Mohammad Salim wore a face mask and bright blue rubber gloves when he was staffing the Planet Cell kiosk around noon Friday, May 29, at the almost deserted Del Amo Mode Center.
This is the first time the extensive Torrance mall – which usually attracts many buyers from across South Bay – has opened since orders to stay at home closed it and other retail locations more than two months ago as a way to stem the spread of coronavirus.
LA County officials give retailers OK to welcome customers earlier this week.
But most stores in Del Amo remain closed, including major anchors such as Nordstrom and Macy’s. Mall security guards and maintenance employees easily outnumber alert and masked buyers, most of whom carefully distance themselves from each other.
“Today there are no customers for me,” said Salim. “Nothing’s coming out.”
And it was clear from the gradual stirring of the vast mall, which stretched 1.5 miles along the heart of Hawthorne Boulevard – long considered one of the most profitable areas for retailers in Southern California – that increased economic activity would take longer than to stop arriving -tiba.
Before the store can be opened, under the new health guidelines, they must ensure they can maintain the safety of employees and customers, by implementing social distance measures and ensuring all workers have a mask.
Mal announced the reopening on his Facebook page cheerfully “We’re Open,” but the picture accompanying the happy family holding a shopping bag – without a mask – sparked some critical comments.
“Why aren’t those people wearing masks in your photo?” asked Pam Lewis-Nunez. “No, thank you, if that’s what you’re promoting.”
Actually, a face mask – and not just a face cloth for the mouth and nose, according to the mall security director – is needed to enter the mall.
“The health, safety and welfare of the people we serve will always be our top priority,” General Manager Nathan Svihlik said in a press release. “We have developed a detailed and detailed set of protocols highlights the extraordinary steps we have taken for buyers, retailers and employees when we reopen. “
These steps mean that buyers will face a mall environment that is very different from what it was before, including:
- Free cleaning of tissues and masks for shoppers at the mall entrance;
- A corridor with a signboard indicating the buyer must walk;
- Limitation of occupancy in the shop; and
- There is no open play or dining area in the food court, where most fast food restaurants close on Fridays;
It is unclear when most stores in the mall will reopen, with many Fridays there is no sign on the door showing the date of return.
An officer operating the pickup booth outside Nordstrom said the shop was expected to open “within a few weeks.”
That can’t come soon the economy was hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Del Amo, for example, was once the largest mall in the country, contributing $ 54.5 million in sales tax revenue and supporting more than 5,200 jobs.
But that could be a long way to go, said Sheri Messerlian, executive vice president of NAI Capital South Bay, a veteran local commercial real estate broker.
“I count 76,000 square feet of empty space at the Del Amo Fashion Center now,” he sent an email earlier this month, adding words that might have been known beforehand. “What’s in stores starting from here for retail, one can only guess.”
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