Add shopping malls with large indoor common areas, bowling alleys, arcades, aquariums, and other places of public amusement to the growing number of places in the state that are being ordered to close as officials attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Gov. Ned Lamont on Wednesday issued an executive order to shut down those establishments effective as of 8 p.m. Thursday. The order will be in place through April 30, “unless earlier modified, extended, or terminated by me,” it states.
Westfield Meriden mall is one of 10 statewide specifically named in Lamont's order.
Businesses and other establishments that have their own entrances separate from the malls' main entrances are permitted to remain open to the public. Westfield manager Chris Powers issued a statement early Thursday morning.
“I want to emphasize that we are still here for you,” he said. “Now more than ever, it’s critical that we not only take necessary measures to help protect ourselves and those we love, but also remain optimistic. Envisioning brighter days ahead is sure to summon our most positive and proactive selves — I certainly see time and again in our community how challenges don’t beat us down, but instead bring out the best in us.”
The doors had already been temporarily locked at some businesses, including Boscov's department store at the Westfield mall.
Jim Boscov, the store's CEO and chairman, announced the temporary closure of the chain's 49 stores in an email to customers Wednesday afternoon.
“We are doing this because we believe it is the most effective way to stop the spread of COVID 19, and we urge all business[es] and individuals to follow the best advice of the medical community and be part of the solution,” Boscov wrote.
The mall itself was still open, albeit under a modified schedule Wednesday evening. The strains of “Bitter Sweet Symphony” by the ’90s British rock band The Verge could be heard through the mall’s public announcement speakers a few minutes before its 7 p.m. closing time. The mall was mostly empty, with only a few employees and customers walking past businesses that had already closed.
The governor’s directive does not apply to public parks and other open recreation areas, the order states.
Wallingford Bowl on North Colony Road had also closed ahead of the governor’s mandate.
An undated sign posted on the main entrance announced the closure, stating, “We love to bowl. And we love it when you bowl with us. But your safety is — and will always be — our top priority.”
The notice states would-be bowlers can still bowl in the safety and comfort of their own homes, thanks to video game consoles like Xbox One and Playstation.
“We can't wait to see you back on the lanes — and we'll let you know when we're once again ready to roll,” reads the notice.