By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @SSDispatch
Posted: May 21, 2020 | 2:45 p.m.
Social distancing, masks required for mall staff among efforts
REGION – Late last week, Southpark Mall reopened its doors for the first time since March as the first phase of Governor Ralph Northam’s business reopening plan begins to roll out for a majority of the Commonwealth.
The nearly 100-tenant mall has changed its operating hours to 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Individual store hours and restaurant operations may vary inside the Colonial Heights mall so it is recommended patrons call ahead to confirm an individual store or restaurants’ hours.
“The health and well-being of our customers, employees, retail partners, and the communities we serve is always a top priority,” mall officials stated. “As such, we have implemented a number of protective measures to keep our employees, retail partners, and community health. We are closely monitoring updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and will follow guidelines put into place by the CDC as well as other local health and governmental agencies. We ask that the public exercise good judgment when visiting the property; including following CDC guidelines for social distancing and hygiene practices. We also ask that anyone with a fever or experiencing other symptoms, to stay home.”
Colonial Heights’ Southpark Mall is one of several dozen shopping centers owned by CBL Properties based out of Chattanooga, Tennessee who, during an update to investors last month, revealed COVID-19 had forced the closure of a majority of their facilities in accordance with local and state government directives.
In March, Governor Northam ordered businesses deemed nonessential by state officials to close their doors as cases of COVID-19 began to surge across the Commonwealth. The directive affected a large swath of businesses, including stores who mainly sold clothing and others who didn’t sell essentials, like food, water, and supplies that could be utilized during the stay-at-home orders.
Nearly two months after that order, Northam has begun to ease some of those restrictions on business operations. The first phase of his “Forward Virginia” statewide business reopening plan allows for nonessential retail businesses to resume sales but with half of their store’s occupancy. Barber shops and beauty salons are also allowed to begin taking clients again only through appointments.
All businesses, including those who have been allowed to remain open through COVID-19, such as large department stores, electronics retailers, and state-run liquor stores, are required to adhere to strict social distancing, providing employees with proper personal protective equipment like masks, and maintaining good cleaning habits inside their businesses.
Southpark Mall’s management team detailed some of the measures being put in place to keep shoppers and employees safe as the mall resumes operations, noting further efforts may be implemented based on updated recommendations from the CDC, the local health department, or other governmental agencies.
1. Following all applicable guidelines set forth by local officials and/or health departments.
2. Encouraging everyone on property to follow social distancing guidelines.
3. Prohibiting groups of more than 10 people congregating in the mall common area.
4. Cancelling or postponing all mall events until further notice.
5. Limiting the amount of available food court seating to comply with social distancing guidelines.
6. Closing the following public gathering areas: Children’s play area, soft seating areas, common area gathering spaces, and drinking fountains.
7. Requiring mall management staff to wear masks while in common areas, public spaces, or when other individuals are present.
8. Requiring all vendors and contractors to wear masks in the common areas, public spaces, or when other people are present.
9. Encouraging our retailers to provide their employees with masks and that employees wear masks while interacting with others, when in the mall common area or public spaces.
10. Placing hand sanitizer units throughout the property.
11. Conducting temperature checks on all mall management, security, and janitorial staff upon the start of each shift and requiring anyone with a fever of 100.4 F or higher and/or anyone experiencing other symptoms to return home and contact their healthcare providers.
12. Increasing the frequency of cleaning and sanitizing all high-traffic common areas with an enhanced focus on all touchpoints with CDC-recommended cleaning agents.
13. Requiring each store and restaurant to follow applicable guidelines set forth by relevant government orders; which could include but are not limited to occupancy restrictions, social distancing markers in checkout lines, cleaning and sanitizing procedures, and the closure of fitting rooms.
For more information on Southpark Mall’s reopening, visit the mall’s website at http://southparkmall.com. Their site features a portal that lists stores and restaurants that may be open but as of press time, the list had not been updated save for a trio of restaurants that were providing takeout service during the mall’s shutdown.
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