Some Los Angeles-area shopping malls — closed since March due to coronavirus stay-at-home precautions — are delaying scheduled reopenings this week in light of civil unrest triggered by George Floyd’s in-custody death in Minneapolis.
“We are missing you more each day, and we regret to inform you that our initial plans to reopen on June 3 have now been postponed due to the current situation in Los Angeles County,” officials with SouthBay Pavilion in Carson stated in an email to customers.
The announcement followed a week of protests in Los Angeles County and across the country decrying Floyd’s death. Those peaceful protests have sometimes taken violent turns, with vandalism and looting of area businesses, prompting local officials to set citywide curfews and shopkeepers to board up storefronts as a precaution.
As rallies continued to be marred by bands of criminals capitalizing on the police focus on protesters, the National Guard was deployed after Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Saturday for all of Los Angeles County.
For malls and other businesses, the civil unrest comes just as many were planning to reopen after being closed for two months due to coronavirus precautions. Now, it is unclear when they will resume regular service.
SouthBay Pavilion officials wrote to customers, “You will be one of the first to receive the new reopening date as soon as it is set. Please stay safe and follow the Los Angeles County curfew guidelines. Rest assured that our Carson Sheriff’s Station is on high alert and patrolling our center for the safety of the employees and store owners.”
Some businesses at SouthBay Pavilion planned to maintain their delivery or curbside pickup services even though the mall remains closed.
Similarly, the Westfield Valencia Town Center in Santa Clarita — which also was scheduled to reopen Wednesday — has postponed its reopening to 11 a.m. Monday, according to the mall’s website.
Mall officials told the Santa Clarita Valley Signal the decision was made “for the welfare of our customers, employees and retail partners.”
“We strongly believe in the importance of inclusivity and in the strength of our community — please stay safe, and we look forward to reopening to serve you soon,” mall officials said.
Rumors have circulated on local social media that a large protest will take place in the Santa Clarita Valley later this week, and city officials released a statement Tuesday addressing those concerns.
“The city of Santa Clarita is aware of the post circulating on social media regarding the possible protest on Thursday. To be clear, no permit has been granted and no permit has been requested.”
Officials also stated the city was working with law enforcement to have plans in place in the event that businesses or the community need to be protected.
Cal State Long Beach associate professor Laura Gonzalez, who teaches finance in the College of Business, told City News Service there will be a lasting impact on businesses from the coronavirus stay-at-home protection orders, especially when combined with recent business lootings and vandalism.
Businesses, especially those that were already struggling before the pandemic or have been looted and vandalized, may never recover or may relocate, Gonzalez said.
“Many will think about whether or not they should reopen,” she said. “Insurance contracts do not cover all circumstances, and businesses were already suffering. Even where restrictions were eased, some customers haven’t felt comfortable going out and were continuing to shop online. There were malls and shops already closing before coronavirus.”
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