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In addition to our normal news coverage, What Now Atlanta is tracking ways Atlanta’s businesses are adapting to the novel coronavirus and the challenges it brings to brick-and-mortars.
Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group is no longer reopening its Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza malls in Buckhead today as originally planned.
The reopenings have instead been pushed to Monday, May 4 which is when the shopping center’s department stores are expected to come back online, Lenox Mall management in a telephone conversation Friday confirmed with What Now Atlanta.
Both malls have been temporarily closed as per an Executive Order out of the Governor’s office for Georgians to “shelter-in-place.”
That order expired yesterday for most Georgians.
Simon is, however, reopening its Calhoun Outlet Marketplace, at 455 Belwood Rd, and North Georgia Premium Outlets, as of today, according to a press release.
As part of the reopening process, Simon published its COVID-19 Exposure Control Policy, “developed in conjunction with a team of leading experts in the fields of Epidemiology and Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), in order to deliver an elevated set of safety standards at their properties.”
Simon’s safety protocols have been communicated to all tenants, who are expected to adhere to the same policies in their tenant spaces.
Additionally, the properties have joined forces with local non-profits to support initiatives aimed at assisting those experiencing hardship as a result of COVID-19.
“The health, safety, and well-being of those we serve will always be our highest priority, and we have developed a thorough and detailed set of protocols highlighting the exceptional measures we’ve implemented to safeguard shoppers, retailers and employees as we reopen,” John Rulli, president of Simon, said in the release.
“We also recognize that individuals and families in our communities are suffering significant hardship as a result of both COVID-19 and the economic shutdown, and we believe that reopening our properties will not only help people get back to work during these challenging times, but also enable us to use our properties to further support charitable initiatives.”
Here are the new safety measures:
- Enhanced sanitization and disinfecting using the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) approved products with an emphasis on high-traffic locations such as dining areas, restrooms, escalators, stairs, directories, trash bins, and doorknobs.
- Shopper safeguards that include making available protective masks, sanitizing wipes and temperature testing at entrances or property offices, as well as the encouragement of previsit health screenings to ensure shoppers stay home if they have exhibited COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms within 72 hours.
- Hand sanitizing stations will be deployed throughout the properties.
- Signage promoting CDC guidelines for maintaining personal hygiene will be prominently displayed throughout the properties.
- Pre-emptive employee health screening to ensure that employees do not arrive at work within 72 hours of exhibiting COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms.
- Employee safety protections including implementing the CDC’s COVID-19 frequent handwashing protocols, and offering personal protective equipment in addition to other CDC recommended practices.
- Promotion and enforcement of social distancing practices, including occupancy limitations, furniture and restroom spacing, closure of play areas and strollers, as well as coordinated traffic flow with traffic signage and distance markers.
All Simon properties closed on March 19 in order to address the spread of COVID-19.
“Reopening provides a much-needed economic boost to the local communities impacted by COVID-19,” according to the release, as “the properties are important economic engines for their local communities, providing more than 1,600 jobs and contributing $18.8 million of sales tax and $567,000 in property tax revenue to the State.”
In addition to reopening, Simon has launched a national initiative to host food banks, clothing donations, COVID-19 mobile testing, and blood drives as part of an outreach to 1,300 health providers, government agencies, and non-profits.
NAP is expected to do the same at its Colony Square property soon.
[Editor’s note: The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is rapidly evolving as is its effect on Atlanta, and the City’s businesses and its residents. Click here for What Now Atlanta’s ongoing coverage of the crisis. For guidance and updates on the pandemic, please visit the C.D.C. website.]