measures”, they must ensure “staggering of visitors... to ensure not more than 50% seating capacity at any particular time”. The latter is also applicable for food courts where staff and waiters also have to wear masks and hand gloves. In food courts, seating arrangements must be made while ensuring social distancing, and “contactless mode of ordering and digital modes of payment” encouraged.

The municipalities have been directed to “monitor compliance” of the directions “by undertaking regular visits”, and to check that proper sanitization is done. They have also been given the power to issue challans of ₹500 to visitors “not wearing/using face masks”, and handing five masks to them. “If any violation of the guidelines issued by ministry of health & family welfare, Government of India, is noticed, challans shall be issued against each violation... violations shall be punishable under the provisions of Disaster Management Act, 2005 as well as under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (sic),” the order states.

Shobha Sengupta, president of South Point Condominium Association, which overlooks all maintenance and day-to-day functions at South Point Mall on Golf Course Road, said that the new guidelines will be vital for the association to start preparations for reopening as it provides a checklist on all the requisite safety measures and precautions that need to be undertaken.

“Following the issuance of the SOPs, we have already started disinfecting and sanitising operations to ensure that the mall reopens in the safest possible manner. All the shops have been out of business for more than three months. Hence, we have also simultaneously started procuring all requisite protective gears for our staff and other necessary equipment to ensure shop owners do not lose out on any day of business, and operations can commence from July 1 itself,” said Sengupta. Barring Gurugram and Faridabad district, where cases of coronavirus are the highest in Haryana, the ULB had issued SOPs for malls in all other districts of the state on June 7.

“Although we welcome the reopening of malls, we’ll not be opening our establishment right away. We’ll be monitoring the footfall at the mall for one week and then take a call. We don’t want to be in a situation where our running costs exceed the total earnings,” said Vikram Rana, who is the owner of Vapour Bar Exchange, located at Global Foyer Mall.