Province says it's 'not business as usual' but malls in Okanagan, Kamloops stay open - InfoNews

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Province says it's 'not business as usual' but malls in Okanagan, Kamloops stay open

A very quiet Orchard Park Mall, March 19.
March 20, 2020 - 7:15 PM

It seems to defy instructions given by the province and is in stark contrast with some actions taken south of the border, but shopping malls across the B.C. Interior remain open, albeit with few customers.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said yesterday, March 19, it was not "business as usual" and it was a time to "lay low" and only shop for essentials.

However, over a dozen people stood outside waiting to enter Best Buy at Kelowna's Orchard Park Shopping Centre yesterday afternoon - many in close proximity to each other.

The Orchard Park mall remained opened today, March 20, although the vast majority of the stores remain closed. Kamloops's Aberdeen Mall also remained open, as did Vernon's Village Green Shopping Centre. The Capri Centre Mall in Kelowna confirmed a few stores remained open.

Located in Vernon's Village Green mall, Lifestyle Naturals manager Karen Lowen said the vitamin and supplement store was one of only a few still open, and they were receiving a steady stream of orders from regular customers - many they delivered to people sitting in their vehicles in the parking lot.

Whether keeping the malls open is a way for landlords to keep charging their tenant's rent is not known.

Administration at Orchard Park mall, Aberdeen Mall and the Capri Centre Mall did not return our calls.

The Village Green Mall said in an email, that stores were given the flexibility to chose their own hours without defaulting under the terms of their lease.

"The few remaining tenants who remain open are providing important services to our community such as access to groceries, drugs, essential household items, financial services, and nutrition," the mall said. It said not closing the mall allows tenants to continue to serve the community with necessary goods and services.

Lowen wasn't sure how rent would work if the mall closed down.

Keeping the malls open is in stark contrast to recent changes in the U.S.

Forbes reported the U.S. largest mall operator, the Simon Property Group, had closed more than 200 shopping centres throughout the country March 18.

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