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Towson Town Center reopening with restrictions Saturday

Towson Town Center, which had been closed due to the pandemic, reopened Saturday with reduced hours and some safety precautions in place.
Towson Town Center, which had been closed due to the pandemic, reopened Saturday with reduced hours and some safety precautions in place. (Barbara Haddock Taylor)

Towson Town Center will reopen Saturday with fewer hours, reduced capacity and new measures to encourage social distancing and sanitation amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Maryland malls and indoor shopping centers have been closed since mid-March, following orders from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

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Following Hogan’s statewide order last week lifting restrictions on malls and other nonessential businesses, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewksi Jr. announced county malls, gyms and restaurants may reopen under capacity limits of 50%.

Towson Town Center will operate under modified hours, and will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

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Emily Brophy, the mall’s general manager, couldn’t say yet how many of the mall’s 180 stores and kiosks will be reopened Saturday, as retailers wait on corporate direction and guidelines.

Mall officials in a news release said various measures meant to keep customers safe will be implemented, including hand sanitizing stations set up through the mall, touch-free interactions, signage encouraging social distancing — recommended by public health experts to be 6 feet apart — and more frequent and thorough cleaning.

Customers entering the mall must wear face masks, and employees will be required to wear them, per county and state guidelines.

“We’re trying to do as much as we can to prepare and make sure everyone is comfortable coming back,” Brophy previously said.

Towson Town Center, which would typically see between 40,000 to 50,000 visitors on a Saturday, has traffic counters in its garages to monitor how many customers are in the shopping center at any given time, but Brophy has said enforcing the 50% capacity limit will be the challenge every large shopping center will have to face.

“There’s no magic number for 50% of a mall occupancy,” Brophy said. Mall management has been coordinating with the Fire Marshal’s office on such restrictions, but customers should ultimately exercise personal responsibility if they see the mall seems crowded, Brophy said.

Mall security will also monitor “large gatherings,” she previously said.

“We appreciate the continued support from the community and are eager to once again serve as a place where people can shop, dine, work and spend time together in a safe and controlled way,” Brophy said in a statement.

As stores reopen, they will appear on the mall’s website. Curbside pickup will remain available for retailers that choose to continue the service, Brophy said.

In the Central Maryland area, The Mall in Columbia and the Westfield Annapolis mall have announced they will reopen Saturday, and the TownMall of Westminster is set to reopen at 5 p.m. Friday, all with modified hours and new safety measures in place.

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