Retailers reopen across Houston giving shoppers first look at new reality

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Shoppers returned to stores in Harris County Friday, but were greeted with a lot of major changes.

Dena Pappas, an employee at Hemline at CityCentre, said she's excited to get back to work.

"It's so nice to have a change of scenery from your house to a boutique," Pappas said.

RELATED: Texas reopening shouldn't be seen as celebration, Harris Co. judge says

Customers are welcome back, but it's not business as usual.

Pappas said she's not only restocking shelves, but she's also wiping down racks, products and surfaces.

"I'm not nervous," Pappas explained. "I think it's going to be difficult to have people coming in after this break, but I think that once people feel comfortable enough to come, it'll be great."

The stores are also offering masks to customers, making them social distance and limiting the amount of people they allow inside at once.

"It didn't feel that much different," shopper Mair said. "It was people wearing the mask and people distancing, things like that."

Gov. Greg Abbott's order requires stores to take precautions when reopening, including keeping stores below 25 percent occupancy.

At Simon Properties, including the Galleria, they're disinfecting high traffic areas. They are also providing hand sanitation stations, CDC signs, employee screenings and offering masks and wipes to customers.

Although the governor's order doesn't mandate masks, some stores are requiring customers to wear them.

"I've been wanting to shop for the last 45 to 60 days, and I've been wanting to engage and eat at a restaurant and not out of a box," shopper Charles Patawaran said.

The reopening is a big deal in Harris County. U.S. Census numbers show there are more than 200,000 retail workers and more than 13,000 stores.

At CityCentre, about half of the businesses opened its doors on Friday.

Other malls are still offering retail to-go.

Brookfield Properties, which operates First Colony Mall, Baybrook Mall, the Woodlands Mall, Willowbrook Mall, and Deerbrook Mall plans to reopen on Tuesday, May 5.

Tanger Houston said stores are allowed to reopen, but it's planning a reopening event on Friday, May 15.

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