New vaccine entry rule leads to drop in footfall in Karnataka malls, theatres

Representatives from malls and theatres met civic officials on Monday requesting a relaxation of norms

The emergence of the Omicron variant, and the State Government’s rule that only those who have taken two doses of the vaccine will be allowed in, has caused footfall at malls and theatres to drop substantially.

Industry insiders are unhappy that business, which had been slowly picking up only recently, has again taken a hit. Representatives from malls and cinema theatres met civic officials on Monday requesting them to relax norms. However, no decision has been taken in this regard.

“Footfall at our malls in the last two days has fallen by a staggering 70% compared to the weekend before that. December is a good season for shopping malls owing to Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. Given that patrons had started coming back, we were hopeful of recovering lost ground of the last year and a half, but all hopes have been dashed,” said Uday Garduachar, who owns the Garuda Malls chain in the state, and BJP MLA from Chikpet.

A security personnel sanitises the hands of a visitor and checks COVID-19 vaccination certificates at a mall in Bengaluru.

During the weekend and on Monday too, many malls in the city saw several patrons being denied entry and turned away as they failed to produce a certificate to show they had received two doses of the vaccine. “Many of them showed certificates of their first dose of the vaccine. But the rules have stipulated that only those who have got two doses of the vaccine can be allowed in,” said Daniel Selvaraj, a security officer at a mall in the Central Business District.

30% drop in theatres

The tale of theatres is no different.

K.V. Chandrashekhar, President, Karnataka Film Exhibitors’ Association, said footfall at the theatres have dropped by an average of 30% over the last two days. “Though online ticketing platforms have now added two doses of vaccination as one of the conditions for entry, many book tickets anyway and turn up and when denied entry, create a scene. Both exhibitors and the film industry have been reeling under losses and these new rules will again make business unviable. We request the government to at least allow those with a single dose of vaccine,” he said.

Chief Civic Commissioner Gaurav Gupta said though industry representatives had asked for allowing people with a single dose of vaccine, no decision has been taken in this regard yet. “Through written communication, we have already intimated the mall operators and owners of the new precautions to be in place. If there is any difficulty in implementation, we will assist them.” He also said that the civic body could conduct random checks to ensure that all the regulations are being followed.

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