Maharashtra malls shut as govt remains firm on staff vaccination

Under the state govt rules, even customers need to be fully vaccinated


Maharashtra | Coronavirus Vaccine | Malls

Malls in Maharashtra downed shutters on Tuesday barely two days after reopening due to non-compliance with the state government’s double vaccination rule.

Last Wednesday, the Maharashtra government allowed malls, restaurants and stores across the state to remain open till 10pm from August 15. However the relaxations came with a rider, as the state government insisted that only fully-vaccinated staff could be deputed for duty. In the case of malls even customers need to be fully vaccinated, government said.

On Monday, the state government amended its order letting unvaccinated persons under 18 years access malls but made no changes in the other conditions.

While restaurants and other retail outlets remain open, industry associations say it is impossible to open malls under the existing rule as over 80 per cent of staff have received only a single dose.

“More than 80 per cent of our workforce falls in the age-group of 18-44 years. The primary reason for the inability of the staff to take both doses was the supply constraints witnessed by the state,” Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI) said in a statement.

There are around 50 malls in the state including 35 in Mumbai employing over 200,000 persons.

The Retailers Association of India had suggested opening of malls with staff who have taken a single dose. Malls opened on Sunday hoping for relaxation but were to forced to close again as the government has stuck to its stance.

“It is back to square one for now. We hope good sense will prevail,” said Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO of Retailers Association of India.

“Shopping malls in the state have been shut for more than 270/345 days since the pandemic struck resulting in huge, irrecoverable losses; we fear the trend will continue if urgent steps are not taken to ease restrictions that are ‘specifically made applicable for malls’. On the other hand, a lot of mall owners have huge debts due to financing and these restrictions are only ensuring greater difficulty in servicing these obligations,” SCAI added.

Free vaccination of persons in the 18-44 age group was suspended by the state government on May 12, eleven days after launch due to shortage of doses. The government began vaccinating people in the 30-44 age bracket from June 22. In the interim those between the 18-44 age group could get vaccinated only in a private vaccination centre. Until now, little over 1.2 million persons in Maharashtra in the age bracket have received both the doses.

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