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Retailers’ association raises concern over Covid testing in shopping malls

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The Retailers Association of India (RAI) has raised concerns about the requirements for random Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) for mall customers ordered by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) recently. The body believes this is resulting in differential treatment to malls and its customers, creating a feeling of injustice.

Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers’ Association of India (RAI), said, “RAI appreciates the measures that the State Government and the local authorities are taking to curb the spread of the pandemic. However, the recent order to conduct random RAT on mall customers for entry is creating a discriminatory environment as customers in malls have to pay while in all other places it is sponsored by the BMC. It is also leading to economic turmoil for malls and retailers who are already struggling to revive from the aftermath of the pandemic.”

While citizens have also expressed mixed reactions on the mandatory antigen testing for entering into malls. Lavanya Shinde, one of the citizens said, “Malls are a safe place to do shopping as social distancing can be maintained very well unlike shopping in open local market areas which are always crowded.”

Another citizen however welcomed the BMC’s Covid-19 testing decision, he said, “It will stop people from going to malls randomly. Despite an increase in COVID-19 positive cases, people are going out, this needs to be controlled.”

RAI has submitted a representation on the issue stating that malls should not be targeted for such implementation. Also, it brought to the notice various issues affecting the mall business like due to lack of capacity and capability in conducting these tests at mall entry, customers are being forced to wait for long periods, leading to crowding which is detrimental to social distancing. It further stated that malls have been strictly following all standard operating procedures (SOPs) on preventive measures issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India to ensure the safety of the staff & citizens. At the onset of the pandemic, Retailers Association of India (RAI) & the Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI) had formulated detailed & comprehensive guidelines that have been strictly being followed by members to curb the spread of the virus.

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