Malls across Delhi have geared up for the festive season. It has been five months since they reopened in June with strict adherence to Covid precautions like mandatory thermal scanning at entry and social distancing markers everywhere. Now, ahead of Diwali, shopping malls have stocked up on massive colourful decorations, a wide variety of Ganesh-Lakshmi statues, candles, diyas and rangoli stickers.
Several stores are offering discounts and gift vouchers but the footfall is not the same as last year.
Nalini, a customer at south Delhi's Select Citywalk Mall in Saket said, "We have come to pick up an essential item only because it was necessary. Otherwise one should stay away. The shopping experience has definitely changed. One doesn't see and try as many things because you try to touch lesser items to prevent an infection."
For some customers, shopping is now mostly online and malls are places to hang-out at. Even though food courts have been allowed to open with only 50% seating capacity, several customers can be spotted. A huge advertisement board aptly sums up what one sees: "Social distancing with people, not food".
Shweta Rawat, who came to the food court with a group of friends said, "I am from Faridabad and this is the first time since the lockdown that I have come to Delhi. I haven't done much physical shopping yet. I have mostly been shopping online. But I preferred to come to the food court because it gives me the chance to gorge on my favourite food and catch up with friends. I thought it's safe as the government has put in a lot of measures in place to ensure everybody's safety. In the initial months one was more scared of the disease as people weren't aware. Now we have seen so many cases around that we understand the disease better and know that it's possible to evade it as long as one follows all precautions. That is what gives us the courage to step out of our homes now."
The Selct Citywalk Mall has now put in place a home delivery system for shopper still cautious about venturing out.
Delhi has reported over 6,000 coronavirus cases within 24 hours, for the second consecutive day today. The national capital, which has been facing its worst wave of coronavirus infection since the pandemic hit the country early this year, has logged 6,842 new cases in a day, its highest ever tally.