Some Indiana malls may open this weekend with safety protocols in place

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Simon Property Group plans to reopen 49 of their properties between May 1 and May 4, including 10 malls in Indiana.

The company has released details of their reopening strategy on how they plan to keep tenants, employees and customers safe.

Butler University economic professor Bill Rieber said opening up malls during this pandemic can go two ways.

“If this doesn’t work out, those costs will have to be eliminated by shutting down the mall again, and that’s possible,” Rieber said.

He also added that they could be leading the way for more major companies to open up in states where restrictions are lifted.

“Simon Property is taking some risk by doing this, but they have a good reputation in terms of the malls. They’re in a good financial position compared to other mall owners,” Rieber said.

Governor Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home order ends this Friday and is expected to be revised.

“Once the mall opens, we will see how many people walk in. How comfortable do they feel? How many tenants or retailers initially open?” Rieber explained.

According to the detailed plan Simon Property Group provided to FOX59, they have safety protocols in place approved and reviewed by experts.

They will have preemptive employee screening and a one person per 50 square feet of space limitation on occupancy. There will also be spacing in the food courts, and high-interaction spots, like play areas, will be closed for the time being. Security will remind customers to maintain social distancing.

They will also provide hand sanitizer, masks and free temperature testing to customers.

Read the full plan here.

Riverview ER physician in Fishers Dr. Jay Woody doesn’t mind seeing some malls open, but he doesn’t want people to slack of on the CDC recommendations.

“Hand washing, keeping social distancing, making sure you stay away from others and wearing a mask in public,” Dr. Woody said.

He said medical professionals are concerned what could happen with businesses reopening but know the state can’t stay closed forever.

“All of us have to work together to stop this virus. It’s not just you and me, it really is everyone,” Dr. Woody said.

In his professional opinion, Dr. Woody still recommends senior citizens and folks with underlying health issues avoid going out in public for now.

Mall hours will be Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 6 p.m.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett plans to provide additional information this week regarding the city’s COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions.

Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton and Monroe County Health Administrator Penny Caudill responded to the news of Simon potentially opening up College Mall with the following statement:

Mayor Hamilton has been working closely with the Monroe County Health Department (MCHD) to determine best steps for our community. Whether or not Governor Holcomb lifts the Stay-at-Home order May 1, Mayor Hamilton, on the recommendations of Monroe County Health Administrator Penny Caudill, would urge residents to continue exercising CDC guidelines for physical distancing from others, wearing a mask, and other sanitary guidelines; and urge businesses that plan to reopen to refer to OSHA and CDC guidelines to implement spatial parameters within their stores to limit the possibility for transmission. Data the MCHD has been tracking indicates that we are doing a good job of flattening the curve but that any reopening will need to be phased back in over time in a strategic manner to continue limiting the spread of COVID-19.

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