CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Charleston Town Center Mall is back open for business.

The mall opened its doors at 11:00 Thursday morning with 12 merchants inside ready for business following the March shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a gradual process,” Lisa McCracken, a consultant for the Charleston Town Center Mall said. “It will be gradual, measured and monitored. Today (Thursday) we are happy to have the center reopen with about a dozen merchants and restaurants.”

Social distancing guidelines are in place at the mall for guests including entrances and exits being dedicated specifically on doors, stairwells being dedicated as being up or down, parking cars in the garage every other space, and urging customers to provide at least five steps on the escalator between the next guest.

McCracken said guidelines have also been set for the three restaurants that are currently open at the food court.

“There has been a great reduction of tables as well as social distancing of the placement of tables and the number of chairs permitted. As the food court restaurants come on board there will be social distancing decals placed on the floors to guide guests when waiting in line,” she said.

Food court restaurants were able to reopen on Thursday as dine-in options were given the go last week by Gov. Jim Justice. That includes three of the center’s street-level restaurants: Chili’s, Outback and Panera Bread. McCracken said Chop House and Tidewater Grill plan to reopen on May 27.

The popular Chick-Fil-A and Starbucks inside the center will be reopening in the coming weeks, McCracken added.

VIEW: The list of stores and restaurants reopening

Some stores may not reopen at all in the mall including Shoe Dept., JC Penney and Books-A-Million. McCracken said the Shoe Dept. is determining whether or not to reopen many stores across the country including the mall location.

JC Penney is closing dozens of stores after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week.

“We have not received word from JC Penney of their plans. Our last conversation with the JC Penney manager, he too was awaiting direction from his corporate supervisors,” McCracken said.

Merchants that reopened on Thursday included Altar’d State, Alumni Hall, Buckle, Dakota Watch Company, Hallmark, Journeys, Nail Studio, Rack Room Shoes, Shipwreck Collection Market, the Post Office, Charley’s, and Zumiez.

Mall officials said workers are constantly cleaning high touch point areas and have set up hand sanitizing stations.

The mall will be operating under new hours Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Retailer and restaurant hours will vary by business.