Customers entered the Westfield Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, N.J. for the first time since March 17 wearing masks, CBS2’s Nick Caloway reported.
Many said they were happy to stand in line, delighted to no longer have to shop online.
“It was brutal. I’m not an online shopper. We come here, this is my therapy,” said Lorraine Flood.
Many said they just wanted to get out of the house.
“It’s just more therapeutic. It’s a fun activity to do. You just get out and clear your head,” said Olivia Reyes.
“I miss being out in public, you know, being locked up. The first time actually being out in a mall, I’m happy that it’s open. I just hope that it stays this way and everybody is socially distanced, wears their mask,” said Pete Sparta.
Shoppers and employees must wear face coverings inside, and malls are limited to 50 percent capacity.
Social distancing is also a requirement.
“It was weird at first, but now it’s kind of just like, you grab your keys, you grab your purse, you grab your mask. And it’s kinda just the way it is now,” said Danielle Pini.
With all that in mind, customers were eager to get back inside.
“It’s something that I do regularly, just to get out of the house a little bit. I have some returns, so I’m excited that I don’t have to go to the post office. I can just do it real quick and get out,” said Bianca Antonutci
“We’ve been cooped up in quarantine for a while. So it’s kind of good to get out,” said Jonathan Luu.
Non-essential retail stores were allowed to reopen two weeks ago, but the indoor sections of malls had to remain closed.
For now, many malls are operating with reduced hours.
Westfield Garden State Plaza, for example, is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Food courts remain closed, but restaurants at malls can offer take-out and outdoor dining.
Nonetheless, it feels like a big step forward in a state where shopping malls are ingrained in the culture, especially for the thousands of people who work at them.
“I feel really great to be back to normal. I love working so it’s nice to come back,” said Karen Maldonado.
“Tired of being at home. And I love customers, I love what I do. So I’m excited to be back,” said Dawn Austin.
The state has not yet given the green light for movie theaters or arcades to reopen.