Many American states have begun to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, but shopping malls all across the country still resemble ghost towns.
Known for being thriving social hubs and a key part of the American economy, dozens of malls remained abandoned this week, despite opening back up for businesses.
In Florida, Georgia and Texas, there were were empty parking lots, deserted food courts and roped-off play areas as people continue to stay at home during the COVID-19 outbreak.
While both President Trump and state governors have been talking about the importance of reopening the economy, it seems many are still fearful of heading out to shop.
As of Friday afternoon, more than 1.3 million Americans have tested positive to COVID-19, and 77,925 have died.
Anxiety about the virus is coupled with soaring unemployment numbers, with many people now without the disposable income required to shop at the mall.
The unemployment rate currently stands at 14.7 percent, the worst since the Depression era. More than 20 million people lost their jobs in the month of April alone.
NAPLES, FLORIDA: Many American states have begun to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, but shopping malls all across the country still resemble ghost towns. A near empty parking lot at the Coastland Center is pictured on Friday
NAPLES, FLORIDA: While both President Trump and state governors have been talking about the importance of reopening the economy, it seems many are still fearful of heading out to shop
ATLANTA, GEORGIA: Shopping centers have largely reopened in Georgia, but many shops inside remain closed
AUSTIN, TEXAS: A lone man at a kiosk is seen inside the Barton Creek Square Mall on Wednesday
In Florida on Friday, the Coastland Center shopping mall in Naples was eerily quiet, despite being open to the public.
Gov Ron DeSantis allowed most malls in the state to reopen on Monday, as long as they operated at a 25 per cent capacity.
But it seems most stores won’t be turning people away for fear of overcrowding, with only a handful of shoppers seen inside.
Many stores inside the facility remained shuttered, and play areas for children were blocked off.
Coastland Center had spaced out seats in its food court to respect social distancing, but given how quiet is was, there was no risk of coming within six foot of a fellow shopper.
NAPLES, FLORIDA: In Florida on Friday, the Coastland Center shopping mall in Naples was eerily quiet, despite being open to the public
NAPLES, FLORIDA: Coastland Center had spaced out seats in its food court to respect social distancing, but given how quiet is was, there was no risk of coming within six foot of a fellow shopper
NAPLES, FLORIDA: Some sinks were blocked off in public bathrooms
NAPLES, FLORIDA: Play areas for children have been shut off
NAPLES, FLORIDA: One young shopper appeared disappointed to see that play areas
Meanwhile, many shopping centers in Georgia reopened on Thursday, but there appeared to be tepid interest from the public.
Only a few shoppers were seen inside the Lennox Square Mall in Atlanta. They sensibly donned masks and gloves as they headed out to stock up,
The mall’s owners had also closed off some seating and tables with blue tape so that consumers would be able to maintain a safe social distance.
Scenes of desertion inside the once thriving malls come as the nation becomes increasingly divided in its response to the pandemic.
Anti-lockdown protesters have been marching on capitol buildings in recent weeks to demand an end to lockdowns, which they say quashes their liberty and irreparably damages businesses, jobs and the economy
NAPLES, FLORIDA: Seating areas were deserted inside the Coastland Center
NAPLES, FLORIDA: While some stores, including Verizon, were opened back up, many remained shuttered. Game areas were also blocked off
NAPLES, FLORIDA: Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer could be seen set up at the front of this game center
NAPLES, FLORIDA: With many people now out of work, they are without the disposable income needed
NAPLES, FLORIDA: Anxiety about the virus is coupled with soaring unemployment numbers, leaving many shopping malls all-but-empty
They have been met by counter-protesters and the pleas of medical experts who insist social distancing is working and that returning to business as usual too soon will trigger a renewed spike in deaths and infections.
White House guidelines recommend states can begin easing lockdown restrictions when they have seen a 14-day trajectory in new cases or positive test rates.
But at least 17 reopening states including Alabama, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah have not seen this downward trend, according to analysis by the Associated Press.
Some states have even reopened while daily cases and positive test rates for the deadly virus have continued to climb.
ATLANTA, GEORGIA: aany shopping centers in Georgia reopened on Thursday, but there appeared to be tepid interest from the public
ATLANTA, GEORGIA: Shoppers could safely space out as they strolled through the near-empty Lennox Square Mall
ATLANTA, GEORGIA: As in many other malls across the country, some stores inside Lennox Square chose to stay closed
ATLANTA, GEORGIA: Shoppers sensibly donned masks while out at the mall
ATLANTA, GEORGIA: The mall’s owners had also closed off some seating and tables with blue tape so that consumers would be able to maintain a safe social distance
DOUGLASVILLE, GEORGIA: Many stores were back open in Arbor Place Mall on Monday, but there few patrons
President Donald Trump said Thursday he trusted the governors to make the right decisions.
‘The governors have great power as to that, given by us,’ he told reporters.
‘We want them to do that. We rely on them. We trust them. And hopefully they are making the right decisions.’
He added that he supported Texas Governor Greg Abbott in his push to reopen: ‘Texas is opening up and a lot of places are opening up. And we want to do it, and I’m not sure that we even have a choice. I think we have to do it. You know, this country can’t stay closed and locked down for years.’
The Trump administration shelved a 17-page Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guide containing step-by-step advice to help local authorities reopen for business safely just days after it was set to be published.
The report – supposed to be published last Friday – ‘would never see the light of day,’ a CDC official told the Associated Press.
TAMPA, FLORIDA: A handful of shoppers are seen inside the International Mall on Wednesday
TAMPA, FLORIDA: Sensible shoppers donned masks as they made their way through International Mall
TAMPA, FLORIDA: Many malls have ramped up their cleaning and disinfecting services