Five Austin-area malls are reopening this weekend in response to Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order allowing restaurants, movie theaters, and malls to begin operations.
In an April 28 internal memo, Simon Property Group, the corporation that locally owns Barton Creek Square, The Domain, Lakeline Mall, Round Rock Premium Outlets, and San Marcos Premium Outlets, outlined its opening plan for Friday, May 1. Simon closed its properties on March 18 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The memo was first obtained by CNBC and the New York Times.
Simon, which owns hundreds of properties across the U.S., including high-profile spots like the Copley in Boston and Houston's Galleria, outlines health and safety provisions for "employees, contractors, vendors, and shoppers." While the actual properties will be open as of Friday, tenants must decide if individual stores will open their doors.
For Simon employees returning to work, the memo mandates that they should take their temperature prior to coming to work. If their internal temp exceeds 100.4 degrees or the person is exhibiting flu-like symptoms, they are expected to quarantine at home for at least 72 hours. Workers must also wear face masks while on the property and wash their hands frequently.
The corporation also suggests that tenants (aka retailers, restaurants, department stores, etc.) enact similar policies for their employees and encourages shoppers to also take their temperatures prior to heading out. Once inside, shoppers should maintain the suggested six feet of social distancing at all times and wear a face mask.
Along with personal measures, the property group is also enacting the following safety protocols:
- Limiting the number of people in a space (in Austin and across Texas, an enclosed public space must not exceed a 25 percent occupancy rate)
- Reconfiguring furniture, including in food courts, to maintain distance
- Closing play areas, stroller areas, valets, and water fountains
- Closing off every other restroom stall
- Adding temporary signage
Simon says it will also be disinfecting high-traffic and common areas, and encourages individual shops to do the same. Face masks and sanitation wipes will be provided upon request.
In total, Simon will reopen 49 properties over the weekend, including 21 in Texas.