TAMPA, Fla.— Malls across the Tampa Bay area continue to reopen this week. On Wednesday, International Plaza in Tampa opened its doors to shoppers with new measures in place to keep everyone healthy.
“We employ at the mall over 3,000 people, so knowing that all of those people weren’t going to be able to come to work is obviously a challenge, but we’re thrilled that we’re able to open and get so many of those people back in our doors,” said Lindsay Grinstead, Director of Marketing and Sponsorship for International Plaza.
All mall employees are required to wear face masks and guests are encouraged to do the same. The mall placed hand sanitizer stations in different areas and also has signs reminding people of social distancing.
Seating in the food court has been cut by 75 percent and food trays are no longer available.
“We’ve increased our housekeeping, so we’re cleaning in high-touch areas every two hours with a more powerful cleaning disinfectant, as well as increasing our soaps in our bathrooms and having a bathroom attendant to make sure the bathrooms are being cleaned on a regular basis,” said Grinstead.
The mall closed in March and on Wednesday, not all stores inside the mall had opened back up. International Plaza is updating a list as to which stores are open. Ashlee Rockhill is a manager for BCBG Maxazria, and she thinks they won’t open for another two weeks.
“While our location here is technically open, we wouldn’t have the corporate support to support a store opening," said Rockhill. "Even something as simple as if our registers go down, I wouldn’t have anybody to call and contact."
Shoppers on opening day noticed the extra precautions mall staff are taking to prevent the spread during the COVID-19 outbreak. People were seen wearing masks and gloves, even waiting in lines to get into stores to maximize social distancing.
International Plaza also started a “Park and Stay” option for shoppers who don’t want to come inside the mall. Staff ask shoppers to look at a list of participating retailers first.
“The shopper can order their product, come and park in designated parking spots in our parking lot. They’re color-coded and numbered. When they arrive at International Plaza, they can call that retailer, and the retailer can deliver that product to their car,” said Grinstead.
The Mall at University Town Center in Sarasota also opened Wednesday morning. Both malls have reduced hours. Tampa Premium Outlets and Tyrone Square reopened Monday. WestShore Plaza will plans to open Friday, May 8 with limited hours, while Westfield shopping centers in Tampa will reopen starting Friday, May 15.