FAQ: What Are the New SOPs For Visiting Malls, Eating Out?

The Health Ministry on Thursday, 4 June, issued the SOPs on preventive measures to be taken in hotels, shopping malls, restaurants and places of worship to contain the spread of COVID-19.
This comes days ahead of the re-opening of these places on 8 June, as specified by the Home Ministry in its guidelines under Unlock 1.0.
Here’s all you need to know about the functioning of malls and eateries during the pandemic.
Will shopping malls and restaurants across India open on 8 June?
While the Ministry of Home Affairs has allowed the re-opening of malls and restaurants, it is for the state governments to take the final decision. For example, while the Karnataka government has announced that malls and restaurants in the state will open, there has been no clarity from Tamil Nadu.
What if the mall in my area falls under a containment zone? Will it be allowed to re-open?
Shopping malls in containment zones shall remain closed. Only those outside containment zones will be allowed to open. The same rule applies to restaurants as well.
Who will be allowed entry into the mall/restaurant?
Only asymptomatic people will be allowed to enter the mall/restaurant.
Persons above 65 years of age, persons with comorbidities, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 years are advised to stay at home, except for essential and health purposes.
What precautions should be taken by individuals while visiting these places?
  • Maintaining physical distancing of a minimum of 6 feet, when queuing up for entry and inside the shopping mall as far as feasible.
  • All workers/customers/visitors to be allowed entry only if using face cover/masks.
  • The face covers/masks have to be worn at all times inside the shopping mall.
  • Use of escalators with one person on alternate steps to be encouraged.
  • Physical distancing of at least 6 feet to be followed as far as feasible.
  • Spitting shall be strictly prohibited.
  • Do not enter a store/restaurant is crowded
What precautions should be followed by the mall management?
  • Staggering of visitors to be done, if possible.
  • Number of customers inside the shop to be kept at a minimum, so as to maintain the physical distancing norms
  • Number of people in the elevators shall be restricted, duly maintaining social distancing norms.
  • Cleaning and regular disinfection of frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, elevator buttons, handrails, benches, washroom fixtures, etc to be made mandatory in all malls in common areas as well as inside shops, elevators, escalators.
  • Adequate manpower shall be deployed by mall management for ensuring social distancing norms.
  • Posters/standees/AV media on preventive measures about COVID-19 to be displayed prominently
What are some specific precautions that should be taken by restaurants?
  • Takeaways to be encouraged, instead of dine-in. Food delivery personnel should leave the packet at the customer’s door.
  • Do not handover the food packet directly to the customer.
  • The staff for home deliveries shall be screened thermally by the restaurant authorities prior to allowing home deliveries.
  • Seating arrangements to be made in such a way that adequate social distancing is maintained. In restaurants, not more than 50 percent of seating capacity to be permitted.
  • Disposable menus are advised to be used.
  • Instead of cloth napkins, use of good quality disposable paper napkins to be encouraged.
  • Buffet service should also follow social distancing norms among patrons.
What will remain closed inside the mall premises, even if stores open?
  • Large gatherings/congregations continue to remain prohibited.
  • Gaming arcades
  • Children play areas
  • Cinema halls