Simon malls set to open May 16

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CENTRAL VALLEY – The mall empire that owns Woodbury Common Premium Outlets says its shopping mecca in Orange County will reopen next week, in spite of state plans for a gradual reopening of businesses that requires most retail stores to wait until a second phase. UPDATE: Simon will not open NY stores on May 16

Simon Property Group announced Tuesday that it already has opened 59 shopping centers in 13 states that have lifted their coronavirus closure orders, and will open 18 more within the next week. The schedule indicates that seven malls in New York — including Woodbury Common, Shops at Nanuet, and The Westchester in White Plains — will open on May 16.

UPDATE: Simon Malls will not open NY stores as announced, same-day retraction states

That is the day after New York’s closure order expires. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a plan on Monday for a four-phase reopening of businesses in each of 10 regions of the state that can begin only after a region has met all seven benchmarks set by the state for new coronavirus cases and other measures.

As of Monday, the seven-county mid-Hudson region where Woodbury Common and the Nanuet and White Plains malls are located had met four of the seven criteria. Even if it satisfied all seven by May 16, the first phase of reopening is only for construction, manufacturing, supply-chain wholesalers and retail stores that offer curbside pickup.

All other retail operations must wait for the second reopening phase. Cuomo didn’t explain what will determine when regions advance to the second, third and fourth phases.

The announcement from Simon Property Group on Tuesday does note that its reopening schedule was based on state closure orders “that are currently in effect, which are subject to change.”

“Shopper response to our reopenings has been very positive,” the announcement read. “Initial traffic has been better than expected, and at times we have had to limit access to our properties to ensure enthusiastic shoppers adhere to the social distancing standards outlined in our COVID-19 safety protocols.”

Woodbury Common, an international shopping destination that attracts about 13 million visitors a year, has been closed since March 18, just before a series of state orders that has shut all workplaces except those deemed essential since March 22. The closure order – known as New York on PAUSE – has been extended several times and now runs through May 15.

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