SAN JOSE (KPIX) – Westfield opened its Bay Area malls Monday with stepped up COVID-19 sanitizing efforts and social distancing rules after being closed for months due to the pandemic.
Valley Fair and Oakridge in San Jose, as well as San Francisco Centre, opened to eager customers who hadn’t stepped inside in a mall in three months since shelter-in-place restrictions went into effect.READ MORE: Lockdown-Violating Underground Gatherings Investigated Over Recent Spate of San Jose Shootings
“I’m in heaven,” said Valley Fair shopper Karen Wong. “Touch things, try things on, buy things, be able to return; I’m a mall rat.”
According to a spokesperson, only 90 stores out of the nearly 300 at Valley Fair opened on the first day with the rest opening over the next couple of days as store managers train their employees on new social distancing and sanitation rules.
Inside the massive mall, signs remind shoppers to stay six feet apart, wear masks and wash their hands. Hand sanitizer stations have been placed throughout the mall, hours have been shortened, the food court and restaurants are only serving to-go orders and stores are limiting how many people can step inside depending on square footage per county rules.READ MORE: The Game Changer: New Test Helps Doctors Find Hidden Prostate Cancer
“Of course it’s not the same, especially on the limits on the stores,” said shopper Bob Miller.
But it’s not just shoppers who are eager to see malls reopening. Employees are also eager to earn a paycheck again, including Lisa McCann, who manages a store inside Valley Fair.
“Everyone is taking all the measures,” McCann said. “Really excited to get back to work and get our teams back to work; it just feels nice to be out and to see people out and about.”
Miller said he didn’t go to the mall to shop. It was a finally reason and a place to get out of the house.MORE NEWS: Oakley School Board Interim Trustees Vote to Fill Vacant Seats; Reject Special Election
“I look forward to being able to window shop, which is one of my favorite things to do,” he said.