Malls in Waterloo Region have been filling up since lockdown was lifted on Feb. 16, store employees and patrons said, as residents seek shopping experiences outside of their homes.
Stores have faced long-lineups as people were excited and overwhelmed to go back and shop.
“My wife has been so eager for the shopping malls to open so she can make me come up here with her too,” said Joel Bennett.
“It has been a while, I was shopping online though, but mostly saved money, because it’s not really the same thing, I like to try and look at stuff before I buy it, so I came as soon as malls opened,” said Tracy Bennett.
“I was just saving so I can spend when malls open,” she said, chuckling.
The parking lots at CF Fairview Park, Kitchener and Cambridge Centre have been packed.
Food Courts are back open for the public with a capacity of 10. Fitting rooms are open, and malls are needed to screen people who enter the mall.
People are required to be wearing masks all the time and follow physical distance. Updated measures are taken by stores in the mall.
“We are making sure that everyone who enters the store has a mask on and sanitizes their hands before coming in and we are only letting a limited number of shoppers in — we have a person at the door to monitor that,” said Maria Davis, an employee at Ardene.
“The first day was crazy, so much stuff was sold out, it’s great to see that enthusiasm though after coming back to work,”
Davis said she is glad to be able to come back to work, see some people and help them buy stuff.
Even though the government has relaxed restrictions and opened in-person shopping for non-essential items, it has also warned that this is not a broad re-opening and that people must be extremely cautious and understand that this does not represent a return to normal.
“I am excited, but I do understand that this is a critical time, and we have to take care of the people around us too, so I try to wash or sanitize my hands, maintain a distance and wear a mask for sure,” said Bennett. “I wish we get back to normal by the end of this year.”