Woodfield Mall to reopen Friday with limited hours, capacity
Woodfield Mall will reopen to the public Friday on the first day of Phase 3 of the state's reopening plan, officials said Thursday.
Simon Property Group announced the reopening in conjunction with a planned media tour at 9 a.m. Friday led by mall manager Laurie Van Dalen. The Schaumburg shopping center will operate on limited business hours and follow Simon's COVID-19 Exposure Mitigation Protocol, which includes required facial coverings, social distancing and reduced capacity limits.
"From a practical standpoint, we're excited the mall is going to reopen under safety protocols," said Matt Frank, Schaumburg's economic development director. "We're optimistic that our shoppers will come back."
Other suburban shopping centers previously announced plans to reopen in the coming days, including Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills and Fox Valley Mall in Aurora, which are both set to open Monday. Yorktown Center in Lombard plans to reopen sometime after Saturday but doesn't yet have a precise date.
Other suburban malls, including Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont, Randhurst Village in Mount Prospect and Spring Hill Mall in West Dundee, had not publicly announced reopening plans as of Thursday. Indianapolis-based Simon, which also manages Gurnee Mills in Gurnee, hasn't announced an opening date for that property.
But Friday marks the first day individual retailers across the state can reopen under guidelines of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's Restore Illinois plan.
Schaumburg Mayor Tom Dailly said he expects a slow comeback as people gradually overcome their fears but believes the lifting of the most severe restrictions is a step in the right direction.
"I think it's extremely important and shows a sign that things are starting to move toward normalcy," Dailly said. "We cannot stay locked down forever. We can't hide forever in our houses."
Dailly said he believes that the allowed size of gatherings should already be raised from 10 to 50 people and that the state's criteria for moving from one phase of reopening to the next should be a 14-day decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations rather than 28.
"Fourteen days is more than sufficient to show a decline," he said. "Part of what people need right now is hope and normalcy."
He also believes restaurants should be allowed to operate at half capacity.
In terms of what Friday's reopening means for restaurants and stores at Woodfield, Frank said the expectation is that visitors will keep on the move and not sit or linger. Restaurants, even in the upper-level dining pavilion, will be open only for carryout unless they have outdoor seating.
He added that the anchor department stores will be accessible only through exterior entrances, in order to better monitor occupancy of all areas of the mall.
With the reopening of Woodfield and other retail, Frank believes the next hardest-hit area of Schaumburg's economy will remain its hotels, which have been affected more by the reduction in travel than state regulations that have kept stores and restaurants closed.