malls

Waiting in Line for the Mall? How Shopping Might Change After Reopening

Expect spread-out seating, masks and no reusable trays in the food court

NBC Universal, Inc.

When malls can reopen after coronavirus pandemic-related closures, expect them to look different.

A planning document on the website of Simon Property Group - which owns local shopping centers including the King of Prussia and Philadelphia Mills malls - details big changes for some of its properties.

None of the 49 shopping centers that this document specifically refers to are in our area. Most are in Texas, Georgia or Indiana, which have announced or are expected to announce plans to lift their coronavirus stay-at-home orders soon.

But the document provides a blueprint for what reopening at some of our region's largest malls could look like, when that occurs.

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Business hours will be reduced to allow for additional time to clean each night. The food court will not have reusable items like trays available. In some traffic "hot spots" seating will be removed or spread apart. And in general, customers and employees will be expected to spread out.

A Simon representative did return a request for comment Wednesday.

Layout changes

Several "high-interaction areas" like play areas, kiddie rides, drinking fountains and stroller and valet stations will be temporarily closed to avoid risking the spread of the virus there.

Simon also plans to measure foot traffic and occupancy so that it doesn't exceed 1 person per 50 square feet of space. The company plans to set up queue lines so if the mall is at occupancy, customers can wait outside. Customers can also wait in their cars.

Some entrances will be restricted. And there will be arrows and floor decals encouraging lanes of customer traffic, with reminders to keep 6 feet away from others.

In restrooms, every other sink and urinal will be taped off to encourage spacing between people. One part of the document showed a bench with a middle portion taped off, creating two segments and a space between people.

Mall Workers

Workers must not report to work if they experience symptoms within 72 hours before the start of their shift, the document says. Anyone reporting to work should get a temperature check, and anyone with a body temperature of 100.4 or above would be asked to return home.

Employees will also be expected to maintain a distance of six feet or more from customers while working.

Customers

Customers will be encouraged to wear masks or face coverings while shopping, and Simon will provide free CDC-approved masks and sanitizing wipes upon request.

The document says Simon will also offer optional temperature checks for shoppers, using infrared thermometers.

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