Malls going the distance for safety as reopenings begin
EDMONTON -- As big shopping centres like Kingsway Mall, Southgate Centre and West Edmonton Mall relaunch Thursday, vying for consumers to gradually return, they are all bound by the same set of new rules: the province’s safety guidelines for distancing.
One mall that is a little further away from the others says, it too, is ready to greet customers again starting today.
The Premium Outlet Collection Edmonton International Airport knows customers will want to know about the food court. And while it can’t say how quickly all the choices and businesses will all reopen, the seating area for those that are relaunching today is ready to safely accommodate for sit down meals.
The mall’s general manager says despite tables being bolted down, spacing will take place.
“We put a sign on the tables that they’ve been removed from availability and we’ve removed the chairs," Melaniee Smith told CTV News, just before the doors opened this morning.
Also closed off, as per guidelines, is every other washroom stall and urinal in the public washrooms throughout the mall. Lineup stickers on the floor show safe distancing just outside and leading into the washrooms. Some sinks have been rendered inoperable to maintain spacing as well.
“So we’re making sure in all of these areas our signage explains to the customer why it is adjusted and to make sure they have the most positive and healthy experience possible,” Smith said.
The markings continue in the extremely wide hallways that Smith calls “a blessing” at this particular time. The touchscreen information maps now common in many malls have been shut down, and if someone forgets, or touches it by mistake, hand sanitizer stations are located beside them. Allowances for disposable masks and gloves have been made with temporary trash cans located at exits. Water refill stations and strollers have been temporarily suspended.
And as for the possibility that sick people might still consider coming to the mall, the manager says they won’t actively stop people from entering, but would hope that they reconsider, before entering.
“We’re relying on customers and their self-governance. We’re providing signage and all of that education and listing all of the symptoms so that they can have that checkpoint and look and reference it and say, 'Maybe I can, maybe I can't,'" Smith stated.
As the mall opened to just a slow trickle of customers by noon, the manager said she wasn’t surprised. She can’t say how many retailers will be open for business on the first day or even the first week, but she believes consumers will slowly readjust to this first step of reopening society.
“We want to make sure that it is a modest and a gradual and a safe reopen of the property and our tenant," Smith said.
Kingsway Mall and West Edmonton Mall will follow similar health guidelines, including increased cleaning especially in tough-touch and high-traffic areas, decals and signs for traffic flow, physical distancing and hand washing, and hand sanitizer stations. Both shopping centres will offer curbside pickup for participating retailers.
All shopping centres are operating with reduced hours. For more information on which stores are open, visit their websites.