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North Georgia Outlets reopen after extended closures
North Georgia Premium Outlets
The North Georgia Premium Outlet Mall in Dawson County is adding several new stores to its center this season. - photo by File photo

The North Georgia Premium Outlets in Dawson County, along with 49 malls and outlets owned by the Simon Property Group, began reopening on Friday. 

Closed since March 18 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the outlets and six other Simon Property locations in Georgia reopened with new security and safety measures over the weekend. 

"The health, safety and well-being of those we serve will always be our highest priority, and we have developed a thorough and detailed set of protocols highlighting the exceptional measures we’ve implemented to safeguard shoppers, retailers and employees as we reopen,” John Rulli, president of Simon said in a press release on Monday. “We also recognize that individuals and families in our communities are suffering significant hardship as a result of both COVID-19 and the economic shutdown, and we believe that reopening our properties will not only help people get back to work during these challenging times, but also enable us to use our properties to further support charitable initiatives." 

According to the release, added safety features at the mall will include overnight cleanings of common areas such as food courts, escalators and doorknobs will be subject to regular sanitization.  

Simon has also encouraged all shoppers to take their temperatures prior to visiting the mall and at each location, free temperature testing by infrared thermometers will be available to customers. 

Shoppers will be required to wear face coverings while shopping and employees will be required to wear masks while working. Free CDC-approved masks and hand sanitizing packets may also be available to shoppers who request them, the release stated.

Tennants at the outlets, according to the release, are expected to follow similar safety standards. 

But according to prospective shoppers and local residents, even though the outlets themselves have reopened, many tenants at the center have not followed suit yet.

Dawsonville resident Lydia Burnett said that she and her son headed out to the outlets on Sunday hoping to shop for new clothes at the Under Armor and Adidas stores, but were dismayed to find the shopping center deserted. 

“There were minimal cars in the parking lot, and just a few people walking around. It looked the lights were off in most stores,” Burnett said. “I almost questioned if they had, in fact, reopened. There were such few people that social distancing wasn’t an issue.”

Burnett said that with growing boys needing clothes she’ll have to come back to the outlets in a month or so, but until then they’ll be watching for more stores to announce their openings online. 

Other Simon Property Group locations in Georgia that reopened over the weekend include the Mall of Georgia, Sugarloaf Mills, Town Center at Cobb, Phipps Plaza, Lenox Square and Calhoun Outlet Marketplace.