Some North Texas malls are preparing to reopen on Friday after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott lifted restrictions on shopping centers. In the state of Texas, malls can re-open May 1 so long as they limit occupancy to 25%.
While some are choosing to remain closed until next week to allow more time to prepare, others are opening today in limited capacity.
Simon Property Group, the country’s largest mall owner, plans to reopen seven of its North Texas locations Friday.
According to Simon’s website, the following locations will re-open Friday: Allen Premium Outlets, Firewheel Town Center in Garland, Grand Prairie Premium Outlets, Grapevine Mills, North East Mall in Hurst, The Shops at Clearfork in Fort Worth and University Park Village in Fort Worth.
To reopen their malls, Simon Property Group posted a list of steps online they are taking to improve safety and encourage physical distancing that includes requiring employees to wear masks and encouraging shoppers to do the same.
The company said they’ll provide free, CDC-approved masks and sanitizing wipe packets to customers upon request and free temperature testing will be available.
The company said malls will limit the number of entrances, food court seating will be limited and spaced further apart, play areas will remain closed and in restrooms every other urinal and sink will be taped off. Shopping centers will also limit their hours to allow for daily, deep cleaning.
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Meantime, NorthPark Center in Dallas will also be reopening today at 10 a.m on a limited basis. Select retailers will continue to offer NorthPark To Go as an alternative shopping convenience.
Not all NorthPark tenants are planning to open on May 1. The shopping center has a regularly updated list of stores that are open posted on its website. A list of stores that will still be operating in a to-go format only is also posted online.
Entry to NorthPark is also now limited to two locations—the North Red Lot and the South Blue Lot. NorthPark To Go will now only be available in these two locations as well.
Employees will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and will be required to have their temperature taken every day. All customers and employees are required to wear face coverings to enter the building. Hand sanitizer stations are available throughout the common area and people will not be allowed to sit on public tables, chairs and benches.
Galleria Dallas is waiting until Monday to open up it’s doors. It will also be requiring all shoppers and employees to wear a face mask.
“We didn’t really decide on Monday, it was just the date that we felt he would be ready,” said general manager Angie Freed. “We didn’t want it to be a rush to be the first ones to get open, but we wanted to make sure that we carefully reviewed all of our safety protocols and made sure that our building was safe to enter.”
Freed said they brought in an industrial hygienist to certify the building and check the surfaces to make sure their cleaning standards were at the highest level, which took a few days to complete.
“And just because we say the shopping center is open does not mean that all retailers will be open. It is up to each individual retailer to make a decision about whether or not they want to open,” she said, adding that some stores have chosen to continue to operate retail to-go services.
To encourage physical distancing, the shopping center said food place seating will be removed and all food place items must be taken to-go along with common seating areas removed or spaced further apart. It is up to individual retailers if they chose to re-open and stores can continue to provide retail-to-go options through a pickup location in front of the Westin Hotel.
The 25% capacity limit applies to the entire mall and each store. There will be signs and markers on the ground instructing customers where to stand if waiting in line for service.
“We have a vehicle counters, so will count vehicles and will know approximately how many people we have in the building based on those counts. We’ll also have people visually inspecting our garages and can tell when we’re at about 25 percent,” she said.
Those malls have established hand-sanitizing stations, touch-free interactions, frequent cleanings and social distancing directions. The food courts will be closed for seating.
“We are working diligently to provide safe, clean environments where people feel comfortable shopping, dining and enjoying their time,” Brookfield Properties said in a statement. “The safety and well-being of our retail partners and shoppers is of the utmost importance. As our centers prepare for this ‘new normal,’ we are thankful for the opportunity to reopen our doors and look forward to welcoming guests back into our properties.”
In Denton, Golden Triangle Mall will also open on Friday at 11 a.m.