Hilo mall to remain open — for now

  • Tribune-Herald file photo Shoppers on Feb. 13, 2019, at Prince Kuhio Plaza in Hilo check out Valentine’s baskets created by Carmela Orchids.

Even as several national retail franchises temporarily suspend operations to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Prince Kuhio Plaza in Hilo will remain open for the time being.

Starting today, several chains with locations in the mall will close temporarily: American Eagle and Claire’s will close until March 27, Bath &Body Works until the March 29, Macy’s until March 31 and the Regal Cinemas theater will close indefinitely.

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All the mall’s businesses that closed today, save for Regal Cinemas, promised to continue to provide employees benefits and compensation for their scheduled work during the closure.

However, the mall itself will remain open, said Daniel Kea, general manager of Prince Kuhio Plaza, although it will make some changes to minimize social interaction.

“As of Monday, we’re running modified hours, where we’re open at 12 o’clock noon until 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and then on Sunday, we’re open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.,” Kea said. “But it’s up to the businesses whether they want to close.”

On Tuesday, gathering spaces within the mall, such as the food court, were adjusted to reduce human interaction: tables and chairs were strategically removed to discourage people from lingering in one location, while making more space between seated parties.

Kea said the mall might remove more seating locations soon in order to better encourage social distancing.

Although several stores will be closed until at least the end of the month, the mall was no more busy Tuesday than one might expect for a weekday afternoon. Several Macy’s shoppers were completely unaware of the store’s imminent closure, saying they were only there incidentally and wouldn’t be strongly impacted by its temporary absence.

Despite the closure of shopping locations within the mall, Kea said he is unconcerned about the future of the mall.

“Our mall is pretty stable because of our owners,” Kea said, referring to real estate company Brookfield Properties. “I think the mall has a lot of longevity here.”

Kea predicted that the mall should be able to rebound if the coronavirus situation continues for two to three months.

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“The company is more than prepared for this kind of thing,” he said.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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