VIENNA, W.Va. (WTAP) - UPDATE: 5/22/20
As more and more businesses reopen and West Virginia, so too has the Grand Central Mall.
"The mall management staff as a whole, we feel great. We feel prepared to welcome everyone back in. We feel we're prepared safely to welcome everybody back in," said Mindy Fluharty, Area Marketing Director for Grand Central Mall.
Other than for our interview, WTAP was asked not to film inside of the mall. But, we were able to look around while inside.
The mall has guidelines officials are asking people follow which are posted around the building; and for the most part those guidelines appeared to be followed. Those guidelines include staying six feet apart and a recommendation to wear cloth masks. Not everyone was wearing masks, but those working inside the mall noticeably did.
Mall officials say they're taking precautions in the food court as well.
"We have spaced out the tables, six feet apart. And then we have signage saying the reason for the move is social distancing. And when you are at our food court tenants, you'll notice little dots, and those are for social distancing as well," said Fluharty.
While the mall itself has reopened, not every business in it is open yet.
"Today we have over 30 percent of our occupancy here. Stores like Belk have an external entrance not a mall entrance. A lot of our specialty tenants like work of heart, you'll see open. But stores will kind of come in on their own, on their own schedule. They have different protocols and guidelines that they have to go by to open safely," said Fluharty.
Some stores are operating on slightly different hours from the mall too. But, mall officials said they haven't heard of any businesses closing for good due to COVID-19.
Mall officials said they are glad to be back, and there were dozens of people in the mall on Friday, but not everyone is ready to go back to shopping inside.
"I'm not comfortable going to the mall and shopping," said Vienna resident Jessie Siefert. "There's so much that's just unknown, so you don't really know what's right, so I'm going to err on the side of safety."
UPDATE: 5/21/20 9:45 A.M.
The Grand Central will reopen Friday morning after being closed for nearly two months because of the coronavirus pandemic, mall officials said in a news release.
The mall, which closed March 24, will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, but officials said some individual stores' reopening dates may vary.
Shoppers are encouraged to call ahead and to follow the mall on Facebook (facebook.com/GrandCentralMall) and Instagram (@grandcentralmall) for the most up-to-date information, mall officials said.
As the mall reopens, officials said they are focused on "providing a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone."
Officials said the mall's already rigorous disinfectant and cleaning practices will continue several times a day and that the areas most susceptible to the spread of germs will be periodically disinfected.
"We actually enhanced our code of conduct with guidance from the CDC," said Jody Hopkins, General Manager at the mall. "Things like social distancing, avoiding large groups, you know all the things that you hear about we want our guests to follow that as well, and if we do that we're going to be a safe place to shop."
In addition, everyone will be asked to adhere to the following guidelines:
- practice social distancing and stay at least 6 feet from other people
- covering your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover is recommended
- no not gather in groups
- adhere to each individual tenant’s COVID-19 policies
- adhere to all federal, state and local regulations, recommendations and mandates regarding COVID-19
A code of conduct is posted at the mall and is available online, officials said.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has announced that indoor malls will be allowed to reopen on Thursday, but the Grand Central Mall in Vienna has not yet said when its stores will open their doors to returning customers.
Mall officials said Tuesday they were still developing a plan that will allow businesses to safely reopen.
The mall has been closed since March 24.
ORIGINAL STORY: 05/08/2020
As West Virginia begins to reopen, the near future remains uncertain for many medium and large nonessential businesses as Gov. Jim Justice scaled back reopenings from his original week three plan.
The largest retail establishment in the Mid-Ohio Valley, Grand Central Mall, is still waiting on instruction from the governor before opening back up, leaving many of the businesses inside still closed.
“Right now we’re basically just waiting on the governor to give us the go-ahead. We have not gotten any new information on when we can reopen the mall,” said Mindy Fluharty, the area marketing director for the Grand Central Mall.
With that, Fluharty said there are a couple of businesses technically open in the mall. The Rage Hair Salon and Nail Citi are open for business by appointment only.
“You would have to call each of those businesses to make arrangements to be let into the mall to go to those particular businesses,” said Fluharty.
United Bank is also open and The Watering Can Studio is doing curbside pick-up. Many of the surrounding businesses are also open, like Olive Garden.
And while mall officials don’t know when they will be able to open its doors again, they are planning on taking steps to ensure everyone’s safety once they do reopen.
“You’ll see things a little bit differently,” said Fluharty. “Hours will be a little bit different. We’ll speak to all of that once we reopen.”