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B.C. shops reopen as retailers, shoppers adjust to the new normal

B.C. retailers roll out new normal for shoppers
Malls and retailers that shut down when COVID-19 hit are starting to reopen and as Grace Ke reports, consumers are in for a very different shopping experience with stores limiting the number of customers and some requiring patrons to wear a face mask.

As the province entered the second phase of its plan to reopen the economy, retail shoppers saw safety measures in place to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Boards covering some storefronts came down in downtown Vancouver as retail businesses started to welcome customers.

Calls to repurpose Robson Street public space for expanded retail and patios
Calls to repurpose Robson Street public space for expanded retail and patios

Customers at downtown Vancouver’s Pacific Centre shopping mall experienced several changes, including enhanced cleaning, signs on how to navigate space while maintaining social distance and a limit on customers in stores at any one time.

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Customers will likely be asked to sanitize and some stores are providing masks and gloves.

Caposhie, a clothing store located on South Granville, reopened on March 15 and owner Adelle Renaud says they still have to diversify in order to survive.

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READ MORE: Coronavirus: From Plexiglas to leaving contact info, what dining out could look like in B.C.

“We sort of spent our time kind of building the back end up, and hopefully through this our online sales will grow and we’ll kind of figure out new and improved ways to figure that out.”

Most stores in B.C. were not legally required to close, but many chose to do so voluntarily. Earlier this month, the B.C. government outlined guidance for retail stores under enhanced protocols.

According to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, retailers need to consider the following measures when they welcome customers back:

  • Install physical Plexiglas barriers between checkouts
  • Reduce lineups by keeping a higher number of checkouts open
  • Increase or continue to encourage online shopping, deliveries, and/or pickups to reduce in-store visits
  • Increase shopping hours to spread out the number of customers in-store at any one time
  • Encourage or require customers to wear non-medical masks while shopping
  • Create messaging to inform customers not to shop if they have symptoms; and
  • Routine screening or questions to check customers for symptoms.