Miami International Mall workers and patrons unsure about pandemic protocol

As they help customers search for holiday gifts, both workers and patrons at Miami International Mall have mixed feelings about the stores’ varied masking, sanitation and social-distancing rules.

Mall shopper Arlen Caceres said she felt fine.

“I haven’t had anybody without their mask and if they have, they’re really far from me,” she said. “I work at an office clinic, so it doesn’t even phase me being with a bunch of people at the same time.”

Caceres, a nursing student at Miami Regional University, said she was surprised some stores are only letting a certain number of people in and had no improvements to mention.

“Usually, the malls are making a lot of restrictions to how many people they’re letting in their stores,” she said. “I think they’re doing a pretty good job.”

However, Elizabeth Cardero, a patron of the mall and mother, had a different opinion.

“In some stores, I noticed there were a lot of people and there wasn’t control over the number of people like the Disney Store,” she said. “I saw that people just kept on going in and that there were too many people inside when they should’ve limited it.”

Cardero said she would like to see improvement in store policies through monitoring foot traffic and closing fitting rooms.

“It’s a bit uncomfortable but it’s best to close the fitting rooms especially when people’s hands are touching everything,” Cardero said.

A former employee of Francesca’s, a women’s clothing store, Natasha Lopez said that even though she felt safe in her work environment, she wishes the store had done more. It closed due to poor sales, which she blamed on the pandemic.

“I think they definitely would have been more effective if we were more consistent because there were times in which we would get caught up in the foot traffic,” she said.

Francesca’s required individuals to wear a mask while in-store and provided sanitizing stations for customers. The fitting room was also available for use in the store and associates frequently cleaned the area.

Lopez added that it would have been a good idea either to close the fitting room or reduce the number of items customers were allowed to take in.

“Maybe the constant handing things to each other and exchanging [of items] because we did allow people to change clothes and try on our clothes,” she said. “Which means that they would leave the clothes they tried on the fitting room and that would lead to a lot of hand-to-hand touching.”

According to the Census Bureau, there has been a 37.1% increase in online purchases since early September.

Cardero said she shops online frequently, but sometimes feels the desire of doing it in-person.

“I like to go in-store especially when buying personal items like clothing,” she said. “Because of the situation what I usually do is if I have to go, I try to go in the morning or in the times where I see there are fewer people.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified Arlen Caceres. She is a shopper, not a mall worker.

Adriana is currently studying for a major in journalism with a specific track in the arts. Her hobbies are dissecting films and learning more about the world around her via news and reading.