Rockland Center bustling but safe

    COVID-19 measures respected at one of Montreal’s most popular malls

    Saturday marked the tail-end of 2021’s Spring Break, and for many people and families, a return to work, school and a day-to-day routine. Many decided to spend that day with their loved-ones doing activities or enjoying the sunny weather.
    Many decided to head to the Rockland Center for a day at the mall, shopping, browsing or getting take-out ice cream.
    Even with a global pandemic and strict sanitary guidelines in place, people managed to make the most of their Saturday all while staying safe. Parc-Extension News visited the mall on Saturday, Mar. 6 to evaluate how sanitary measures were being put in place and how people were feeling about them.
    Measures in place
    It is clear upon arrival that the mall has taken provincial health guidelines seriously and enforces the rules listed on their website.
    Upon arrival, rules are indicated to visitors. There are separate entry and exit doors for visitors to use in order “to ensure one-way traffic,” and hand sanitizer stations are readily available. A dedicated janitor also regularly wiped down all door handles with disinfectant.
    The mall also indicates in its guidelines that a security guard could be stationed at the doors to control the number of people coming in and to ask health questions to any clients. That being said, there was no security guard on duty when the newspaper visited.
    Inside the mall
    Once inside, it is clear that measures are being enforced. Mask wearing is obligatory and physical distancing is respected. This is aided by clear signage and reminders throughout the mall.
    While Rockland Center has a total capacity, each story also has a maximum number of clients allowed inside. With an employee at the door of every store verifying numbers and asking patrons to use the provided hand-sanitizer, individual stores seem to be respecting guidelines.
    This caused many stores to have fairly long lines in front. For example, Zara, H&M and Foot Locker all had lines of over a dozen people. Nonetheless, people felt comfortable having to wait before being allowed in.
    We are very comfortable here
    For the most part, it seems that many clients are satisfied with the response the mall has taken to keep shoppers safe.
    Jaspreet Singh and Talwinder Kaur are both Parc-Extension residents and were out for a day of browsing at the mall. “It’s good, it’s really good,” said Singh when asked about what he thought of the sanitary measures put in place.
    “We are very comfortable here,” said Singh, adding that “nothing more could be done,” to

    make them feel safer.
    With a capacity of 3225 people, Kaur felt that numbers in the mall were well within those limits. She even felt that some measures were too strict and impeded access to certain stores. “It’s too much, the lines are too long,” Kaur said.
    Preventative meausres
    Security guards patrolled the area and made sure no one was gathering and to prevent anyone from loitering. Management has also removed all furniture in common spaces, children’s play areas and vending machines.
    One-way signage is displayed on all footpaths to ensure that people are not crossing each other. However, it was clear this was not being entirely respected nor was it being enforced. People nonetheless kept their distance.
    The food court has remained open and options are available, but seating is extremely limited and patrons are encouraged to get takeout and eat off the premises.
    They’re following the rules
    Since reopening stores, hair salons and other businesses to shoppers on Feb. 8, some were worried that sanitary measures would not be fully enforced and the city could see a spike in cases.
    Case numbers and hospitalization rates have nonetheless continued to decline for the past month. With 579 new reported cases and 590 active hospitalizations, Mar. 8 marked a new record low for the province, not seen since early-November.
    “I come very often here,” said NDG resident Ahsan Ahmed, who comes to the mall with his family approximately twice a month.
    “They’re following the rules,” Ahmed said, adding that “they have all hand-sanitizer in front of the stores.” “I’m happy with the situation,” said Ahmed.