GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As the number of new coronavirus cases continues to decline in Michigan, shops can open without an appointment starting Thursday.
It comes after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lifted Michigan’s stay-at-home order and eased some restrictions on gatherings but while keeping social-distancing rules in place. Restaurants can open up their dining rooms on Monday. However, some businesses like salons must stay closed for now.
On Friday, the governor moved the entire state to phase 4 of the six-phase MI Safe Start plan. She said her goal is to shift the entire state to phase 5 — “containing” — before July 4.
WHAT SHOPPERS CAN EXPECT
Strict social distancing and health guidelines will still be upheld at retailers. That’s the case at the Woodland Mall in Kentwood, which will reopen about 30 of its stores from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday.
The mall, which had opened nearly 25 stores during the appointment-only period, has implemented new changes to accommodate the rise in shoppers.
“We will be opening at 25% capacity. We will monitor it through our electronic counting devices at every entrance and exit. Each store will limit how many people enter as well so we may have some people waiting outside individual retailers,” Marketing director Cecily McCabe said. “We’re just so excited to get our employees back to work and have people shopping here once again.”
After being closed for roughly three months, reminders of the time before the COVID-19 pandemic are still out — placards signaling St. Patrick’s Day sales and some spring fashions, which the mall will be actively pushing out.
“Some of our stores are offering great deals, sales and discounts,” McCabe said. “Most stores had to send back their winter styles before we could enter that clearance period. Now with the rise of Amazon and other online shopping, shipping is less reliable. So, we’ve decided to push the spring fashions here with great sales while still offering our newest summer styles too.”
The mall’s food court and anchor restaurants will resume their dine-in options starting Monday. In anticipation of that, all seating has been removed from the mall.
“It’s strange to see,” McCabe said. “We want this to be a comfortable space, a place for people to gather. For now though, we need people to come in, get their things and not linger too long to allow others a chance to come in as well. We’ll be adding more seating soon though.”
While 30 stores will reopen Thursday, McCabe explains they expect 40 to open Friday with more following.