As States begin setting new norms for opening of malls and dine-in services in restaurants from June 8 in non-containment zones, in line with the Ministry of Home Affairs’ guidelines, industry associations have pointed to a slew of challenges in implementing the new norms.

The Retailers Association of India (RAI) believes that instead of asking States to open various formats of retail stores as per their own independent guidelines, a uniform set of standard operating procedures should be implemented across the country.

Independent guidelines

Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India, said, independent guidelines from States have led to multiple interpretations which are severely impacting demand and sales. “There needs to be a uniform standard operating procedures for any part of the reopening process — permission to open stores; time restrictions on store operations; movement of staff and delivery vehicles; product pricing restrictions; the number of staff and customers allowed in a store; or odd/even store restrictions,” he added. The association believes the SOP should include guidelines for AC to be able to maintain ambient temperatures for the comfort of staff and consumers.

According to estimates by Shopping Centres Association of India, about 50-60 per cent of the 650-odd large malls of over 100,000 sq ft in the country, may get the final nod from State governments to open on June 8. Amitabh Taneja, Chairman, Shopping Centres Association of India, “We are advising the industry fraternity to ensure that safety and hygiene protocols are followed to build confidence among consumers in shopping malls. We have also submitted our recommendations to the MHA on SOP for opening malls.”

Pushpa Bector, Executive Director, DLF Shopping Malls, said, “We are prepared to open our malls from June 8 in adherence with all the safety and hygiene protocols. However, we are seeking clarity from various State governments on re-starting operations.”

Meanwhile, restaurant owners are gearing up to open their dine-in facilities with various sanitisation measures, even as they await State governments’ guidelines. Moksh Chopra, CMO, KFC India, said, “We have modified the restaurant designs to reinforce social distancing, trained team members according to new norms and are implementing measures like distanced seating arrangements, demarcated waiting spots in the queues and controlled customer inflow among other measures.”

Awaiting guidelines

The National Restaurant Association of India said its engaging with various State governments on opening of dine-in facilities at restaurants. Anurag Katriar, President, NRAI, said, the association is awaiting guidelines from various State governments and will need to see aspects such as operational hours, whether serving liquor will be allowed in restaurants with liquor licences and whether dine-in facilities open in restaurants in top urban centres.