New Delhi, Jun 8 (PTI) Business remained lean as malls and restaurants commenced their operations in the national capital on Monday, while the footfall at religious places was also low after being thrown open for devotees following the easing of lockdown curbs.
No entry without masks, maintaining social distancing and a slew of other measures were among the new norms at these places as they started their operations on Monday after the Delhi government permitted reopening of malls, restaurants and religious places a day earlier.
At Hanuman Mandir in Connaught Place, the footfall was low. Pankaj Sharma, the temple mahant, said the number of devotees has dropped by 90 per cent.
Sikh devotees were seen at prominent gurdwaras such as Bangla Sahib, Sis Ganj and Rakabganj. They paid obeisance to Guru Granth Sahib by following social distancing norms.
Sanitisation tunnels have been set up at major gurdwaras and social distancing is being enforced by ensuring people do not stay longer in the sanctum, said Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee chairman Manjinder Singh Sirsa.
In old Delhi's Fatehpuri mosque, a decent turnout was witnessed with many Namazis breaking down on being able to visit the mosque after many days.
Muslims had been unable to offer prayers in mosques during Ramzan and on Eid due to the lockdown.
'It was a moment of great joy and many people felt emotional after being able to pray at the mosque. A special prayer was held urging the Allah to provide respite to the nation and its people from the pandemic,' said Mufti Mukarram Ahmed, Shahi Imam of Fathepuri mosque.
A number of churches, however, remained closed.
At Birla Mandir in central Delhi, its administrator Vinod Kumar Mishram said offering of flowers or 'prasad' will not be allowed.
'There will also be no applying of 'tilak', or approaching the 'aarti',' he said.
'Devotees are not allowed to approach the lamp (aarti) as their hands would be sanitised and could catch fire,' he said.
The temple will be sanitised fully once a day, but the handles and grills which could be touched by devotees will be sanitised 2-3 times a day.
Thermal screening is being conducted at the entry point, he said.
Bishop Anil Couto, Delhi archdiocese, had said the churches under jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Church will not immediately open from Monday.
Although restaurants started their operations, a sizable number of restaurants kept their shutters down due to a shortage of labour and timing to function.
At most places, entry for patrons without a mask was not disallowed. Restaurants had taken elaborate steps like not disposable menu cards, thermal screening of patrons before their entry.
At Saravana Bhavan restaurant in central Delhi, patrons will have to wear a mask, sanitise their hands. The restaurant also has disposable menu cards.
'Only two people will be accommodated on a table which had the capacity of four. They also have to sit maintaining sufficient distance,' said E Lokesh Kumar, the shift in-charge.
He added that the staff are using gloves, besides masks which are mandatory.
The popular south Indian eating joint has a minimum waiting time of 30 minutes, but there were very few customers at noon.
'We have just started and many of our customers may not be aware that we are open,' Kumar said.
At KFC, which also started its dine-in services, entry without a mask was not permitted and the security guard checked the body temperature with a thermal screening device.
To ensure social distancing, the eating joint allowed only two people per table. They have also made marks on the seats where sitting will be prohibited.
Markings were also made to ensure that people maintain distance while standing in queue for paying money and collecting their orders.
'We have modified the restaurant designs to reinforce social distancing, trained team members according to the new norms and are implementing measures like reduced seating to 50 per cent or less, distanced seating arrangements, demarcated waiting spots in the queues, controlled customer inflow,' said Moksh Chopra, chief marketing officer, KFC India.
Though most of the shops, offices and restaurants reopened at Saket's Select City Walk, one of the prominent malls in the city, only a handful of shoppers visited it in the initial hours.
The focus remained on the hourly disinfection of the common areas, contact-less shopping and physical distancing to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Staff were seen measuring body temperature and keeping a record of the visitors entering the premises. A contact-less sanitiser dispenser and a disinfection tunnel has been installed at the entry gate of the mall.
Most shops pasted stickers on the floor to help visitors maintain physical distancing and employees wore masks, face shields and gloves.
Announcements were being made, asking people to follow social distancing norms and wear masks all the time.
The staff said only those with the Aarogya Setu application on their mobile phones were being allowed to enter. Children aged below 10 and those aged above 65 were being refused entry.
A spokesperson for Select City Walk, Saket, said, 'The shopping centre has introduced subtle changes in design and layout across entrances, public spaces. Crowd control and footfalls will be kept as outlined by the government across the premises, public spaces and retail outlets to ensure that social distancing norms can be followed correctly.' PTI GVS VIT TRS PR KJ