Many South Florida malls and casinos are starting to reopen after a long shutdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Dolphin Mall was a ghost town after it was forced to shut down for about two months, but on Wednesday they welcomed back shoppers and employees with some new safety measures.
"When you come in we’re gonna request that you wear a mask. It’s not a request, it’s actually a mandate by the county. We’re gonna ask that you stay on your specific lane so that it can create social distancing,” said Dolphin Mall General Manager Pete Marrero.
Some of the new sanitary practices at the mall include:
- Cleaning and disinfecting the center throughout the day, and after-hours, with a focus on high-touch, high-traffic surfaces
- Limit the number of customers to a maximum of 50 percent of mall or store occupancy
- Facial coverings must be worn by all mall customers and employees inside the mall’s common area and inside all retail establishments
- Using signage and decals to help customers with social distancing
- Offering hand sanitizer at designated stations
- Closing play areas
- Removing furniture and/or resetting seating areas in our common areas and food court to allow for greater social distancing
Some shoppers were eager to get some long-awaited retail therapy.
“I think I feel safe and clean and they’re very sure of what they’re doing so I’m very happy to be here,” said Gloria Gonzalez.
As some retail stores start to gradually open their doors, the pandemic has taken a toll on their bottom line.
“Right now we don’t know what’s going to happen because this mall mainly works with tourists, and there’s no tourists in this town, I’m feeling nervous. We don’t know what’s gonna happen. Hopefully we’re gonna get back to normal. How soon? I don’t know,” said Jesus Garcia, Manager of Digital Universe.
One casino in South Florida is also navigating how to safely come back even though casinos are not part of Miami Dade’s phase one re-opening.
Miccosukee Resort and Gaming opened to the public at 25 percent capacity on Sunday, May 17th. As a sovereign nation, the tribe does not have to follow county or state orders, but they have enforced some safety guidelines.
Tribe employees are taking people’s temperature as they come in, masks must be worn at all times while inside the casino, and they will limit capacity to 500 guests inside.
Tribal leaders say they are doing deep cleanings daily and offering wipes to sanitize machines. All their employees are being trained to enforce these new measures and they claim all employees have tested negative for COVID-19 so far.
“Health and welfare for all of us is at stake because the virus has no bounds. We’re doing everything we can within our control to make it safe that people can come and enjoy themselves,” said Billy Cypress, Chairman of the Miccosukee Tribe.
Miccosukee Resort and Gaming has new hours from 6 a.m. to midnight.
Dolphin Mall is open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.