Reopening the mall may potentially put us at risk


Makenzie Huber

After being fully closed since March 18, the Sioux Falls Empire Mall plans to reopen its doors at 11a.m. on May 8.

Madeleine Kemper, Staff Writer

After being fully closed since March 18, the Sioux Falls Empire Mall plans to reopen its doors at 11a.m. on May 8. 

The Empire Mall, owned by Simon Property group, which also owns 107 other malls across the country, plans to begin reopening locations a few at a time, starting with the ones in South Dakota, Arizona, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. These openings, however, will not be without new restrictions and guidelines to ensure customer health and safety. Not only will there be signs reminding customers to stay six feet apart, but stricter regulations will be enforced with mall employees too. 

“Employees will take their temperature before coming to work and it will also be checked at work. If a worker has a temp higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, they will be sent home. Employees will also not be allowed to work if they experience any symptoms of the new Coronavirus 72 hours before their shift,” said Keloland reporter Whitney Fowkes.

Even with these precautions being taken, as someone who has continually heard the daily updates of new Coronavirus cases in Minnehaha county, it leaves me to question if these reopenings are too optimistic, too soon. Since the outbreak, Minnehaha county has had over 2,000 confirmed cases alone. While the CDC has reported that roughly half of these cases have recovered, the virus has still continued to spread even with the social distancing guidelines already in place. It does appear that we have made progress in limiting the number of new cases each day, however, as 180 new cases on April 15 was reduced to only 58 new cases on May 6. I fear that this demonstrated improvement will begin to decline with the reopening of large public places like the mall.

With new safety measures in place, it is necessary to question how long these will be in effect and at what point it will be determined that these precautions are no longer necessary. In addition to the reopening of the mall, bars and sit-down restaurants have begun to open back up with similar guidelines in place for distances between tables. It seems realistic to understand that public places wouldn’t fully open up all at once, but for me, it’s hard to understand what mark of improvement will get us to that point. Because of the substantial amount of new cases each day, I struggle to believe we have healed enough from the pandemic to reevaluate and enact large changes in social environments.

I also want things to return to normal and to end the practice of social distancing, but how much of the reopenings are due to permanent recovery or wishful thinking? We have to remain careful and be aware that, until the virus stops spreading, we are still at risk. In order to not lose the progress we have already made, consider staying home, at least until the numbers stop rising.