In order to reopen, malls must have MERV-13 or the highest rating compatible with the system - but no less than a MERV-11 rating. They must also have ventilation protocols, such as increased outdoor air, reduced air re-circulation, longer system run times and frequent filter checks.
The Western New York region entered Phase 4 last week. Walden Galleria confirmed to 2 On Your Side that it will open on Friday.
The Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls on Thursday said it was preparing to reopen on Friday as well.
Walden Galleria and the Boulevard Mall report the use of now-commonplace practices such as hand-cleansing stations and surface sanitation, frequent cleaning of bathrooms, and signs for face masking and distancing.
But Boulevard Mall General Manager Amanda Baumler also noted an interesting point of social distancing and crowd spacing. That addresses a concern that state officials had raised about malls.
"We do have security measures in place here. We're not going to allow anybody in groups of more than five people to be congregating in our area," Baumler said. "We have moved our tables to be sure of the proper distancing as well as to allow our housekeeping staff to be able to disinfect those areas as soon as somebody leaves those areas, and so it's kind of a walk-around type of environment."
And on hot days like we are experiencing right now, a mall can be an enticing place to go to cool off. Of course they have to follow the state's AC requirements to combat COVID.
Baumler says: "When the Governor did announce that we could reopen with these new filters we were immediately in contact with our expert HVAC unit technicians who were able to order the filter that he did require and install them. So we are 100 percent up to code."