Masked and distanced, about 120 people waited outside for Rosedale Center to open at 11 a.m. Monday.
Within 10 minutes, about 220 people passed through the main entrance, said vice president and general manager Lisa Crain.
After closing in late March because of the coronavirus, the Rosedale Center was one of at least 10 malls statewide to reopen Monday, the first day Gov. Tim Walz's Stay Safe Minnesota order takes effect.
The Rosedale Center says it draws 14 million visitors annually, ranking it as one of the state's busiest malls to open Monday. The Mall of America will reopen June 1.
Every 15 minutes, a message asking visitors to stay at least six feet apart plays through the speakers, Crain said. Customers are encouraged, but not required, to wear masks, and hand sanitizer is available throughout the building.
Most people are wearing masks and carrying their own sanitizer, Crain said.
"We’re seeing a lot of people taking responsibility for their own health," she said. "I think people understand what they have to do."
As part of Stay Safe Minnesota, an executive order allows retail stores, including malls, to open at half capacity. Stores and malls must have a safety plan, which should include signage discouraging gatherings and "enhanced sanitizing, cleaning, and disinfecting regimen consistent with Minnesota OSHA Standards and MDH and CDC Guidelines" for common areas.
In his announcement, Gov. Tim Walz called the state's recent "D" grade for social distancing by Unacast "unacceptable." He encouraged people to stay close to home and wear masks if they must go out.
"We first asked you to stay home ... now we're asking you to stay safe," he said.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has estimated the move brings 37,000 workers back to stores.
Another executive order provides protection for workers who take extra safety precautions, raise safety concerns or refuse to work if dangerous to do so.
Rosedale Center's gradual opening began with 22 out of its 200 stores Monday.
While each store is responsible for coming up with its own safety plan, the mall's safety plan includes using separate doors for entering and exiting the mall, allowing one person in elevator at a time and closing off communal seating areas, Crain said.
The mall has also shortened its hours to allow more time for cleaning, she said.
"A lot of people come in and do their shopping, and then they leave," she said.