Westfield Valley Fair in San Jose prepares to reopen Monday: 'It's a fever pitch'

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Preparations are underway at Northern California's largest mall as retailers look forward to the return of customers. Valley Fair, which is located on the border between San Jose and Santa Clara, is expected to reopen Monday after receiving the green light from county health officials.

"It's a fever pitch," said Mark Sullivan, vice president and general manager of Bloomingdale's. "Everybody is so excited to be back (and) to really be getting the store ready," he said.

The luxury retailer, which had only been open for 11 days prior to closing in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will require all employees to complete a wellness check at the start of each shift, which includes a temperature screening. They're also getting extra training related to customer engagement, since face coverings are now required for entry.

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"We talk a lot about body language. We talk about the level of communication that's required (and) lots of more questions to understand what it is you can do to bring that level of service that our customers are expecting," said Sullivan.

In the mall's common areas, Westfield has taken great measures to help customers feel safe. At more than 2.2 million square feet, Valley Fair's footprint allows for five times the amount of required space per shopper, based on the mall's annual traffic count.

"As we release restrictions, we want to be smart about it (and) follow public health guidelines," said Dr. Thomas Plante, a psychology professor at Santa Clara University. "But I think when the malls open up (and) other things open up, it gives people hope that we're going to come out of this okay, one way or the other."

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Hand sanitizing stations, as well as reminders about social distancing have been placed throughout the property, including signs telling shoppers to keep their distance on the escalators, elevators, and walkways. The food court will be open for business, but chairs won't return until sit down dining is permitted by the county.

In the next week, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, which owns Valley Fair, plans to launch a capacity management tool that will customers to go online to see how many people are on-site at any given time.

"Technology should be an enabler," said Ghadi Hobeika, URW's chief marketing officer. "Technology should make it easier on people or offer more choices and more convenience."

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The company will also unveil a new app feature called 'Line Pass' which helps stores with offering shopping by appointment.

"It's a service that enables our customers to either book an appointment at a given tenant, or to put their name on a virtual wait list, and then we'll indicate to these customers when it is the time for them to head to the store," said Hobeika.

Valley Fair will open on Monday with modified shopping hours. Click here for more information.

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