DALLAS - Malls across North Texas are working to re-open as safely as possible and help businesses and customers follow the rules set by Gov. Greg Abbott.
Malls were one of the businesses that Abbott said could resume operations, at 25 percent capacity, beginning Friday. Now it appears there will likely be different rules and recommendations at different malls depending on management.
“This is not going to be business as usual,” said Angela Freed, General Manager of Galleria Dallas.
Crews at the Dallas mall have already begun to prep for opening, which will be next Monday. That gives the Galleria staff a few extra days to be ready for shoppers.
“This was not a rush to open first for us. It was really more in a way that was doing it so it was safe,” Freed said.
When doors do open, shoppers should expect changes -- like face masks required for all employees and customers.
“Our security team will be wandering throughout the building and making sure that everyone who is here has on a mask,” Freed said. “If they don’t have on a mask we have masks available.”
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Also, not every store in the mall will be open. Operators will be allowed to choose if or when they re-open.
Tables will be removed from the food court, with orders only available to go. Most benches will be gone, only enough left to be ADA compliant. The ice skating rink and children’s place will be closed, as well.
The massive digital board above the ice rink will have reminders about masks and social distancing, as well as signs posted at entrances. Capacity will be monitored in stores and mall common areas.
“We can tell from garage capacity. We also have counters at all of our entrances so we know how many vehicles are driving onto property,” Freed said.
For customers who think it’s too soon to go inside, retail to go is still an option.
“Their safety is our top priority,” Freed said.
Simon Property Group — the largest U.S. mall owner — has several North Texas properties, including Allen and Grand Prairie Premium Outlets, Grapevine Mills Mall and Firewheel Town Center in Garland. All of them are opening on Friday.
Simon says employees are required to wear masks and take their temperature before work. Masks will be encouraged for shoppers, food court seating will be limited as well as sinks and urinals to allow for spacing. Security will also remind customers about social distancing.
A NorthPark Center spokesperson says the mall is still working to figure out when and how it will re-open for business.