Visalia Mall reopens at reduced capacity, with safety measures in place

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The reopening of the Visalia Mall on Monday was convenient timing for Kyanna Orozco and Davonte Brown.

They needed to return an item at American Eagle.

"They're like 'Oh we just opened today,'" Brown said. "So we just (said) 'Oh, let's go down there.'"

As part of California's new Blueprint for a Safer Economy, shopping centers are allowed to reopen indoors to varying degrees.

Throughout most of the Central Valley, malls must limit capacity to 25% and keep their common areas and food courts closed.

The Visalia Mall had been closed since mid-July.

"It's good to have people back," Visalia Mall G.M. Rick Feder said.

Malls are also required to follow state guidance for COVID-19 control measures including cleaning, social distancing, and use of face coverings.

"We have security walking around making sure people are wearing their face masks," he said. "They will ask customers if they will separate and keep a social distance. It's for their safety and the safety of the customers as well."

Feder says the Visalia Mall has its own digital monitoring system that counts customers, helping manage capacity requirements.

For those who aren't ready to shop in-person quite yet, some stores will continue to offer curbside pickup.

"The most important thing is the mall is a safe, clean environment for everybody," Feder said. "We are most concerned about our customers and our employees' health and safety."

Kyanna and Davonte miss the hustle and bustle of the mall-pre-pandemic.

"It's kind of weird cause it's just so empty," Orozco said. "And we're always used to coming and it being packed. I mean, we've gotten used to it."

Feder says Visalia Mall's plans for the holiday shopping season are still evolving.

But there's one thing they know for sure: pictures with Santa will have a virtual element this year.
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