‘It almost feels like life is back to normal,’ a shopper said.
RESIDENTS across the Northern Cape flocked to malls to make use of the partial easing of the lockdown as Level 4 kicked in, allowing some stores to trade.
At the Diamond Pavilion Mall in Kimberley queues formed outside many of the clothing stores from before the shops opened on Friday morning.
Security personnel ensured that all shoppers were wearing face masks and maintained social distancing. Shoppers were obliged to stick to health regulations, with security personnel spraying hand sanitiser as those looking to buy winter clothing and bedding entered the doors. Strict access control was implemented, with some shops only allowing three shoppers at a time through the doors.
One shopper said that although she knew it was likely to be very busy, she needed to buy some winter clothes. “We have spent the lockdown with family in Kimberley and when we arrived in March it was still warm. This has changed, however, and we have been caught without any warm clothes.”
She also indicated that they would make use of the week-long window of opportunity for once-off movement to return to their own home town next week.
Another shopper said she had to buy clothing for her children. “The weather is getting a lot cooler and they have grown out of their warm clothes from last winter.”
Others indicated that it was “refreshing” to go to the mall after being at home for so long. “I don’t really need anything in particular but I wanted to get out a bit and now I can look at what is in the shops. I don’t really have money to buy much,” said one shopper.
At the Kalahari Mall in Upington, shoppers were elated that the lockdown restrictions had been lifted at some of the stores.
Here too, mall security ensured that everyone entering the building was wearing a mask and instructed those who had their masks hanging at their chins to put them on correctly.
The mostly female shoppers stood patiently in line as clothing stores only allowed a certain number of clients to enter at a time.
The ladies indicated that they had been longing for some “retail therapy” after being cooped up with their families at home.
One shopper, Susan de Bruin, said the opening of clothing stores was a light at the end of a dark tunnel.
“This lockdown is very depressing and having our movement restricted is unbearable. I have gone out to buy groceries but it just wasn’t fun to be at the mall. I only went for what I needed and then went back home again. It was even scary because some days the mall was so empty. Today it feels better as there are people around and more stores are open. You can at least buy yourself something new so that you can feel a bit better,” De Bruin laughed.
Another shopper, Elize Markgraff, said she did not mind waiting in line in order to enter a store.
“We just wanted to get out of the house for a change of scenery. I do not mind waiting as today is a holiday and I do not have to rush home. We need this new scenery to energise us to continue being positive about the lockdown. Everyone at the mall is adhering to the regulations and there have not been any incidents where law enforcement had to intervene,” Markgraff said.
Store managers and personnel were just as happy as their customers to be back at work.
“Today is Workers’ Day and it feels good to be back at work. There has been so much uncertainty about what will happen to us in the retail industry. We heard on the news that so many people have lost their jobs due to this virus and we were afraid that our jobs might also be on the chopping block if things carried on as they were. We are concerned about our health but we also need employment,” they said.
They added that as a precaution, they ensured that all customers had their hands sanitised and were wearing a mask before they entered the store.
“Customers line up in front as we cannot allow lots of people inside the store at one time. Inside the stores, the customers also have to maintain social distancing. So far everything has gone smoothly and it almost feels like life is back to normal.”