After over two months of being under lockdown, many sectors in Bengaluru reopened their shutters on Monday embracing the ‘new normal’.
As places of worship opened, people were seen standing in queues to get ‘darshan’ in temples like Halasuru Someshwara and Dodda Basavanagudi. There were markers to keep safe distance, thermal checking and sanitisers at the entrance of the temples.
However, there was no rush.
Speaking to The Hindu , Ravishankar G N of the Dodda Basavanagudi Managing Committee said that all precautionary measures were in place, including availability of sanitisers at the entrance of the temple, markers for social distancing and thermal screening.
“There is no distribution of theertha and prasada. People can get darshana. People are cooperating and we are thankful to them,” he said.
People in temples were not allowed to sit and pray. “Now I feel a kind of normalcy has returned as temples and hotels are open. I am a regular to Someshwara temple but had not been to the temple for over two months as it was closed. It was a serene experience visiting the temple,” Shambavi, a devotee said.
Customers screened before allowed inside malls
On the first day of reopening of malls, customers were allowed inside premises after thermal screening and measures were taken to maintain social distancing during shopping and billing. However, the number of visitors was less on the first day.
Among the visitors most visited supermarkets located inside the malls to buy groceries and other household items. As per the order of the government, cinema halls and children play areas remain closed.
Shashikumar a resident of Yelahanka who had come for shopping at a supermarket in RMZ Galleria Mall said, “Prior to lockdown, I used to come with family members for shopping. On the first day opening the mall, I came alone for household shopping. Staff insisted people to maintain social distancing during the time of purchase.” At the mall, security staff was seen wearing face masks and shields. Sanitisers were provided at each shop.
An employee working at a shop said, “For close to three months malls were closed. We were given instructions by the management to maintain social distancing during the shopping. On the first day, the number of visitors was less and we are hoping that gradually it will pick up.” At the mall, some of the eateries were open.
Avantika V (name changed) said that she came to visit the Mantri Mall as it had been over 70 days "at home".
"I study in a college nearby and I come here with friends generally on weekends. I was missing that part and hence came here with friends after a long time," she said, adding that enough measures had been taken at the mall for safety of both customers and staff.
Another visitor said that in cities like Bengaluru, malls are a part of recreation and that he was missing it for a long time. "I stay close by and visited the place out of curiosity," the visitor said.
Restaurants that are open have precautionary measures for both customers and employees. While customers have been asked to maintain social distancing and use sanitisers before entering the hotels, employees have been told to avoid travelling to other cities for the time being. Some restaurants have tweaked their infrastructure and have made compartments on tables so that physical contact is avoided. Many restaurants are now serving food only in disposable plates.
But business has been slow for some of them, with a few hotels not getting even a single customer since morning. There is a slow trickle of customers in some others. “There is a fear among customers that they can contract infection by eating at a hotel. It takes some time to instil confidence in them about the hygiene in hotels,” said Chandrashekhar Hebbar, President, Karnataka State Hotels and Restaurants Association.
Most hotels are serving food in disposables - paper cups, plates while some have taken the sustainable route serving food in areca plates and wooden spoons. Several hotels have hiked the prices of the food to make good the additional cost of disposables. A few hotels have also taken to serving food on banana plantain leaves, either directly or in a steel plate.
Meanwhile, the seating arrangement allows only for two people per table, reducing the capacity by half. Most hotels with seating arrangements have put up thermal scanners. Darshinis have also installed hand sanitisers. All the cooks and servers are mandated to wear hand gloves.
Poor footfall at K.R. Market
K R Market, one of the major markets in the city that reopened after a gap of 75 days received poor footfall in the morning hours. Shopkeepers were seen cleaning their shops on the first day of opening the market. G Diwakar, a trader at the market said, “Today being the first day, there are hardly any customers in the market. Shopkeepers are busy cleaning the shops as we were allowed inside the market only on Monday morning. By Wednesday, all the shops will be functional and footfall will gradually increase.”
(Inputs from Jayasimha K R, Tanu Kulkarni, Aditya Bharadwaj, Suchith Kidiyoor)