Coronavirus news: City leaders slam Philadelphia Mills mall for not closing

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia Mills Mall closed its doors Wednesday afternoon shortly after city leaders publicly shamed the shopping center for failing to adhere to the mayor's order to shut down all nonessential businesses.

"Unfortunately there are some who have continued to operate," said city managing director Brian Abernathy during the early afternoon news conference Wednesday. "Businesses like the Philadelphia Mills Mall. I am disappointed by their inability and irresponsibility and as such we have sent the police and L&I to shut down that business. If you can't be responsible we will be responsible for you."

Shortly after the news conference, the mall shut its doors indefinitely.

Brikell Eddie, a clothing store employee, said a guard came into the store and said the mall is closing until further notice.

Shoppers said they were escorted to the doors of the mall.

Despite Mayor Jim Kenney's order calling for non-essential businesses to close Monday, Philadelphia Mills didn't, but mall management had hung signs indicating shortened business hours due to the virus.

Employees of a shoe store said mall management had declined to close the shopping center despite their requests.

"They don't care about our safety, said a shoe store employee. "I feel like they should have closed the mall Monday when they said 5 p.m. is the time to close all non-essential stores."

Action News contacted the mall's parent company, Simon Property Group, but had not immediately received a response.

A spokesperson for the Department of Licenses and Inspections said the mall closed down on its own after hearing the news conference over the radio.

Outside the city, it appeared many non-essential businesses complied with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf's recommendation to close. But since it's not required, Retro Fitness at Pennell and Dutton Mills Roads in Aston has remained open.

"I do have concerns. I was thinking about not going," said Zack Fidelibus of Aston.

But plenty of folks are escaping their homes and heading to the gym.

Management told Action News until the governor's request is an actual order they are committed to offering their customers a clean place to work out and blow off steam.

"I'm really grateful this is open. There's nothing else to do. I ain't going to change what I do."

"I wash my hands when I get there when I leave. I wipe down weights the bench everything," said Fidelibus.
Copyright © 2020 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.