All the ways shopping malls will look different once they reopen

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Coronavirus and Malls: What to Expect When Shopping Centers Reopen

Coronavirus and Malls: What to Expect When Shopping Centers Reopen

Less stores, lots of signs
All the ways shopping malls will look different once they reopen

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With several states reopening after the stay-at-home order phase of coronavirus precautions, your local shopping mall will undoubtedly look different than when you last visited. As they reopen, malls will implement new safety measures to ensure the health and wellbeing of customers and employees. Based on available guidelines from Mall of America, a top U.S. tourist attraction, and Simon Property Group, the largest shopping mall operator in the U.S., here’s what you can expect from your next mall visit.

Occupancy may be limited

Occupancy may be limited

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In accordance with the latest Minnesota health order, Mall of America will limit occupancy to 50% capacity. To limit virus spread, malls owned by Simon Property Group will be limited to a maximum density of 50 square feet per person. Tenants must also follow occupancy levels mandated by state and local authorities.

Queuing will be key

Queuing will be key

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Should a mall or individual store reach full capacity, much like grocery stores during the pandemic, queuing will become essential. Guests may be asked to wait in their cars or stand in queue lines outside while spaced 6 feet apart to maintain social distancing.

Security may enforce social distancing

Security may enforce social distancing

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On-property security at Simon malls will actively remind and encourage customers to comply with social distancing practices when inside the mall.

Store closures mean fewer stores

Store closures mean fewer stores

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Due to the economic effects of the pandemic, expect to see fewer stores open inside your local mall. Coresight Research estimates that 20,000 to 25,000 stores could permanently close in the U.S. this year, with 55% to 60% of those closures in malls.

Shops may use plexiglass dividers

Shops may use plexiglass dividers

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Plexiglass dividers will be installed at the Mall of America to create separation between staff and customers. Retailers such as Bath & Body Works, which has many mall locations, will also install plexiglass shields at its registers. Other malls and individual tenants will likely follow suit.

There will be lots of signage

There will be lots of signage

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To further enforce social distancing, visual cues like digital signs and reminders may be placed throughout reopened malls to encourage proper cough and sneeze etiquette and hand hygiene.

Masks may be required and free

Masks may be required and free

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Some states with more coronavirus restrictions have implemented face mask or cloth face covering requirements in public spaces. At Simon malls, free masks and sanitizing wipe packets will be available to shoppers at designated entrances or the mall office.

Sampling of products will be limited

Sampling of products will be limited

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Samples or tester products available at beauty stores may be limited. Popular makeup store Sephora, for example, has announced that as stores reopen, testers are for display only and sampling will be limited to commercially prepackaged samples.

Return policies can change

Return policies can change

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Common shopping mall stores like Kohl’s and Macy’s have extended their return policies during the outbreak, giving shoppers more time to feel comfortable making returns. 

Self-service transactions will be common

Self-service transactions will be common

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New protocols will minimize interactions between shoppers and employees. When making transactions at reopened Simon properties, customers should utilize credit card receptacles without exchanging the card with an employee. Employees may also sanitize their hands between customers. Still, make sure to clean your credit card before heading out shopping.

Water fountains will likely be disabled

Water fountains will likely be disabled

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Like at reopened gyms, public drinking fountains may be closed for mall customers.

Elevator space may be limited

Elevator space may be limited

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At Mall of America, elevator capacity will be limited to one person or party per cab. Simon properties will limit occupancy to no more than four people per cab. Limiting elevator occupancy is also one way offices will look different post-coronavirus.

You might hear PA announcements

You might hear PA announcements

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Your local mall’s PA system may play the occasional public announcements reminding you to take necessary precautions and practice social distancing to save lives.

Strollers and play areas may no longer be available

Strollers and play areas may no longer be available

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Simon Property Group no longer allows stroller rentals or open children play places. Parents can instead help their children burn off energy with at-home summer activities.

Wheelchairs will be thoroughly cleaned

Wheelchairs will be thoroughly cleaned

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At the Mall of America, strollers along with wheelchairs and electric scooters will be available. However, they will be disinfected using an electric disinfectant sprayer and other cleaning supplies before and after each use.

Valet service may be halted

Valet service may be halted

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If you’re used to using valet services at your mall, it’s time to practice parking. Malls that offer valet parking, including some Simon properties, may suspend the service to reduce person-to-person contact. 

Seating will be limited

Seating will be limited

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All that exercise walking in the mall can make you tired, but know shopping center seating may be limited. Public seating areas may be reduced or reconfigured to allow for minimum separation of 6 feet between guests.

Hours of operation may be reduced

Hours of operation may be reduced

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Mall business hours may be reduced to allow for extensive cleaning and sanitizing during off hours. Reopened chain restaurants have also cut operating hours for the same reason.

Hand sanitizer will be everywhere

Hand sanitizer will be everywhere

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Though not as effective as washing your hands, hand sanitizer gets the job done in a pinch. Expect to see hand sanitizer dispensers, ideally touchless, all over your local mall once it reopens.

Restrooms will look different

Restrooms will look different

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Restrooms will look different in reopened malls too. In Simon Property Group malls, every other sink and urinal in a restroom will be taped off to encourage proper spacing.

The food court will look different too

The food court will look different too

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Restaurants had to make all sorts of changes during the coronavirus pandemic. At reopened mall food courts, anticipate reset or reduced seating capacities to allow for a minimum of 6 feet between each seated group. These new hurdles are what is required to grab an Auntie Anne’s pretzel, an order of Panda Express orange chicken or more classic mall grub from the best food court restaurants

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