Simon Property Group, owner of Potomac Mills Mall in Woodbridge, plans to reopen 49 of its malls in 10 states starting Friday, although when Potomac Mills will reopen is still unclear.
The reopenings were first reported by CNBC, which obtained a copy of a memo from the company outlining steps the malls will take to help protect from the spread of coronavirus. Simon is the largest mall owner in the country; its Northern Virginia properties also include Fashion Centre at Pentagon City in Arlington and the Leesburg Premium Outlets.
The Virginia malls closed March 18 and originally announced they would reopen March 30, but that reopening was canceled after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered a 30-day closure of all non-essential businesses on March 23 and issued a stay-at-home order on March 30.
The order closing non-essential businesses has been extended until at least May 8, and the stay-at-home order is in effect through June 10.
In the states where malls will reopen this weekend, here are some of the guidelines Simon outlined in the memo, according to CNBC:
- Malls and outlet centers will be open only from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, to allow for cleaning overnight.
- High-touch areas, including food court tables, escalators, door knobs and electronic directories, will be regularly sanitized.
- Shoppers will be encouraged to take their temperatures before visiting the malls, and free temperature testing will be available to customers, using infrared thermometers.
- Free masks and hand sanitizing packets will be available to shoppers who ask for them. Shoppers will be encouraged to to wear masks or some other facial coverings. Simon employees must wear masks while they are working and take “frequent breaks for handwashing.”
- To ensure social distancing can be maintained, the malls will put tape over every other sink and urinal in restrooms, place decals on floors to direct traffic flow, limit food court seating and keep play areas and drinking fountains closed.
- The number of entrances to each property will be limited, and occupancy will not exceed one person per 50 square feet of space.
- Retailers and other tenants will be encouraged to use technology, such as Apple Pay, that allows for contactless transactions.
Retailers and other tenants within the malls will set their own schedules for reopening.
The malls that will reopen between Friday and Monday are in Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.