With domestic travel in a lull, Maharashtra urged to open malls

In an effort to save jobs of around 50 lakh people and encourage domestic travel, the Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI) has written to Maharashtra Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray to reopen malls which have remained shut since March due to the pandemic.

Covid-19 has affected 3.47 lakh people and claimed 12,854 lives in the state till now – the highest in the country.

“About 5 million jobs (50 lakh) are at stake if malls are not opened at the earliest,” the letter warned adding that retrenchment could be seen as early as August. So far, big malls in Mumbai and Thane haven’t reported any job loss yet.

The letter added that the lockdown has also put on hold construction of 30 malls and the retail industry has already suffered losses in excess of Rs 1,00,000 crore. Besides, with malls shut, domestic travel has lost its momentum.

Malls across the country re-opened last month, but Maharashtra govt decided otherwise due to rising number of Covid cases. However, the state has said it is prepared to implement stricter Covid safety norms applied in other cities, such as Delhi, Gurugram, Bengaluru and Lucknow, for reopening malls.

“Maharashtra is a crucial state (for the retail sector). There are at least 75 malls in the state that contribute significantly to the retail economy. Shopping centres have created stringent SOPs (standard operating procedures) which are being followed in letter and spirit. The government should now really look at reopening malls. Lives and livelihoods are both important,” Amitabh Taneja, Chairman of the Shopping Centres Association, said