Low footfall marks reopening of malls, hotels in Telangana

Hyderabad, June 8 (IANS) Shopping malls, hotels and restaurants re-opened in Telangana on Monday but with low footfall as people stayed away amid increasing number of Covid-19 cases.

Even the places of worship, which re-opened after 80 days, saw thin turnout with devotees preferring caution.

The footfall in malls was low and so also in hotels and restaurants, mainly due to fear prevailing among people in view of the rising number of Covid-19 cases.

There was a clear lack of enthusiasm as few shoppers turned out at the sprawling malls on their re-opening in Hyderabad. The response was reflective of the general mood among people, who remain apprehensive over stepping out.

The surge in number of Covid-19 cases and the fatalities in Telangana over the last one week may be the cause for poor response to the re-opening of malls and restaurants.

With 206 new cases on Saturday and 14 deaths on Sunday, the state reported the highest-ever single-day figures.

A shop owner at a leading shopping mall in Banjara Hills pointed out that the reports of the spread of the virus have scared people. With Hyderabad continuing to account for the majority of the cases, people are thinking twice before stepping out.

“The current situation is not at all suitable for a shopping experience which shoppers look for at the malls. The families and friends go around the mall shopping, dining and watching movies. With the multiplexes remaining closed and people reluctant to eat out, we may not see an increase in footfall for a few more weeks,” another shop owner said.

The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) prescribed by the government prohibited loitering in malls and also trying on clothing and accessories at shops.

With the night curfew still in force and normalcy yet to be completely restored, the malls may not immediately see revival of shopping activity. Standalone shops opened for last two three continue to see a drop in sales.

However, Forum Sujana Mall at Kukatpally claimed that it experienced encouraging footfalls.

The mall followed strict measures like restricting entries to safe permissible numbers, maintaining strict fever screenings, installing a full-body sanitisation tunnel and contactless sanitisation booths.

Safety indication on Arogya Setu app, wearing of masks, sanitisation and social distancing while entering the mall was mandatory. Contactless ordering and billing service, maintaining safe distance between tables and a separate family section provided a safe dining experience for customers at the food court.

The hotels and restaurants, which re-opened on Monday, also saw few customers. Though the managements put in place all measures to ensure strict adherence to SOP prescribed by the government to ensure social distancing, the hotels saw hardly any business. Some hotels have been offering take-away service for the last few days and people still prefer to eat at home or take-away food than to dine in hotels and restaurants.

The restaurants were asked to encourage take-aways. As per the SOP, not more than 50 per cent of seating capacity shall be permitted and disposable menus are to be used. The management were advised to use disposable paper napkins, and buffet service should follow social distancing rules.

SOP also prescribed that waiters and other staff should wear masks and gloves. Contactless mode of ordering and digital payment is to be encouraged. Furniture is to be sanitised each time a customer leaves while kitchens should be sanitised frequently.

Even the places of worship had thin turnout of devotees on the first day of their re-opening. The turnout was low in the places of worship in Greater Hyderabad, the worst affected region by Covid-19.

Few devotees came out to pray at the temples. The numbers at Mahankali temple in Secunderabad and Peddamma temple in Jubliee Hills were hardly 30 per cent of the visitors who used to throng before Covid-19 lockdown.

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