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Phase Two opens, malls don't

Berkeley Brean
Created: May 29, 2020 06:21 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — There was some confusion this week over Phase Two. Business owners, town and county officials and the media were not getting any real, definitive direction on when it would start from the governor's office. 

Phase Two opened Friday, exactly two weeks from the opening of Phase One. 

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One business that thought it was going to reopen, malls, got pulled from Phase Two. 

I got a statement from the owner of the Mall at Greece Ridge. The statement from Wilmorite says they got cut out of Phase Two at the last minute and it's disappointing for the people who were ready to come back to work.

"The mall tenants do not understand why they are being singled out and are asking us for an explanation, which can only be provided by the Governor's office," the statement reads. 

I emailed the governor's press office today and asked what is the governor's explanation or rationale? 

Gov. Cuomo's press office says malls, by their very nature, create an "indoor mass gathering situation."

I also asked the question to Bob Duffy, head of the group that compiles and relays health stats from our region to the governor's reopening team. 

Brean: "Why were malls not included in Phase Two?"

Bob Duffy, CEO, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce: "I asked that question today as well because retail is open. Malls by virtue of the way they're set up you have a high probability of density of people going in."

Earlier this week, Wilmorite wrote a letter to tenants to tell them to be prepared to open next Monday. One of those tenants is Falicia Fracassi. She owns Fracassi Lashes stores at the Mall at Greece Ridge and three in Florida. 

Brean: "Are you on your way back to Rochester now?"

Falicia Fracassi, Fracassi Lashes: "Yes, I'm on my way back to Rochester as we speak."

She came thinking she would reopen, but Friday the governor's office decided malls will remain closed. 

Brean: "How do you feel about that?"

Falicia Fracassi: "I'm a little frustrated. I'm frustrated but I also understand it. But I'm in the car on my way home and I've got no way to go now. I thought we were going to be opening."

The governor's office says mall stores that you can enter from the outside are allowed to open. And stores in malls can reopen and provide curbside deliveries. 

In the statement, Wilmorite wrote, "the malls have 30+ foot wide common areas, which is more space to social distance than a sidewalk or 6 foot aisle in a big box store. Our hope is that the Governor's office will reconsider and allow enclosed shopping centers to open soon."

Phase Three can start in at least two weeks.


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