The biggest mall operator in the United States is preparing to reopen 49 malls in 10 states where stay-at-home orders are expected to be eased amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Simon Property Group detailed its plan for reopening in a memo posted on its website. Malls in Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee will reopen Friday. Locations in Oklahoma will reopen on Saturday, while three others in Indiana will open their doors to customers on Monday.
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But customers should expect some major changes. People are advised to take their temperature before going shopping, wear masks and observe social distancing rules, according to the memo.
"Our employees and security officers will actively remind and encourage shoppers to maintain the proper distance from fellow shoppers and workers, and refrain from shopping in groups. Tenants should do the same within their leased spaces," the memo says.
Simon Property adds that it is targeting one person per 50 square feet of space.
"As needed, we will restrict the number of open entrances to the property while complying with local fire code requirements, and have queueing protocols in place to manage traffic," the memo says.
Play areas and drinking fountains will be shut down for the foreseeable future to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Shoppers should also expect some other changes to the mall experience. Every other bathroom sink and urinal will be blocked to encourage people to keep their distance.
The food court will also look different. Customers can sit at certain tables, but they won't be given reusable items, including trays, utensils and cups, according to the memo.
"Each night, the common area of the property will be thoroughly sanitized and disinfected using products that meet or exceed CDC guidelines. Each retailer should do the same for their store," the memo says. "Additionally, during mall hours, we will regularly sanitize and disinfect high touchpoint areas, including restrooms, seating areas, escalator/stair handrails, trash bins, door knobs and handles, directories, food court tables and chairs, etc. Each tenant should perform the appropriate cleaning of their space."
The reopening of shopping malls in some states comes one week after some salons in Georgia reopened, providing a potential blueprint for what salon experiences might be like in the future as states begin to gradually reopen.