Where you'll be able to go shopping in the suburbs starting Friday
With Illinoisans eager for the looser restrictions that accompany Phase 3 of the state's COVID-19 reopening plan, suburban retailers are preparing to welcome customers as soon as Friday.
Malls in Vernon Hills, Deer Park, Aurora and elsewhere are readying for shoppers, as are stores in smaller centers.
But representatives for two of the suburbs' largest malls -- Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg and Gurnee Mills in Gurnee -- aren't saying when they'll reopen. Both are owned by the Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group.
"Simon is complying with all state and local orders and is opening properties when permitted to do so," Simon spokeswoman Jacqueline Boselli said.
It'll be up to the individual retailers to decide when to open their stores.
To allow more time for cleaning after business hours, both malls will operate on reduced schedules for the first 30 days. Signs at entrances and throughout the malls will remind people to wear masks, wash hands and continue social distancing practices.
In the food courts, tables will be cleaned and covered with butcher paper after each diner departs. Food will be served in to-go containers.
Stores at the Deer Park Town Center mall will begin reopening based on their individual corporate directives, said Lisa Blaszinski, the center's general manager. Some had been offering curbside pickup service during the crisis, and that should continue, she said.
To keep people safe, Deer Park's cleaning staff will sanitize and disinfect areas and surfaces that are likely to be contacted frequently by shoppers, Blaszinski said. Hand sanitizer stations have been added and disposable face masks will be available.
The Elgin Shopping Mall, which mostly caters to the Latino community, will reopen Friday. Face coverings will be mandatory for all visitors, as will social distancing.
Lombard's Yorktown Center mall doesn't have a reopening date. Many of its stores and restaurants offer curbside service, and that will continue even after the mall reopens to customers, said Emily Barack, the mall's marketing and business development manager.
It's not just mall operators that are grateful for permission to resume business. So are the owners of independent stores like Libertyville's Dreamland Comics, which will reopen Friday.
The COVID-19 crisis has been particularly tough for the comic book world. Some publishers ordered writers and artists to stop working, and the industry's primary book distributor temporarily stopped sending shipments to stores. Some shops folded.
"We have done a few online sales during the shutdown in an attempt to cover our expenses," owner Charlie Balicki said. "I haven't paid myself in two months."
• Daily Herald staff writer Elena Ferrarin contributed to this report.