Hundreds of shoppers head to the mall as non-essential COVID-19 restrictions ease in Winnipeg

CF Polo Park mall was buzzing with shoppers Saturday, the first day Winnipeggers were able to buy non-essential items once again in stores.

Under the new public health orders, which went into effect at midnight Friday, moves to ease COVID-19 restrictions include allowing hair cuts, buying of non-essential items in stores and the allowance to have two designated people visit your house.

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Many people Global News spoke to at the mall said it was their first time visiting since restrictions went into effect in November, and that they were happy stores were opening up again.

Physical distancing signs, hand sanitizing stations and crowd control were being overseen by mall employees to help keep the spread of COVID-19 low.

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“I’m happy but a little afraid because for so long we have all these restrictions and now we see people, so many people in one place,” shopper Marie Mendes said. “It’s a kind of weird, weird feeling you know.”

Outside of the mall, White Pine Bicycle Co. store owner Brendan McAndrew said he’s excited to be able to sell more items in store, but the restrictions have come with unique challenges of their own.

“It’s good,” McAndrew said. “[But] it almost makes double the work when you prepare your websites for having all of that stuff available because everybody still wants the free delivery. And now they can also come in the store so it can’t be a mess anymore like we’ve had inventory just all over the place, set up so that when somebody orders something online it’s right there and ready to go.”

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Manitoba businesses prepare to reopen

McAndrew notes the pandemic pushed his business to go online, something he admits will be good for the future of his business and understands if customers want to stick to online shopping.

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“They haven’t come in yet but it’s also the first day so we expect people to kind of wait,” McAndrew said. “Yeah things are opened up but there’s still COVID in our community, like it’s still a big issue.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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