Die-hard shoppers will not likely be deterred from shopping at the re-opened Coquitlam Centre despite social distancing rules that limit store occupancy and other changes.
Young adults looking for the latest high fashion shoes, seniors seeking a change of scenery after weeks indoors and harried moms shopping for their kids were among those who ventured out Wednesday for the second day of shopping at the Coquitlam mall.
“I miss getting clothes and shoes for sure,” said Brandon Mitchell, who wore a mask and gloves as he waited in line to shop at Champs.
As Phase 2 of the province’s pandemic recovery plan shifts into gear, retail stores are among those dealing with the new normal.
Signs posted on doors showed occupancy limits, personnel were stationed outside Sport Chek counting shoppers and there was hand sanitizer, plenty of mask-wearing shop clerks and clear directions for entering and exiting most stores.
Some changing rooms were closed, at H&M, for example, but purchases could be exchanged, and at Hudson’s Bay testers weren’t available at the make-up counter although samples could be provided instead.
At the food court, only a handful of eateries had their lights on and were serving meals.
However, you could sit at tables, a new reality from only a few days ago when only takeout was allowed, although some seats had signs declaring they were off limits due to the two metre social distancing requirement.
“It’s nice to be back working,” said Rayne Clark at the clothing retailer Plenty, who said she was laid off for two months in mid-March and is pleased to be on the job “talking to customers.”
Her colleague Kim Turnbull agreed that working at the high-fashion retailer was better than sitting at home, and she was pleased that the company provided personal protection equipment, such as masks and gloves and had instituted alternating shifts to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
At Plenty, store occupancy was limited to 10, including staff, and clothes are steam cleaned after they are tried on, while changing rooms are sanitized with Lysol wipes after each use.
At the Hudson’s Bay, a store greeter wore a clear plastic shield instead of a face mask and said it was comfortable once you got used it.
For many, spending a couple of hours at the mall was an important mental health boost.
Costa and Anna Angelis said they missed visiting Coquitlam Centre to have coffee with friends, and while they said they won’t wearing a mask anytime soon, they agreed that the social distancing provisions were a good idea.
“I think it’s good for health that it’s not too crowded,” Anna said.
At 2 p.m. Wednesday, the mall was relatively quiet, and with many chairs removed, it offered a zen-like space. However, an hour later, the place was filling up as people streamed in, many of them seniors.
The line-up for the Apple store, for example, was quick to fill up with mask-wearing shoppers.
It may take awhile to get used to, and some stores were still closed, but for many who made it to the mall Wednesday, it was trip back to near-normal.
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