MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Thousands of Minnesotans will return to work as we “turn the dials” on reopening the state.
The new “Stay Safe Minnesota” order relaxes the rules, allowing small gatherings of 10 or fewer people. But state leaders advise people to wear masks and practice social distancing.
Non-essential businesses like retail stores can also reopen at half capacity if they have a safety plan.
WCCO checked throughout the metro, and found several malls plan to reopen for in-store shoppers Monday. But these centers of commerce won’t look like they used to, including Rosedale Center.
Employees are required to wear masks, while customers are encouraged — but it is not mandatory, according to marketing director Sarah Fossen.
“Our shopper and employee and retailer safety is a number-one priority,” Fossen said.
There are a host of changes to try to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Guests will only be allowed in the northeast entrance. There will be hand sanitizer throughout the mall. And signs encouraging social distancing will be on display.
But there are no touchscreen mall directories, no child play area and no walking program. As of Sunday night, only 25 stores in the mall were ready to reopen out of roughly 200.
“In addition to the mall having to follow CDC guidelines and Minnesota guidelines, each individual store also has a set of rigorous guidelines that they need to meet,” Fossen said.
Retail has been hit hard during the pandemic. The United States Census Bureau says clothing store sales were down almost 90% in April, compared to the same month last year.
University of Minnesota marketing professor George John says before the pandemic, malls were pushing experiences to get people to come in and shop. Now, he says we could see them have to get creative with social distancing entertainment.
“Everyone is sick of sitting at home, so you’re likely to see a bubble when you release all these restrictions, but we’ll likely come back to some kind of normality,” John said.
There could also be reduction in people who are older and higher risk who want to go in stores.
“It’s not the young people that keep the especially higher-end retailers alive,” John said. “It’s the folks with money.”
Rosedale Center is also reducing its hours, so they have time to properly clean each day. The mall will open at 11 a.m. Monday morning.
Not all malls will open Monday. Maplewood and Northtown malls will wait until Thursday, and Mall of America will reopen June 1.
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