GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Indoor shopping malls were able to welcome back shoppers Friday in regions that have reached Phase 4 reopening.

The Roosevelt Field Mall on Long Island and the Palisades Center in Rockland County opened their doors for the first time in months.

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“I’m happy. I used to go to the mall like every day. The food court, shopping – just something to do on Long Island,” Hank Williams, of Hempstead, told CBS2’s John Dias outside Roosevelt Field. “I think if everyone follows the CDC rules, then everyone should be safe.”

“As long as there is a standard procedure for it,” said another shopper.

Other Long Islanders weren’t jumping at the opportunity to return.

“Nervous. I don’t think it needs to reopen yet,” Doreen Keil, who lives in Seldon but works in the area, said. “I’m a little scared with the crowds and all the people now. I’m afraid it might blow up again.


Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said those who decide to shop will be safe.

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“I think in Nassau County we are proving we can reopen and we can reopen while decreasing the infection rate, while decreasing the hospitalization rate. I expect that we could be a national model,” she said. “I walked in here this morning and took a nice deep breath of that mall air, that mall smell – there’s nothing like it.”

Earlier this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said indoor malls can only reopen if they install enhanced COVID removal filters.

“We know that this is a heavy virus. We know that it can be blocked by special filters,” Curran said Friday.

Scientists believe the coronavirus travels on small aerosol particles that linger in the air. The filters are meant to trap those particles.

“These are larger air cleaners that can be installed in big rooms – places like auditoriums, gymnasiums,” explained Steven Devine, VP of Research and Development at Camfil.

Stores have limited hours and can only allow 50% capacity, people must wear face coverings and dining is open for take-out only. There are also social distancing markers and hand sanitizing stations.

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Roosevelt Field employs 4,000 people, who could start going back to work.