This is why people are still allowed inside Toronto malls like Yorkdale
Shopping centres and non-essential retail stores in Toronto and Peel were among the businesses forced to cease operations beyond delivery and curbside pickup on Monday morning as part of the regions' exile into the Grey zone, the most stringent form of new lockdown restrictions.
But somehow, there are still customers technically permitted inside of select Toronto and Mississauga malls right now, and their entrances remain open. And no, the centres aren't to their knowledge flouting provincial orders — they're just trying out a creative variation of the concept of curbside pickup.
As part of the new "storefront pickup" strategy, Oxford Properties — which manages Toronto's Yorkdale mall, Mississauga's Square One Shopping Centre and the Scarborough Town Centre — is letting patrons make purchases online or by phone from stores that don't have the benefit of their own external entrances. And competitors like CF Sherway Gardens have jumped on the trend, too.
Stores such as cosmetics company Nyx, purse and clothing brand Michael Kors, and bath bomb vendor Lush are among the dozens that are participating in the service, in which retailers are assigned a designated pick up zone.
Many of these zones are outdoors, near key mall entrances in parking lots — but some are also inside of the malls, in hallways and other communal spaces, though not in the stores themselves.
Oxford claims that it is safely functioning in accordance with the latest provincial regulations, which state that members of the public can indeed enter a shopping mall to access an essential business or "designated locations for the purpose of allowing patrons to pick up an order from a business or place inside or adjacent to the shopping mall," which are permitted so long as no one is loitering around.
Restaurants in mall food courts are also authorized to stay open for takeout, though food and beverage cannot be consumed inside.
"Yorkdale, Square One and Scarborough Town Centre are supporting retailers by creating designated curbside and storefront pick up locations for stores adapting quickly during this important retail period by offering e-commerce or phone order fulfillment," Oxford said in a press release about the move.
It goes on to state that malls like Yorkdale have been fielding tens of thousands of inquiries about options leading up to the busiest shopping season, and that "a common concern expressed from customers was about shipping delays from online orders arriving before the holidays."
But, some online are already expressing concern about the potential crowding that the program may cause, especially as things get busier later in the month closer to Christmas.
"If all mall entrances are open, people are gonna come inside and walk around. They’ll congregate in front of stores," one Redditor worried.
"Whether or not that will thin the herd of shoppers enough to keep malls really sparsely populated is up in the air," another added on the same thread.
Shoppers interested in taking advantage of storefront pickup can check each mall's respective website for a list of participating retailers. Meanwhile, we'll have to wait and see if the crowding ends up anywhere nearly as bad as how packed Toronto area shopping centres were in the days leading up to their closure.
Malls in nearby regions that aren't in the Grey zone, such as Vaughan Mills and Markville Mall, remain open.
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