CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Starting Saturday, Simon Properties including SouthPark Mall, Concord Mills Mall, and Charlotte Premium Outlets will all reopen for the first time since March.
While that’s good news for some, others think its too soon. Some small business owners also argue if the malls can reopen, then they should be able to as well.
Simon Properties announced with the reopening there will some safety changes like preemptive screenings for employees, requiring all employees to wear face masks and wash their hands often, and limit overall mall occupancy.
Eastridge Mall in Gastonia opened Friday at 5 p.m.
General Manager Steve Stout said they are taking several safety precautions including: signage to promote social distancing, closing common areas like the food court and community couches. On Friday, about 25-30 stores were open for four hours in the mall. More are expected to open starting Saturday.
In Georgia, malls reopened today and the lines wrapped the outside of Atlanta’s Lenox Mall.
Inside, most shoppers adhered to the social distancing guidelines following the arrows to help direct traffic flow along with making use of the hand sanitizer dispensers and wearing face masks of their own.
Yet even with the mall reopened, about 75% of the stores inside the mall were still closed.
“You can order essentials like clothes and shoes everything you can get at the mall online now, but as a small business owner we’re not essentially so it’s so frustrating,” says Lauren Makela, owner of Bliss Facial and Massage Studio.
She says the steps now being taken to keep the mall safe from the spread of COVID-19 could also be applied to small businesses, which is why she argues they should be allowed to reopen too.
“It’s almost like a slap in the face that these big box corporations can go ahead and open where I can screen my clients safely and I’m in control of the sanitation that goes on in our building," Makela said.
In the meantime, there’s no exact date when Makela and others will be able to get back to business.
Once the malls in our area reopen on Saturday be sure to check Simon Properties website to see what specific stores are actually open.
MORE ON WCNC CHARLOTTE: