ATLANTA — Simon Property Group, the largest mall owner in the United States, is beginning to reopen several properties, according to a report from CNBC.
The news agency obtained an internal memo that said they had plans to open 49 of its malls and outlet centers starting on Friday.
In Georgia, seven properties will open, including Calhoun Outlet Marketplace, Lenox Square, Mall of Georgia, North Georgia Prime Outlets, Phipps Plaza, Sugarloaf Mills and Town Center at Cobb, the memo said.
Char Magdangal thinks it is too soon for the malls to reopen. She's worked in luxury retail for 16 years. "We haven't really flattened the curve yet. It's a risk, it's definitely a risk," Magdangal said. She's been on furlough since the shutdown happened.
The pandemic sent an already struggling industry into a complete nose dive. Many retailers are behind on rent and some on the verge of closing for good. The reopening is needed to boost the economy and save already struggling department stores.
High end retailer Neiman Narcus is expected to file bankruptcy any day now, making it the first department store casualty of covid-19.
"This pandemic has just accelerated what might have taken an additional 5 or 10 years and compressed it into a few months," said Ryan Hamilton, associate professor at Emory University.
Still Magdangal is optimistic stores will survive. "People still want that experience they still want that one on one contact," she said. "Retail will just have to evolve with the needs of the customers and whatever it is the customers feel comfortable with."
Gov. Brian Kemp began reopening the state's economy last Friday when bowling alleys, tattoo parlors, gyms, spas and salons were able to conduct business. On Monday, restaurants were given the green light for dine-in service.
A stay-at-home order remains in effect until midnight on April 30. Kemp said he would detail in the coming days how things would look when that expires.
In the memo, they said hours would be limited to 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, to allow for cleaning overnight.
Simon Property Group, according to the memo, said free temperature testing would be available to customers and that they would provide CDC-approved masks and sanitizer to shoppers. Employees will be required to wear face masks.
The memo, CNBC reported, also stated that it would take additional measures in the malls, including, but not limited to:
- Limit the number of entrances
- Limiting the sinks and urinals in restrooms to every other one
- Placing decals on floors to direct traffic flow
- Limiting food court seating
- Play areas to remain closed
When reached by email, a representative from Perimeter Mall's ownership said they are "closely monitoring" the situation and "diligently working" on plans to reopen.
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