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South Coast Plaza reopens for indoor shoppers as California relaxes some COVID-19 restrictions

Shoppers follow social-distancing etiquette outside a Louis Vuitton store at South Coast Plaza on June 11.
Shoppers follow social-distancing etiquette at South Coast Plaza on June 11. After closing a second time amid the pandemic, the mall reopened Monday.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

South Coast Plaza, Orange County’s renowned upscale shopping center, reopened for in-person shopping Monday as California relaxed some business restrictions put in place to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Although not all boutiques are open and store hours vary, officials said more than 100 shops had reopened this week, with outdoor dining, takeout and curbside pickup available at more than 20 restaurants.

The Costa Mesa mall’s hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. Seniors, those with underlying health conditions and other at-risk groups have reserved blocks of time for shopping — 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday and Saturday.

In announcing the reopening, center officials said their “ongoing commitment to your health and safety is unwavering” and that they had adopted “higher-than-ever standards for cleanliness, based on advice from public health officials and top industrial hygienists.”

“Our numerous efforts include installing a state-of-the-art air treatment system, implementing social distancing practices, improving our protocol for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces frequently throughout the center and more,” according to South Coast Plaza’s website.

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Face coverings are required, and some amenities — such as valet parking, drinking fountains, stroller and wheelchair rentals, and carousels — will remain unavailable for now.

Despite the precautions, center officials acknowledged there was “an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 in any public place where people are present, and our shopping center is not immune.”

That, officials wrote on South Coast Plaza’s website, “is what makes our health and safety protocols for the center, such as mandatory face coverings, social distancing, continuous sanitizing, improved air quality and taking the temperatures of our employees, so important.”

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South Coast Plaza, like businesses throughout California, has had to navigate a shifting landscape of coronavirus-related health orders over the last several months.

The center closed in mid-March after a store employee tested positive for the coronavirus. The closure was originally planned to last two weeks, but officials later announced the mall would remain closed indefinitely.

South Coast Plaza reopened June 11, welcoming back long lines of shoppers, but had to shutter enclosed access to its boutiques and restaurants roughly a month later, when California reimposed many business restrictions in response to a spike in COVID-19 infections.

Under new rules Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled Friday, retail stores and shopping malls are now permitted to open at a maximum of 25% capacity.

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The coronavirus outbreak has prompted the center to find creative ways to operate.

Earlier this month, South Coast Plaza opened what it called the Pavilion — a collection of by-appointment, open-air shopping suites in its northern parking structure.

The center also launched a contact-free curbside pickup program, called SCP 2 Go, in May.


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