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Though malls are closed, some stores with outside entrances are open for business

Customers leave Macy's at the Westfield South Shore

Customers leave Macy's at the Westfield South Shore mall in Bay Shore on Wednesday. Credit: James Carbone

Ricky Davis popped into a Macy’s in Bay Shore as quickly as he could Wednesday.

Visiting Long Island for a funeral, Davis wouldn’t have gone into the department store at Westfield South Shore mall at all if he hadn’t needed a suit for the services, the East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, resident said.

“If I could have gotten it online in time, I wouldn’t be … here,” said Davis, 39, who said he won’t feel safe shopping in stores for some time because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he prefers the convenience and variety that online shopping offers.

Macy’s is among the few mall retailers that have reopened for in-store shopping on Long Island since June 10, when Long Island entered Phase 2 of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s business resumption plan amid the pandemic. 

Under Phase 2, stores with their own entrances and exits to the outside were allowed to reopen last week for the first time since state-mandated closings in March to help stop the spread of the virus. So, at shopping malls, the only businesses allowed to open are mostly large department stores and some restaurants that offer outdoor seating and takeout.

For about the last week, shopping malls’ anchor tenants have been reopening their doors or making plans to do so soon.

Nordstrom at Roosevelt Field mall in Garden City and th­e chain’s three local off-price Nordstrom Racks, which are in shopping centers, reopen today.

JCPenney at Westfield South Shore and at Roosevelt Field reopened Wednesday.

Macy’s eight department stores on Long Island, including locations at Roosevelt Field, Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station and Westfield South Shore, reopened last Friday, but with shortened hours.

Dick’s Sporting Goods’ nine Long Island stores, including those at Roosevelt Field, Westfield Sunrise mall in Massapequa and Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, reopened June 10.

Phase 2 permits in-store shopping with restrictions, such as not allowing store occupancy to go beyond 50% of capacity; requiring that employees and customers wear masks; and ensuring 6 feet of distance between people. 

Still, some shoppers are nervous about going into stores.

Islip Terrace resident Jackie Dee, 52, went to Macy’s at Westfield South Shore on Wednesday to pick up a Father’s Day gift she had ordered online for her son. Because of her husband’s health issues — he is immunocompromised and undergoing chemotherapy — she will continue to severely limit her visits to stores until there is a vaccine for COVID-19, she said.

“You can buy everything online,” she said.

At this point, no indoor malls are open in any region in the state.

The Phase 2 retail reopenings are a start, but some Long Island officials says it’s time to get malls fully up and running.

The reopening of indoor malls is expected to be included in Phase 4, which could start as early as July 8 on Long Island.

On June 8, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran wrote a letter to Cuomo in which she asked that indoor malls be included in the Phase 2 reopenings because, she said, they were capable of following health and safety protocols just as essential businesses have done throughout the pandemic.

“By delaying the reopening of malls by an additional two weeks or longer, hundreds of retailers will see devastating negative effect after already losing months of revenue,” she wrote.

The office of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone also made a request early last week that the state reconsider reopening malls before Phase 4.

Cuomo said at a press conference Tuesday that the state was looking at the possibility of reopening malls but a big factor was whether the buildings could be reopened with rules about public gatherings being followed.

“Can you have bars and restaurants serve alcohol where people pick it up and don’t congregate? Yes, that is theoretically possible. There is a big variance between what is theoretically possible and what can actually happen in reality,” he said.

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