COLONIE — Colonie Center will reopen on Saturday 11 a.m.
Earlier this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the public areas of malls in areas already under Phase IV could reopen on Friday provided they install High Efficiency Particulate Air filters with a Minimum Efficiently Reporting Value of at least 11.
“Beyond following all state government mandates, the center will be taking additional steps to promote a safe environment,” said Marissa McCarren, marketing and business development manager at Colonie Center.
There will be hand sanitizer stations throughout the mall, self-cleaning “nano-septic skins” on high frequency touchpoints and an increased rotation of cleaning throughout the mall.
Crossgates Mall will open on Friday, said Jennifer Smith, the mall’s marketing director who works for the umbrella company Pyramid Management Group.
The filters required for malls were not required at big box stores like Walmart, Target and Home Depot which remained open through the entire pandemic.
When COVID-19 is airborne it is carried by particles of about .125 microns and there are HEPA filters that can filter particles as small as .01 microns.
Cuomo is requiring malls to install a HEPA filter with a MERV of at least 11 but is recommending malls use filters with a MERV value of 13. Filters are rated on a MERV scale of 1 to 16 with the higher number representing a higher efficiency of removing particles.
To put it into context, while COVID particles are .125 microns, a grain of sand is between 100 and 2,000 microns, pollen is between 10 and 50 microns and tobacco smoke is between .01 and 3 microns.
The issue is the more you restrict airflow by filtering, the harder the system has to work and older systems may not be powerful enough to work in an efficient manner if at all, especially when they are large enough to accommodate a space the size of a mall.
Retail with an entrance independent of a malls’ common space were allowed to open along with other retail but many smaller stores were not allowed to do business.
Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, who lobbied to have malls open in Phase III, said there are more than 2,500 jobs at Crossgates alone.
“The reopening of malls in the Capital Region is a huge victory for the hundreds of business owners and thousands of jobs that they represent here in Albany County,” he said. “This is an important step in getting more people back to work and addressing our budget deficit.”
Most of upstate, including the eight-county Capital District, is in Phase IV but gyms, casinos and movie theaters remain shuttered.