South Florida businesses feel effects of COVID-19

Malls cancel kids’ programs, close downplay areas

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The COVID-19 pandemic could be devastating to local shopping malls, restaurants and movie theaters. Many workers are afraid of losing their jobs. With the weekend coming up, the question is if people will get bored of the self-quarantine and want to go out or will they stay in.

Coralys Soto, a waitress on Las Olas Boulevard and a college student, said she is worried about paying her bills, but she is also worried about her health because she interacts with the public.

“It’s a hard situation,” Soto said.

While doctors are asking people to stay away from large gatherings and distance themselves from others, South Florida malls will remain open.

On Friday, there were not as many shoppers as usual at Sawgrass Mills Mall. There was hand sanitizer at the door and sales signs up.

A shopper survey by Coresight Research reported that 27.5 percent of 1,934 adults questioned said they’re currently avoiding public spaces due to the deadly virus, according to Modern Retail magazine.

Some shoppers said they had mixed reactions about being out and about after warnings about the new coronavirus. One man said he wasn’t concerned.

“It’s no different than the common cold,” he said.

A female shopper hadn’t decided whether she’d be going out or staying in this weekend. One shopper had already made up her mind that she was staying in all weekend.

“I am not going out," she said. "I’ll be glued to my television set.”

Aventura Mall did not have anything posted on its website about any changes. Local 10 was told their slide and kids’ playground would be closed.

Dolphin Mall issued a statement that they had already added additional cleaning crews for deep cleaning and sanitation of the mall before they learned that a shopper confirmed to have COVID-19 was known to be in the center on March 8. A statement from Dolphin Mall said there are no known cases of center employees with COVID-19

The mall has placed additional hand sanitizer stations throughout the center, canceled all mall events, regardless of size, through the end of March, canceled its annual “Bunnyville” Easter experience, closed the center play area, and reduced seating capacity in the food court to create more social distancing in that area.

About the Authors:

Jeff Weinsier joined Local 10 News in September 1994. He is currently an investigative reporter for Local 10. He is also responsible for the very popular Dirty Dining segments.

Michelle F. Solomon is a multi-platform producer/reporter for Local10 and is the podcast producer/reporter/host of the station's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and producer of's DigiShorts.