Ingram Park Mall, which shut its doors at 7 p.m. Wednesday, is the first of San Antonio’s shopping malls to announce it is closing temporarily to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Simon Property Group plans to close all of its properties in the United States, including Ingram and San Marcos Premium Outlets. They will reopen March 29, said a statement from the company.
“The health and safety of our shoppers, retailers, and employees is of paramount importance and we are taking this step to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” said David Simon, CEO and president of Simon.
In San Antonio, where the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered schools and businesses citywide and led to bans on public gathering, most shopping malls have remained open.
Though many stores are closed, including anchor tenants from Macy’s to Nieman Marcus, and parking lots are mostly empty, the doors at malls such as the Shops at La Cantera, South Park Mall, and North Star Mall are open – with reduced hours.
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Mall property management companies did not respond to our calls for information about whether or not they planned to close, or why they remain open.
On Monday, Mayor Ron Nirenberg issued an emergency public health order banning all “mass gatherings” of 50 people or more. Exempt from that rule are bars, restaurants, shopping centers, churches, and many other areas where people congregate.
A day after the declaration, groups of people were spotted strolling the walkways at the Shops at Rivercenter.
Also open is North Star Mall, which had briefly closed for a deep-clean following a visit from a woman who had been released from a federally mandated quarantine at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. The woman was later found to have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. On March 5, the mayor and his staff encouraged shoppers to return by having lunch in the food court.
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A week ago, La Cantera’s mall, managed by Brookfield Properties, was buzzing with spring break shoppers.
When the Rivard Report stopped by on Wednesday, only a few people, bags in hand, were spotted walking through the open-air mall, and one group of salon employees was holding a meeting under a gazebo.
The neighboring roller coasters at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, closed since Saturday, stood frozen in place.
Store closings go beyond the shopping malls, however. Though standalone places such as Lowe’s and Michael’s remain open for all the do-it-yourselfers, and those that sell food and household essentials such as Target and Walmart will remain open, major retailers Ikea and REI have both closed their doors.
Shopping online is encouraged, and curbside pickup is available at some outlets.
On Sunday, national retail industry leaders asked state and local policymakers to notify retail executives in advance when forced closures are being considered and cooperate on recommendations.
The largest shopping mall in the nation, Mall of America in Minneapolis, is currently locked down, its myriad stores, food courts, and indoor roller coasters quiet.