Malls across New York first need to make some major changes before being allowed to reopen.

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On Wednesday during a COVID-19 briefing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced beginning Friday, July 10, malls can open in regions that have entered Phase 4 of reopening. All regions in New York State besides New York City are in Phase 4 of the four-step reopening process.

In order to reopen, malls across the state must first implement an enhanced Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning - or HVAC - filtration system and follow proper ventilation protocols, officials say.

"Beginning Friday, July 10, malls can open in Phase 4 regions as long as they have enhanced HVAC filtration systems & measures in place," Cuomo tweeted during his press briefing. "The more we learn about COVID, the clearer it is that safe ventilation is crucial."

Malls will need air filters rated MERV-13, which Cuomo says can filter out tiny particles, including the COVID-19 virus, or the highest rating compatible with the system with a minimum MERV of 11.

According to the governor's office, HVAC systems will be required to include filters with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value - or MERV - rating of which filters out the COVID-19 virus, but can, if the system makes additional protections, run on a minimum MERV of 11. Ventilation protocols include increased outdoor air, reduced air circulation, longer system run times and frequent filter checks.

“The best filter that we would like to see installed is called the MERV-13. MERV-13 filters out the COVID-19 virus. Some systems can't take MERV-13, so it is either 13, 12, or 11,” Cuomo said during his press conference.

After Cuomo's announcement, the CEO of the Pyramid Management Group Stephen J. Congel announced Pyramid Management Group malls in the Hudson Valley plan to reopen on Friday. Pyramid Management Group operates the Poughkeepsie Galleria, Galleria at Crystal Run in Middletown and Palisades Mall in Rockland County.

It remains unclear if this new rule will be extended to places like gyms or movie theaters, which are also closed due to concerns over air conditioners spreading coronavirus.

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