Guidelines from the Ministry of Home Affairs have granted permission for hotels, malls ans restaurants to reopen for business post a two-month lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. While scores of people have already started venturing out, mainly for work, going out for recreation would be slightly different, owing to our own apprehensions, or due to the new social distancing norms. A reader of Yo! Vizag, currently living in Hyderabad shared her experience of going to a recently opened mall in her neighbourhood, and how the shopping experience was different for her.
“I have been living in Nizampet, Kukatpally for the last seven years. The area is home to a lot of IT professionals whose offices are located at Hitec City, Gachibowli and other neighbouring localities. Weekends for a lot of us meant catching up on a movie at a nearby mall and heading out for a meal soon after. Shopping is another hot favourite. Trips to the mall were a routine affair, and sometimes featured in the middle of the week, if one got lucky.
With the lockdown now eased in Hyderabad, I recently had the opportunity to revisit a local shopping mall. I was expecting the same drill as usual – pick up the parking token – park – get in to the mall. Except, the drill now had new elements in place. To start with, all patrons were handed over a parking token, only after it was sanitized with a disinfectant. The parking spots had changed – with ‘X’ marks painted indicating patrons not to park in these spaces. Entry was different too – one had to stand in queues, at least three feet away from other patrons. Sign boards indicating all the rules for entry to the mall were mentioned – ‘No Mask, No Entry’ being the most prominent one.
A new equipment that featured at the entrance was an automatic sanitizer dispenser. We had to sanitize our hands and proceed to the temperature checking counter – post which, we had to show the mall guard if we installed the Arogya Setu mobile application. The drill didn’t end here though. The escalator at the entrance of the shopping mall had clear signs on which step one must step on. These signs featured on every fifth step or so to ensure we aren’t too close to other patrons. We had to undergo temperature checks at every store entrance, and sanitize our hands before moving further. Every billing counter featured sanitizers and mall staff were trained to instruct patrons to maintain physical distance.
As I stepped out of the shopping mall, I realised that my experience of shopping at a mall in Hyderabad had changed fundamentally. In my opinion, the change is for the better, since physical distancing and personal space is a concept alien to most of us in India. Would it still be as fun? I think so, but a tad bit safer.”
Disclaimer: The views are the author’s own