Syracuse, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office responded Tuesday to Destiny USA’s request that he reconsider his decision to keep the giant Syracuse mall — and all other malls in New York — closed.
Cuomo surprised the mall’s owner, Syracuse-based Pyramid Management Group, on Friday when he gave Central New York the go-ahead to enter phase two of the state’s regional reopening plan but excluded stores in the interior portions of shopping malls.
Jason Conwall, a spokesperson for Cuomo, said malls have lots of enclosed common areas where more than 10 people can congregate, increasing the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus and Covid-19, the highly contagious respiratory disease it causes. Cuomo has banned nonessential gatherings of more than 10 people.
In addition, all those common areas encourage people to “window shop” rather than making a purchase and quickly leaving, he said.
“It’s not about the business,” he said. “It’s about the actual mall.”
He noted that under Cuomo’s order, mall stores that have their exterior entrances separate from the mall’s main entrances can reopen. In addition, he noted that stores in the interior portions of malls are allowed to offer curbside pickup of pre-ordered merchandise.
In a statement earlier Tuesday, Pyramid called on the state to reconsider its “surprising decision” not to allow Destiny to reopen, saying the survival of many of its retail tenants was at stake. (It did not mention Cuomo by name, but the mall was closed by his order in mid-March and remains closed under his order.)
With nearly 250 stores, restaurants and entertainment venues in 2.4 million square feet of leasable space, Destiny USA is the largest mall in New York and the sixth largest in the nation.
Pyramid said it spent a lot of time and money developing a plan to safely reopen the mall. The plan includes requiring employees and customers to wear face masks, a cleaning and sanitizing regimen for the center, and floor and railing markers to help people stay 6 feet from each other.
The company said the large open spaces in Destiny USA make social distancing easier to practice and will lessen the density in the mall stores with exterior entrances.
Pyramid spokesperson Aiden McGuire said the company believes any mall, not just Destiny USA, should be allowed to reopen when the region it is in meets the state’s phase two metrics.
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