iN VIDEO: Kelowna’s Orchard Park Mall eerily quiet - InfoNews

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iN VIDEO: Kelowna’s Orchard Park Mall eerily quiet

Customers line up outside of Orchard Park Shopping Centre in Kelowna as the province has placed a limit on how many people can gather to limit the spread of COVID-19.
March 19, 2020 - 7:30 PM

Stores are closed, parking lots are nearly empty and the halls are largely deserted at the B.C. Interior’s largest shopping centre.

Kelowna’s Orchard Park Mall is unusually quiet for Spring Break, where locals and visitors would normally be spending their time eating, shopping and visiting on a Thursday morning.

However, the province has ordered any gatherings with more than 50 people to disband, including bars and restaurants.

Lush, located in the mall, made an announcement last week that it would close all its retail stores temporarily.

READ MORE: Lululemon, LUSH among retailers in Okanagan and Kamloops closing for COVID-19 concern

Residents stood outside of Best Buy, one of the few stores that remain open at the shopping centre, which has been limiting the number of customers allowed inside its store.

Provincial medical health officer Bonnie Henry announced March 17 that residents should maintain a distance of one to two metres away from each other.

While it’s early days in the social distance world of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some early signs that more people are hitting popular outdoor parks and trails.

The City of Kelowna has 34 counters set up to record pedestrian and cycle movements on city streets and in or near some parks.

Early indications are that traffic – especially bike traffic - over the past week or so is up in places like Knox Mountain Park and the Okanagan Rail Trail while pedestrian traffic on Bernard Avenue is down and fewer vehicles are using parkades, Raphael Villarreal, the city’s integrated transportation manager, said.

But, he strongly cautioned, it’s far too soon to say whether a pattern is emerging. That’s partly due to the newness of the social distancing rules and other initiatives of the provincial government but also because it’s spring break so children are out of school and families may be travelling more.

The city is going to be crunching the numbers over the next few weeks to see what patterns are emerging. That work will include traffic counts on some city streets and coordination with the province on traffic counts on the Bennett Bridge.

- With files from Rob Munro

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