Bengalureans will be able to shop at malls and markets, dine at their favourite hotels and restaurants and head to places of worship from Monday as most such establishments are set to “unlock” themselves. However, signs of the “new normal” will be evident.
Hoteliers and restauranters claim to have taken several measures, such as not placing menu cards on the tables, encouraging digital transactions, sanitising all touch points and tables. P.C. Rao, president of the Bruhat Bengaluru Hotels’ Association, said that posters on COVID-19 would also be put up in hotels and restaurants, while maintenance of hygiene and sanitation is being given paramount importance. All the common areas and touch points will be sanitised, he added.
Markets are also set to reopen on Monday. Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Commissioner B.H. Anil Kumar, accompanied by senior civic officials, inspected Krishna Rajendra Market on Sunday afternoon.
G.M. Divakar, president of K.R. Market Flower Traders’ Association, said that to begin with, only licence holders would be permitted in the market. The 2,200 shops in the market would be reopening after 80-odd days. The onus is on the shopkeepers to ensure crowd management, he said.
Standard operating procedures
- For places of worship: Staggering of visitors/devotees, if possible; touching of statues, idols, holy books not allowed; no physical offering such as ‘prasada’ distribution or sprinkling of holy water; frequent cleaning and disinfection
- For hotels/restaurants/hospitality units: Contact-less processes such as QR code scanning, digital payments; room service, takeaways to be encouraged instead of dine-in; cleaning and regular disinfection of frequently touched surfaces; kitchen staff to also follow social distancing; large gathering/congregations remain prohibited
- For shopping malls: Proper queue management and disinfection; no more than 50% of seating capacity permitted at food courts; number of customers inside the shop to be kept at a minimum; use of escalators with one person on alternate step to be encouraged; children’s play area, gaming arcades, cinema halls to remain closed
Russell Market, on the other hand, will be reopening only on Tuesday. According to Mohammed Idrees Choudhury, general secretary of Russell Market Traders’ Association, massive cleaning of the market premises is scheduled on Monday.
While many temples are set to reopen on Monday, ISKCON has postponed the same till June 15.
“We are still planning strategies on crowd management. We propose to allow only 100 devotees per hour. Devotees may book the time slot online. We also plan to have sensors installed in taps to make them touch-free,” said a representative of ISKCON.
At the Gavi Gangasareshwara Temple, darshan will be allowed between 8 a.m. and noon. “There will be no archanas or special prayers. We will not be giving teertha or prasada for the devotees either. Volunteers and temple staff will regulate the devotees to ensure there is no crowding and social distance is maintained,” said priest Somasundar Dikshit.
Churches will be open only post June 13, said J.A. Kantharaj, spokesperson of the Archdiocese of Bangalore. “We have received the SOP from the government and have conveyed the same to the 110 churches coming under the archidiocese. We are planning to continue with live streaming prayers, while also increasing the number of services,” he said and added that devotees would be asked to use alternate pews to maintain social distancing.
Maqsood Imran, imam of Jamia Masjid, said sanitiser tunnels would be placed inside the mosque, apart from sensor-based hand sanitiser dispensers. The mats in the prayer halls have been removed and markings have been made to ensure social distancing among those coming to pray. The community members had also been urged to finish ‘wadoo’ (cleaning ritual) at home before coming to pray.
Some malls to wait
Meanwhile, a few malls have decided to put off reopening by a couple of days. Shashie Kumar, chief executive officer, Brigade Retail, told The Hindu that while the mall premises had been sanitised completely, they had decided to give time to the retailers to take necessary measures in their individual shops.
Nandeesh M.R., general manager of Garuda Mall, said Aarogya Sethu app would be made mandatory for anyone visiting the mall that would be open from Monday. “We have also taken steps to ensure social distancing in the food courts,” he said.