Syracuse, New York – After a moderate start to Black Friday at Destiny USA this morning, it looked like the coronavirus pandemic had held many shoppers home.
But by dinner time on Friday, the mall crowd had swelled in size. Queues gathered outside dozens of stores, as employees sought to keep the number of buyers under capacity.
Santa has also started his program of shopping malls on Black Friday, but children are not allowed to sit on his lap. Instead, they can talk to Santa from a distance. Families must wear masks and are encouraged to make reservations. Between shifts, Santa’s costume is sprayed with disinfectant.
“Keeping the greatest holiday tradition alive is more important than ever,” said Nikita Jankowski, Director of Marketing for Destiny USA. “We also need to evolve over time and do it safely.”
The coronavirus orange zone, which went into effect this week in Syracuse, bans indoor dining but allows restaurants to serve dinners outside. Johnny Rockets customers, for example, were not allowed to dine inside the mall restaurant due to these restrictions.
But a short distance away, in the mall’s food court, shoppers filled all the tables at dinner time and diners took off their masks to eat and drink.
Earlier this week, a spokesperson for the state’s health department said no food should be eaten inside the mall, period. Destiny USA officials declined to comment.
Destiny USA is the sixth largest shopping mall in the country. Black Friday is usually the busiest day of the year.
Experts said shopping in person during the pandemic was not a good idea at all. Even though parts of Onondaga County, including Destiny USA, are in a coronavirus orange zone, retailers can still operate if they adhere to capacity restrictions and social distancing.
The number of new confirmed coronavirus cases in the state today soared to 8,176, the highest number of single-day cases since April 24, according to state data. Four other people in Onondaga County died from the coronavirus today. A total of 235 county residents have died from the virus.
MORE ABOUT CORONAVIRUS
Oneida County coronavirus cases nearly double record: ‘Very alarming’
Tracers lag as coronavirus rises in Onondaga County, threatening sinister spiral
With 3 new coronavirus deaths, Onondaga County has deadliest day in 5 months
Onondaga County cannot keep up with the coronavirus. We are all contact tracers
SUBDUED START TO BLACK FRIDAY (Pictures):