CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Walden Galleria will reopen on Friday following Governor Cuomo's announcement Wednesday morning that shopping malls with enhanced HVAC filtration systems can reopen.
"We are ecstatic to welcome them back safely and responsibly to our properties, and pledge to continue to do our part moving forward," said Aiden McGuire, director of corporate communications for the Pyramid Management Group. "We look forward to re-opening our properties on Friday across New York State."
The Boulevard Mall will also reopen Friday at 11 a.m.
The Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls will also have most stores open at 11 a.m. A spokesperson for the mall says their plans include "compliance with New York State guidelines including upgraded air filters throughout our center’s air conditioning system. We have also significantly enhanced cleaning and sanitizing protocols, with a focus on frequent touchpoints, to make sure guests and employees feel comfortable and at ease with the return to business. Added signage and other safeguards will be in place to assure continued, appropriate social distancing and other precautionary measures."
Shopping malls have been closed since mid-March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, although stores with their own exterior entrances were allowed to reopen last month.
Nathan Mrosz, Owner of The BFLO Store, which has a location inside Walden Galleria, eagerly awaited Wednesday's news.
“Even just walking in today, knowing and having that hope of opening, it feels great," he said. "And I know I share that with a lot of other small businesses and national businesses that are located inside malls.”
Mrosz said entering the store was like going into a time warp. He's now tasked with swapping out the St. Patrick's day apparel that still sits on the shelves for a summer line, which includes a BFLO mask.
Other state guidance for malls includes 50 percent capacity, and the closing off of food court seating. Movie theaters inside malls will remain closed.
The state did not mention how the new requirements will be enforced. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the county is only required to inspect restaurants inside malls.
“Something that is not normally under our purview, we just wouldn’t go out and inspect because we truthfully just don’t have the power to do it, and a mall in itself we would not normally inspect," he said.
7 Eyewitness News has also reached out to the Eastern Hills Mall and McKinley Mall to inquire about their reopening plans.