America’s Largest Mall Owner Is Reopening Locations Across the US — What It’s Doing to Keep Shoppers Safe

As states begin to ease restrictions, Simon Property Group is reportedly preparing to reopen a portion of its fleet.

According to an internal memo obtained by CNBC, the mall owner has plans to reopen 49 of its units between Friday and Monday. With a fleet of more than 100 malls and about 70 outlets, Simon is the largest operator of shopping centers in the U.S., but all of its doors have been shut since mid-March due to the coronavirus outbreak. (A representative from Simon did not immediately respond to FN’s request for comment for this story.)

As doors reopen, Simon is taking a number of steps to prevent coronavirus transmissions, according to CNBC. Hand sanitizer and masks will be available for free for customers who ask for them, and the mall owner is encouraging shoppers to wear face coverings. Employees, meanwhile, will be required to wear masks.

Further, Simon will be limiting the number of entrances at each location, and will keep occupancy to one person per 50 square feet or fewer, says CNBC. The company is putting marks on its floors to direct traffic flow, keeping play areas and water fountains shut and limiting seating in foot courts and sinks in bathrooms.

What’s more, Simon is planning to operate on a limited schedule to allow for cleaning overnight, with doors open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, according to CNBC. The mall owner also plans to regularly clean high-touch spaces within its units, including escalators, door knobs and food court tables.

“[B]ecause of the COVID-19 pandemic and its related impact,” Simon announced earlier this month that it was cutting pay for executives, with CEO and president David Simon to forfeit his base pay for the time being. Further, a March 31 report — which Simon did not confirm — said that the company planned to furlough a third of its full-time and part-time workers as outposts remain closed due to the coronavirus.

Simon’s reported precautions are similar to measures implemented by essential retailers that have stayed open throughout the pandemic. For instance, Walmart is requiring all employees to wear masks and is checking their temperatures. Additionally, the chain has reduced store hours to allow for increased cleaning and restocking and has installed social distance markers and sneeze guards within its stores. The chain has also reduced the capacity of its stores to about 20%. Meanwhile, Target has begun to actively monitor and limit shopper traffic across its outposts. The retailer has also started providing face masks and gloves to its store associates and distribution center workers and has added Plexiglass partitions at its registers.

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