Cory doesn’t want his photo taken. He doesn’t want his last name used either.
But he’ll talk about why he returned to his favourite Burnaby mall – the Amazing Brentwood – as it slowly reopens this week from a slumber forced by COVID-19.
“I’m playing hooky from work,” Cory says. “Well, I’m working from home right now and I’m sick of being stuck at home so I welcomed a chance to get out so I can do a little shopping. I should be hard at it, but I needed a break.”
The Amazing Brentwood is doing a “phased return” of its shops and services as part of the B.C. Restart Plan announced by Premier John Horgan.
“As we move towards the phased return of your favourite shops and services starting May 19 and over the coming weeks, your health and safety is our top priority,” says a post on the mall’s website. “We know that shopping will feel a little different but we remain committed to making your visit comfortable and enjoyable.”
The pandemic has been devastating for businesses. When I visited the mall this week, it wasn’t what I would call busy, but it was much better than previous visits.
Shoppers like Cory and others I chatted with said they were happy to get out to somewhere other than grocery stores, where many cited narrow aisles as being concerning.
“I feel like it’s easier to keep my distance in a mall,” Cory said.
I grew up just a few blocks from Brentwood and, despite the many changes and facelifts over the years, it still feels like the same mall I grew up with. The Amazing Brentwood is, of course, undergoing a serious transformation with a mall extension, loads of high-end new stores and multiple residential towers.
Several new stores, such as Sporting Life, haven’t been open very long at Brentwood and ended up shutting down due to the pandemic.
Other shops were forced to close down and are now finding ways to open with new procedures in place to make shoppers feel comfortable enough to return. (That is for the shoppers who haven’t lost their jobs and their sources of income. CERB money won’t be enough for many people to start shopping for non-essential items again.)
Shoppers to the Amazing Brentwood are being asked to do the following:
- Practise physical distancing and stay 2 metres apart from others
- Refrain from visiting the centre if you are feeling ill
- Not congregating or staying longer than necessary
- Wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer stations
The following precautionary measures have been put into place:
- High touch and common areas will be sanitized every hour during operating hours
- A deep clean and full sanitation of all common areas will be done overnight
- Disinfectant wipes are available at every entrance for your use
- Select doors will be designated as Enter or Exit only
- Directional arrows have been installed around the centre to ensure foot traffic keeps right in order to maintain safe and clear path ways
- Signage enforcing physical distancing of a minimum of 2 meters is displayed, along with decals that must be followed in queues, elevators, and other applicable areas
- Soft seating will remain minimal to prevent large groups congregating
- The Guest Services desk is currently closed – all services and amenities offered at Guest Services including stroller and wheelchair loans, coat check, gift wrap and cell phone charging is currently unavailable
- The Children’s Play area will remain closed until city parks and playgrounds re-open
The shoppers I spoke with – who were all wearing masks – said they felt comfortable going to a mall.
We’ll see in the coming weeks how many others follow.