The Nebraska Crossing Outlet shopping mall is seen in Gretna, Nebreska, Tuesday, April 14.
Nebraska Crossing Outlets says it will fully open its doors on April 24 for brick and mortar shopping.
The outlets will allow its more than 80 tenants to invite customers to shop in what it called a “soft opening.”
Nebraska Crossing Outlets, near Omaha, would become one of the first malls to fully open back up across the country.
Owner and developer Rod Yates told CNN his tenants, which include several global retail brands, asked to use his outdoor outlet as a case study to see what best practices are necessary to start opening storefronts across the country and globe.
“At some point here, we got to start thinking about how brick and mortar is going to interact with retailers and customers and so we found an opportunity here to kind of do that,” Yates said in an interview with CNN.
“We’ll experiment, we’re going to walk, we’re going to be very, very cautious,” he added.
The mall has largely been open for individual stores to fulfill curbside pick-up orders but haven’t let customers actually inside the stores. This soft opening would change that. The outlet mall is home to retailers like Nike, Adidas, Polo Ralph Lauren, Kate Spade among others.
Some background: Nebraska is one of seven states in the US to have no official stay-at-home order. With less than 1,000 cases statewide, Gov. Pete Ricketts ordered businesses like hair salons, tattoo parlors and strip clubs to be closed until May 31 but only “urged” individuals to practice social distancing guidelines without making them mandatory.
The state’s peak is expected around May 2, eight days after the outlet mall reopens.
Yates said he’s communicated with Ricketts about the outdoor mall opening, saying the governor cautioned against creating any mass opening events — leading to the “soft opening” that will gradually transition to a full opening in May, according to a letter sent to stores.
As a precaution, Yates said the mall bought 100 of infrared forehead thermometers to give to each store, encouraging them to take the temperatures of employees and possibly even customers. But the use is not mandatory. Covid-19 can be contagious even when those infected don’t have fevers.
Yates said he will also leave crowd size regulation up to individual stores. The outdoor mall sits on more than 40 acres of land, Yates said, but shop sizes vary so creating a one-size fits all mandate for stores isn’t ideal. He does not expect all stores will participate in the opening.