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New York Business Owners Chafe At Uncertainty Over Mall Reopenings

ROCHESTER, PA (WXXI) - Governor Andrew Cuomo has confirmed that the Finger Lakes and four other regions in the state are on track to enter Phase 4 of the reopening process on Friday.

But that process does not include reopening gyms, movie theaters and indoor shopping malls right now.

Cuomo said that state health officials are still studying data about those venues and looking at factors that include air recirculation. He did not give a timeline on when the malls, theaters and gyms will be able to reopen, and that uncertain is what really bothers Adam Blitz. He owns Marble Slab Creamery at Eastview Mall.

Blitz said  he has to buy product well in advance, and if he doesn’t know when he can reopen, he cannot store perishable items too far ahead of time. And Blitz feels his business is taking proper safety precautions against the coronavirus.

“We’ve put into place, in going above and beyond, all the safety regulations that all the other businesses that are open currently have done. We are ready, we are ready to be back in business in a safe and effective manner and we’re just hoping that we can have the opportunity to do so, so that we can feed our families,” Blitz said.

Reza Sattari owns Oriental Rug Mart at Eastview Mall. He thinks his business can reopen safely, following guidelines set up to deal with the coronavirus.

“I have 8,000 square feet of space and the maximum number of people I have in my store at a time I think is going to be 2 or 3 people. So I don’t understand it,” Sattari said.

Wilmorite, which owns Eastview, Marketplace, Greece Ridge and Pittsford Plaza put out a statement saying it is extremely disappointed with the decision to keep malls closed and is willing to work with the state to find ways of reopening parts of the mall in phases.

Cuomo told reporters on Wednesday that the state has to follow the data, and he’s consulting with his top health officials.

“Dr. Zucker, health commissioner, who had guided me through all of this, studies the data, wants an informed decision. We’re not saying Phase 5, we’re just saying we’ve gotten some new information on how the virus spreads, we’re still studying it, we’ll have a decision as soon as we process all the information.” Cuomo would not predict when the malls, gyms and movie theaters can reopen.

Cuomo said there are some reports that malls, bars and social clubs with air conditioning, may not be cleansing the air of the virus, and just recirculating it.

Wilmorite responded that the HVAC system in the mall common areas is equivalent to what any other grocery store, discount retail store or office building would have. The company said it is diligent about filter cleaning and maintenance and has recently made upgrades.