Shopping malls in Maharashtra on Tuesday decided to close down operations, after the government modified guidelines mandating them to operate with fully-vaccinated staff.
It would take at least a month before a "sizeable number" of staff gets both the doses of vaccine and meets the criteria provided there is no shortage of the jabs, the Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI) said in a statement.
Maharashtra had allowed malls to open up last Wednesday after months of closure to contain the spread of infections. However, the government had asked the malls to operate only with double-vaccinated employees and also admit only fully-vaccinated patrons.
"In light of the modified guidelines issued by the Government of Maharashtra on 16 August 2021, restraining mall staff from returning to workplace unless they are vaccinated with two doses with a gap 14 days after the second dose, it is unfortunate that malls across the state have decided to close down,” a statement from the SCAI said.
The statement said since the order last Wednesday, citing the malls' inability to operate, specifying that 80 per cent of the staff had received the first shot of the vaccine and the primary reason for not taking both the doses was supply constraints.
Malls have been shut for over 270 days since the pandemic struck, which has resulted in huge losses and the same will aggravate if urgent steps are not taken to ease restrictions, it said.
"We would like to urge the chief minister to reconsider the applicability of this clause for mall and retail staff and allow malls and retail to open if staff is vaccinated with one dose," it said, adding that a positive decision can help lakhs of people dependent on malls or modern retail trade.