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The Mall in Columbia to reopen Saturday with new safety guidelines, temporary hours in place

The Mall in Columbia is reopening Saturday with different hours, capacity limits and new safety guidelines to help keep the public safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

After Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan closed all malls statewide March 19, he announced eased restrictions last week and malls are allowed to reopen beginning this weekend.

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The Mall in Columbia will have modified hours of 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

“As one of the major economic engines in Howard County, we are looking forward to getting back to work,” said Barb Nicklas, senior general manager at The Mall in Columbia. “We appreciate the tremendous partnership and support we have received from the Howard County executive’s office, and The Mall in Columbia is excited to welcome back our guests and employees as we return to our new normal.”

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Nicklas couldn’t confirm Tuesday which stores will be open this weekend as those decisions are being left up to individual businesses and companies. She said once the weekend arrives, the stores that are open will appear on the mall’s website. She expects about 50% of the mall’s retailers to be open Saturday.

Similar to restaurants and retail stores across the state, the mall will only be able to operate at 50% capacity. The individual restaurants and stores in the mall can also only have 50% capacity. Nicklas said the mall has a “real-time traffic counter system” to track the number of people in the store.

“It’s updated every 15 minutes, and at any point I can go on and I can see the number of people who have walked into our center from all of our entrances,” she said. “From that and the observance of the crowd, we will absolutely be able to stay on top of that. We are prepared to limit access if that does happen, but we are confident that it won’t.”

Nicklas said the food court, which features more than a dozen restaurants, will have fewer seats and separated tables to abide by social distancing guidelines.

In addition to frequent cleaning protocols, she said the mall will have social distancing markers and signs and nearly 30 hand sanitizer stations.

“We will also have touch-free interaction in bathrooms and into the center,” she said. “We have a number of social distancing measures, including separating where customers will enter from [and] where they will exit.”

In addition to the stores opening Saturday, some will still offer curbside pickup and others are only open on appointment basis.

In the Central Maryland area, the Westfield Annapolis mall has announced it will reopen Saturday and the TownMall of Westminster is set to reopen at 5 p.m. Friday, both with modified hours and new safety measures in place.

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