Retailers Association of India (RAI) on Thursday said that the continued closure of malls in Maharashtra due to COVID-19 pandemic is a big blow to business and lakhs of people working there. The retailers' body claimed there is a misconception that being air-conditioned spaces, malls could exacerbate the pandemic situation and "there is no medical guideline or evidence that prohibits the use of air conditioners in view of the virus"."All other states in the country except Maharashtra have allowed malls to open along with other formats of retail. Malls in Maharashtra have been continuously giving assurances about following the required SOPs and structured processes to ensure social distancing and safety of shoppers," RAI CEO Kumar Rajagopalan said in a statement.Permitting malls to operate will pave the way for citizens to shop in a safe and sanitised environment but will also save jobs of lakhs of livelihoods the mall ecosystem supports, he asserted.RAI said malls have been diligently following all standard operating procedures (SOPs) on preventive measures issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to ensure the safety of the staff and citizens. "Malls associated with RAI have also been adhering to the detailed and comprehensive SOPs formulated by RAI to curb the spread of the virus. These SOPs are based on the framework of guidelines endorsed by the Indian Medical Association. Despite this, malls in Maharashtra continue to remain closed," RAI said.Stating that malls in Maharashtra generate a business of around Rs 40,000 crore and contribute Rs 4,000 crore in GST, per month, RAI said the prolonged closures are impacting more than 2 lakh people employed in about 50 malls in the state.