Tampa area Westfield malls to reopen May 15

Westfield malls in the Tampa area will reopen to the public on May 15, the company announced.

Westfield Citrus Park, Westfield Brandon and Westfield Countryside will welcome back customers with modified hours as the shopping centers implement more stringent health and safety protocols.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said retailers, including malls, could reopen at 25% capacity beginning May 4. While other companies such as Simon Malls opted to open on the first day, Westfield plans to reopen its three Tampa Bay area properties the following week, though individual retailers may opt to remain closed.

Starting May 15, the three malls will be open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Sundays from 12 pm to 6 p.m.

The Florida Retail Federation says the pandemic has had a severe impact on the state's 270,000 stores.

“One in five jobs in the state of Florida is related to retail, so it’s been devastating,” CEO Scott Shalley told FOX 13.

Related: How malls in Florida plan to reopen with limited capacity

UCF professor Dr. Larry Barton, who specializes in public safety and crisis management, says it will take time to get malls back to 100%.

“The supply chain, security issues, the logistics of reopening, not knowing if your employees will even be there when you ask them to come back on Monday, has just created a sense of disorganization,” he said.

Barton says the malls' anchor stores will be key in the recovery process.

“Looking at the biggest stores, and making sure that everything is going well there,” he added. “It’s where you’re going to have a lot of foot traffic, and where you as consumers will say, 'I had a really good experience.'”

Westfield says the malls will implement the following new practices:

- Increasing the frequency of cleaning measures following CDC and local health department guidelines, with a focus on high-touch areas such as restrooms, play areas, dining areas, and water fountains

- Monitoring and controlling the number of guests entering the centers and crowds in dwell areas and queuing lines

- Implementing and enforcing relevant policies related to social distancing, face masks and other preventative measures

- Providing an increased number of hand sanitizer and hand washing stations, along with protective masks and other materials to those guests and employees who request them.

Westfield says the shopping centers will work with select retailers and third-party operators to facilitate curbside pick-up and home delivery services.