Staffers follow social distancing norms as they queue up for an elevator at a city mall
KOLKATA: Social media campaign on how to behave at malls; contactless parking on arrival; bullet camera on customers with high body temperature; unidirectional customer flow on the mall floor; sensor-based hand sanitizer dispensers at strategic points; spot checks by patrolling inspectors; virtual pay card at food courts. With just a week to go before business resumes on June 8, mall operators are rushing to put in place technology and systems to detect potential Covid carriers, insulate others and ensure social distancing.
At South City mall, the city’s largest shopping facility with a retail area of nearly 8 lakh sqft, the mall chief is looking at turret or bullet camera that automatically does a thermal scan of customers and is intelligent enough to not trigger an alarm when the person is holding a hot cup of beverage. It can also cross-check images from other cameras to see if the high temperature detected from the customer’s forehead is due to rubbing action just prior to the reading.
The mall is also putting in place unidirectional customer flow. “If customers move in one direction, there is less chance of direct droplet infection if someone coughs or sneezes. In any case, it will be mandatory for everyone to wear masks in the mall at all times, except while eating,” said South City mall vice-president Manmohan Bagree. The mall will have a clockwise flow for a week, followed by anti-clockwise flow the next.
At Quest, the 4 lakh sqft luxury mall, vice-president Sanjeev Mehra has asked the car park and the food court operators to put in place contactless systems. “The Quest app will allow customers to drive in and scan the QR code on entering and then pay electronically at the end of the visit. Work is underway to put in place a virtual card for use in the food court. Since we have to live with the virus, the best way is to eliminate contact,” he said.
At Acropolis, too, plans are on to develop a software for food courts and restaurants so that customers can use their phones to order and pay. “Acropolis has also planned a social media campaign on dos and don’ts,” said mall developer Sushil Mohta.
At City Centre I, an ‘open’ mall designed by Charles Correa, the opening will be in phases. The mall, and several others, will have spot thermal checks by security persons. Only individuals with body temperature below 98.5°F will be allowed in. “We will request youngsters to leave the elevators free for the elderly. Also, since the design limits unidirectional flow of customers, we will urge customers to keep to the extreme left while walking through corridors,” said Ambuja Neotia group facility head Narender Singh.