Los Angeles Malls Reopen After COVID-19 Closures

Westfield Santa Anita. Image courtesy Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield

After long months of COVID-19 closures, a number of Los Angeles County indoor malls reopened Oct. 7, but they were required to reopen at a limited capacity.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health gave a green light for indoor malls to reopen on Sept. 30. However, the health department told mall retailers that they must restrict capacity of indoor crowds to 25 percent of pre-pandemic consumer traffic, according to health department statements.

Los Angeles area malls reopening included Beverly Center, owned by Taubman Centers, and the Glendale Galleria, owned by the Brookfield Properties Retail Group. Also reopening were Westfield Culver City, Westfield Fashion Square, Westfield Santa Anita, Westfield Topanga and Westfield Valencia, all of which are owned by Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield.

During the past few months, the strict closure rules had exceptions. Retailers with outside entrances to indoor malls, such as department stores, were allowed to open their doors to the public. There was a brief window of time when indoor malls were able to stay open starting in late May. But many were closed due to civil unrest.

Then, on July 13, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered indoor malls throughout most of the state closed due to surges in COVID-19 cases. Outdoor malls such as the Caruso-owned Los Angeles County properties The Grove and Palisades Village were allowed to stay open during the pandemic.

Statements from L.A. County indoor malls said that the lessons learned from the past few months of COVID closures would continue. Many malls would continue curbside pickup programs whereby consumers could make arrangements with retailers to pick up goods at mall curbsides.

Mall operators all guaranteed that they would continue to require their consumers to wear face coverings and observe social distancing, according to statements to the press and on website messages.

Malls have installed hand-sanitizer stations, and mall managers also promised a greater frequency of cleaning of high-touch areas.

Not every retailer at area malls confirmed that they had opened by Oct. 7. However, the veteran fashion boutique Traffic was one of the stores that reopened at the Beverly Center. Michael Dovan, Traffic’s owner, said he believed there was a lot of pent-up demand.

“I feel that people want to go out to shop and to eat. But it will be a more cautious environment,” Dovan said.