NORTHRIDGE (CBSLA) — With just four days left until Christmas, holiday shoppers are packing local malls for last minute gifts.
And while crowds might not be as full as in years past — with state restrictions limiting capacity to just 20% — there were plenty of points with shoppers standing shoulder to shoulder at Northridge Fashion Center on Monday.
“Certain stores that we wanted to go to were like two hour long lines,” one shopper said.
From the parking lot to the escalators and lines outside stores, it was clear that the coronavirus pandemic has not canceled holiday shopping.
“Seeing people crowded and being in lines, even outside of these stores, concerns me,” Dr. Anu Seshadri, of UCLA Health Century City, said.
And she was not the only local doctor who said it was sobering to see so many people at area malls.
“I expect to see some of those folks in our hospital, and it’s only going to add to the numbers that we are already seeing,” Dr. Victor Waters, chief medical officer at St. Bernadine’s Medical Center.
And whether people are shopping at indoor or outdoor malls, doctors said the risk was there.
“If you are still out there shopping for your loved ones for this holiday season or you’re planning a holiday get together, then you are missing the gravity of the situation,” Dr. Christina Ghaly, director for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, said.
But there are ways that people can minimize their risk if they choose to go shopping.
“Try to make your shopping as efficient as possible,” Seshadri said. “You don’t want to go out there and just look around.”
And experts said people should watch what they touch — including not only door handles and surfaces, but shared items such as pens to sign credit card receipts.
“Simple things like that can make a difference in someone’s potentially getting the COVID virus,” Waters said.
And, doctors said, if it feels like there are too many people in a store to maintain six feet of distance from other people, leave.
“If you feel like that store is too crowded, get out,” Seshadri said.
The doctors also said it was best to add a second mask for those going to the mall and bring plenty of hand sanitizer.