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Mall of America reopens with safety measures in place

On Wednesday, about 150 stores at Mall of America reopened out of more than 500.

BLOOMINGTON, Minnesota — After three months, Mall of America is back open but with COVID-19 safety measures in place. 

On Wednesday, doors opened at 8 a.m. 

MOA has reduced its hours with stores open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.  

"This morning just warmed my heart because I saw a lot of mall walkers back and they were so excited to be in the building," said Jill Renslow, MOA executive vice president of business development and marketing. 

The mall was set to reopen June 1 but was further delayed after the unrest over George Floyd's death. 

On Wednesday, 125-150 stores reopened out of 520. Those numbers are expected to go up day to day. 

"It's exciting and it's a little nerve-racking just not knowing what to expect. It's hard to know how to prepare but we did the best we could and we're just hoping for, we're hoping people are comfortable coming back," said Stephanie Warren, co-owner of The Original Popcorn House. 

Warren and her husband also own Final Cut Sports Barbershop at MOA. 

The couple opened their gourmet popcorn shop last November, then COVID-19 caused MOA to close in March. They stayed open, offering pickup and curbside delivery. 

"We actually set up a makeshift website and started doing our own deliveries to... try to keep business going being that we were so new," Warren said. 

The Original Popcorn House also teamed up with another MOA tenant, Baking Betty's. The pair offered popcorn and cookie packages. They'll continue offering those packages. 

"We're just really excited to be back open for business," Warren said. 

MOA has safety measures in place including hand sanitizer stations, plexiglass at guest service desks, limited seating, signs encouraging social distancing and floor stickers directing traffic flow. 

"All of our staff will be wearing masks. We go through health screenings every morning with temperature checks and then we get our wristband to show that we went through our health screening," Renslow explained. 

Shoppers aren't required to wear masks in the common areas of the mall but it's highly encouraged. Renslow also said more than 50% of their retailers are requiring masks. 

"So people definitely want to bring them with them when they come out here," Renslow said. 

The mall is also limiting the amount of shoppers allowed inside. The state currently allows malls to operate at 50% capacity. 

"In our parking ramps, that's where we're starting the capacity management. So we've actually closed down 50% of our parking and so in our ramps you'll see limited levels that will be available, as well as some of... our surface lots are limited. That actually allows us to be at 35% inside the building," Renslow said. 

Hayley Hadges and Brook Geleta visited the mall on Wednesday afternoon. 

Hadges said it's still kind of scary to come back and added, "It's kind of weird to be at a place like this and see so few people when it's usually super packed." 

Geleta agreed it felt weird to be back but added, "There's a lot less people than we kind of thought would be here so it gives ample enough room for people to stay spread out."

Nickelodeon Universe remains closed. Renslow hopes they can reopen the theme park in the weeks ahead. 

Check MOA's website for the latest on stores that are now open or set to reopen. 

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