STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — After being shuttered for nearly six months, Staten Island’s “economic engine,” the Staten Island Mall, reopened for business on Wednesday amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with more than 50% of the stores eager to greet customers.
“I’m ecstatic,” said James Easley, senior Mall manager. “The Mall is Staten Island’s economic engine. It’s like a small city. …When it was closed, there were so many jobs gone — the retailers, restaurants, landscapers, cleaners, the construction workers, everybody…. It felt so weird to come in here every day. …It’s nice to see people here again.”
The Mall was able to reopen Wednesday after Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave the green light last week for malls in New York City to open at 50% capacity.
Easley said the half capacity will be maintained at the borough’s only indoor mall in New Springville through “people counters,” who are scattered throughout the massive facility. While he couldn’t say what the Mall’s capacity is, he noted that it would be rare if it’s ever been met.
If the Mall population reaches 50% capacity, he said people will be stopped at the entranceways and asked to wait until people leave before entering.
“I get an up-to-the minute count of how many people are in the Mall,” said Easley, noting the shopping center shut down on March 20.
In addition, the Mall installed a new air filtration system that includes 100 high-powered MERV-13 filters, said Easley.
Other protocols include floor stickers and other signage pertaining to social distancing rules and hand-sanitizing dispensers throughout the Mall.
“The MERV-13 filter has been in place even before it was mandated by the state. And we have gallons and gallons of hand sanitizer,” said Easley.
No one can enter the Mall without a mask, and all security guards wear masks. Also, there are no sitting areas at all in the Mall.
The new Mall hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Since retailers were only given the green light to open last week, some have yet to reopen, said Easley. He said the Mall’s website will continue to be updated as the stores open for business.
“Stores opening often depend on how quickly people are able to get people hired back. We were getting ready to open up on July 20, and then it was pushed back,” he said. “I think some of the retailers were waiting to see if this was for real. I think the response has been great. There are more people open today than I thought there would be.”
In fact, by noon on Wednesday it appeared that more than 50% of the Mall’s retailers were welcoming customers, including the Apple store, Zales, Kay Jeweler’s, Gerard Peter’s, Skechers, Bath and Body Works, Michael Kors and so many more.