מתחם ביג בירכא
An empty BIG shopping center in Yarka during coronavirus lockdown
Photo: Elad Gershgorn
BIG logo

Shopping mall chain to reopen on Monday in defiance of virus curbs

BIG CEO says group will resume operations in protest of government's hesitancy to lift restrictions on trade industry; company says it did not charge store owners any rent or management fees, did not furlough staff during lockdown

Merav Crystal |
Published: 11.01.20 , 13:30
One of Israel's biggest shopping mall chains said it will reopen its open-air shopping centers starting Monday in defiance of coronavirus restrictions.
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  • BIG Shopping Centers Group CEO Hay Galis sent out a letter to store owners, claiming the group will collect rent and management fees in full, in order to get them to reopen the stores, as the government continues to delay the reopening of street shops.
    מתחם ביגמתחם ביג
    BIG logo
    (Photo: Anat Gross)
    Many businesses say they will reopen in order to avoid bankruptcy, risking fines of thousands of shekels for violating coronavirus directives.
    "Starting November 2, we will allow reopening stores in Big Centers in the open air only, in green cities and we will require to pay rent and management fees in full!" Galis wrote. "The ability to open your business is in your hands, and the outcome rests on your shoulders."
    The group said the first branches to reopen will be the ones located in Ashdod and Nazareth.
    BIG shopping center in Ashdod BIG shopping center in Ashdod
    BIG shopping center in Ashdod
    (Photo: Barel Efraim )
    "Over the past two weeks, we have tried, without much success, to harness you to a courageous demonstration against the government's bungled handling of the pandemic and decision-making, repeatedly making every possible lapse of judgment required in managing such a complicated crisis," he said.
    "Our dear government is playing with us, playing with you, asking for a few more days and then a few more days because of the Health Ministry's hysteria and Prime Minister Netanyahu's inability or unwillingness to make a decision."
    מתחם ביג בירכאמתחם ביג בירכא
    An empty BIG shopping center in Yarka during coronavirus lockdown
    (Photo: Elad Gershgorn)
    According to Galis' letter, the decision follows weeks of lockdown, during which the group did not charge store owners any rent or management fees and did not furlough any of the staff, resulting in massive losses for the company.
    Competitors, Azrieli Group and Hazahav Mall in Rishon Lezion, also announced that they would give business owners a 60% discount on rent for the month of September but continued to charge full management fees. "Seven Stars" Mall In Herzliya gave customers a 30% discount on rent for September and October.
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