malls open

Malls in Ontario are finally reopening for Step 2 and here are the new rules

Step 2 of reopening is finally on the horizon for the people of Ontario, who will be able to enjoy a whole spate of new freedoms as of 12:01 a.m. next Wednesday, June 30, including the return of malls and new, expanded maximum capacities at all types of retail stores.

Though there are a few select stores in malls across the province that were able to open their doors earlier this month as part of Step 1 of the province's 3-step framework, those outlets which do not have their own exterior openings have been shuttered for in-person shopping for nearly three months.

In regions such as Toronto, these outlets had only been open for a month since forced closures in the previous full lockdown.

As we enter the second step next week, loosened restrictions will mean that all shops selling predominantly "non-essential" goods — anything but food and drug store items — can indeed welcome customers again, regardless of whether they have a streetside entrance or not.

Customer limits for all of these "non-essential" stores provincewide will be upped from 15 per cent of capacity in Step 1 to 25 per cent in Step 2, while "essential" retailers such as supermarkets and pharmacies will likewise get to increase the number of people they can host in-store, from 25 per cent of capacity in Step 1 to 50 per cent in Step 2.

The roping off of "non-essential" items in big box locations that we saw as part of the emergency brake lockdown in April is also thankfully long-gone.

Health and safety measures for the industry will be in place, of course, including the familiar masking bylaws, physical distancing protocols, sanitation regimens and the like.

Specific rules for malls will include a prohibition on loitering inside or outside stores, the mandated closures of food court dining spaces (though takeout is fine) and volume limits for music.

As was the case last time shopping centres were open, customers can expect some entrances to be closed and to have to fill out a health screening questionnaire before entering the building.

Certain properties and stores may also have their own methods in place for managing lineups and indoor capacities.

Lead photo by

Jeff Hitchcock

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