As Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms opposes Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's relaunching of the state's economy, the city's two biggest malls plan to reopen Friday.
Without a directive from Kemp or Bottoms, Lenox Square Mall and nearby Phipps Plaza in Buckhead will open their doors for limited hours. While Macy's and other stores plan to open, other businesses likely will remain closed.
Phipps' AMC Cinema would be allowed to reopen under Kemp's directive that reopened hair salons, bowling alleys, restaurants and tattoo parlors. But movie companies are not releasing new films at present.
Big crowds aren't expected. But any number of people in the food courts or public passageways will strain "social distancing" regulations.
The malls' opening appears an even more decisive step toward abandoning rules to control the pandemic as coronavirus deaths keep rising in Georgia. Reopening Lenox and Phipps will bring a much larger gathering of people than a barbershop or restaurant, while Georgia lags the nation in coronavirus testing and contact tracking.
Even small numbers of people at funerals or social events have caused big rises in Covid-19 infections. Just 50 people showing up at a mall could ignite a large outbreak.