Virus alert for shopping centres as SA works to contain cluster

Contact tracers are still working to contain Adelaide’s Parafield cluster with two new COVID-19 cases linked to the outbreak that plunged the state into lockdown.

One case, a man in his 40s, was already self-isolating at the time of testing positive.

The other, a teenage girl from Woodville High School, attended the pizza bar for a “very brief time”, South Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Nicola Spurrier told Today.

“We are still trying to work out how in fact she contracted the disease,” Professor Spurrier said today.

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a group of people walking down the street: People are seen queuing up at the Parafield Gardens COVID testing centre on November 17, 2020 in Adelaide, Australia.

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People are seen queuing up at the Parafield Gardens COVID testing centre on November 17, 2020 in Adelaide, Australia.

“She had certainly had a very brief time at the Woodville Pizza Bar on the 14th of November and that was the time that we know there were infectious cases there.

“So we are urging every South Australian if you did get a pizza from there to get a test done and stay isolated.”

Sections of the school were forced into lockdown after the student tested positive to COVID-19.

Despite the growing cluster, Professor Spurrier said she wanted the state to enjoy a Christmas as normal as possible.

“I as much as everybody else in South Australia, want to have a normal Christmas,” she said.

“There are going to be some restrictions and my team and I are working through those.”

Virus alert issued for shopping centres

A fresh coronavirus alert has been issued for two shopping centres in the state, believed to be linked to the Parafield cluster.

Anyone who visited Armada Arndale Shopping Centre and Port Adelaide Plaza is being asked to monitor for symptoms and get tested immediately if they appear.

There are now 31 cases linked to the Parafield outbreak, with 4800 people deemed close contacts.

The hours of concern at the Armada Arndale Shopping Centre include Sunday November from 11am-11.30am and Sunday November 15 from 11.30am until 12.30pm.

For Port Adelaide Plaza, those who visited the centre on Sunday November 15, between 3pm-3.30pm, and Friday November 13, between 6.40pm and 9.30pm are being warned to watch out for symptoms.

Some outdoor COVID-19 testing clinics will close early today due to extreme heat to hit the state.

Adelaide is expected to reach 40 degrees, forcing authorities to shut down sites where people would be waiting in queues outside. A full list of locations can be found here.

Police are also warning people not to congregate on beaches in large crowds.

Premier Steven Marshall announced that South Australia would be launching QR code mandatory check-ins from December 1.

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Saudi mall operator Arabian Centres to build outdoor shopping centre

Saudi Arabian mall operator Arabian Centres is planning to build an outdoor shopping centre to expand its lifestyle offering.

“Boulevard U Walk” will be the second addition to the company’s portfolio of shopping centres in the Islamic holy city of Medinah (Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah) and it is expected to deliver about 57,000 square metres of additional gross leasable area (GLA), the firm said in a bourse filing on Monday.

The Saudi-listed firm, which operates 21 malls across Saudi Arabia, also confirmed that it has secured a long-term lease for a vacant plot on which the new mall will be built.

Under the rental and investment agreement with the plot owner, Madinah Regional Municipality, Arabian Centres will be paying an annual rent of more than 1 million Saudi riyals ($266,000) to develop and use the land for a period of 25 years.

The firm’s total investment for leasing the land alone will amount to more than 26.6 million riyals by the end of the lease term.

“This project comes in line with the company’s broad strategy, which aims to expand within the lifestyle shopping centres that include various entertainment destinations such as cinemas, luxurious restaurants and cafes, in addition to retail stores,” the firm said.

The company also pointed out that the Madinah Regional Municipality is keen to develop the area around the proposed project site as it is considered one of the most populous regions in the kingdom. However, the mall operator, did not confirm the investments that would go into building the new shopping destination.

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)

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City centres are deserted in lockdown 2.0 but beauty spots are crammed

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London is now a ghost town as city centres have been left deserted across England on the first weekend of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, but beauty spots are crammed in the autumnal weather.

Photographs show boarded-up restaurants adorned with ‘stay alert’ signs lining empty streets in London’s Soho and Newcastle’s Bigg Market after England entered its second lockdown at midnight on Thursday.

It comes in stark contrast to scenes earlier this week, when revellers were out in force before all the pubs and bars were forced to shut for the rest of the month.

But parks have remained bustling, with runners, walkers and cyclists seen at Bridgewater Canal in Manchester this morning, as people can exercise and socialise in public spaces with their household or one other person.

Costco in Watford, Hertfordshire, was also heaving with customers, who were spotted pushing trolleys piled high with toilet rolls, food and water bottles.

The images come amid warnings that the country needed ‘dramatic action’ to reduce Covid-19 transmission, despite the Government’s ‘ghastly’ presentation of data to justify the latest lockdown.

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter said it would not be sustainable for the health service to deal with the levels of coronavirus cases and hospitalisations without tougher measures than those imposed under the three-tier system.

The statistician and chair of the Winton Centre for risk and evidence communication at the University of Cambridge told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: ‘If this is going to go down, it is going to go down very slowly unless some dramatic action is taken, which has been taken.’ 

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How can shopping centres recover from the pandemic?

Halloween at shopping centres across the UK normally means spooky pumpkins, trick or treat trails, and plastic spiders. But this year, there were bigger fears: Intu, Britain’s largest shopping centre owner, has collapsed into administration, leaving the fate of some sites uncertain, while rival Hammerson is struggling to raise cash and dispose of its assets without triggering a fire sale, as valuations in the sector tumble. 

The picture is similar across Europe and the US, where the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the woes of a sector already crippled by the rise of online shopping, steep rents for retailers, and high debt levels. 

Analysts estimate that lockdowns and social distancing rules have accelerated these trends by between three to five years, with the US and the UK a step ahead of European mainland countries. As the crisis turns yesterday’s fears into today’s reality, is there a way back for shopping centres and their landlords?

One idea that is often proposed is the “mixed-use” site, where a large part of a centre’s retail space is redeveloped into flats, offices and “experiential” spaces such as gyms and restaurants. 

But the reality is not so simple for those already saddled with bricks and mortar. “Even if the shopping centre is only half occupied, you’re obviously going to have to buy out the other retailers, and then you’ve got the demolition costs, then the construction costs,” says Stephen Springham, head of retail research at estate agency Knight Frank.

“There is a massive gap between retail values and other uses like accommodation, even though retail is being pulled through the mud at the moment. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen, but it’s not a quick win.”

No easy options

In the UK, he adds, this approach is particularly difficult for regional shopping centres, as values tend to align between residential and retail only within London; elsewhere, conversion to residential use is more likely to entail financial loss. Their likeliest buyers are local councils or housing associations, rather than for-profit organisations.

Last month, for example, Sovereign Housing Association bought a shopping centre and car park in Bristol that it says may have potential for retail and residential use, including affordable homes for those on low incomes.

Breathing easy: shoppers remove their face masks as they leave Birmingham’s Bullring shopping centre. Coronavirus has added to the pressures faced by mall-owners © Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

Mark Bourgeois, managing director of Hammerson in the UK and Ireland, says that alongside mixed-use space, the property company is also considering turning large car parks and basements into distribution centres that will become part of “last mile” delivery for online retailers. 

But some property experts say such schemes are unlikely to solve landlords’ financial woes or to be welcomed by councils looking to reduce traffic congestion. “The value of those shopping centres

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Essential Renovation Strategies for Retail Shopping Centres

Renovating a shopping centre is a frequent and planned event to keep the tenants happy, the customers coming back, and the property looking good. This underpins the rental so that the property can compete with other properties in the local area. Failure to renovate or refurbish puts you on the path to poor property performance and rents; this can happen all too quickly. Tenants and rent are a critical part of property strategy.

Renovation plans should incorporate your major tenants, specialty tenant mix, landlord investment plans, and the community needs. It is a fine balance. Give due regard to the terms of all leases in the property before you start, as some may have clauses that will impact the project planning or staging. Local property legislation relative to retail property could also have allowances and procedures for property renovation and or demolition.

Renovation therefore becomes part of retail property business plan and you must know what you are doing before you start; the lead time can be months if not years. Minor renovation is something that happens in one form or other each 5 years or so in a retail property, and with a larger renovations happening on average every 8 to 10 years.

Property renovation is a strategy that needs careful planning when it comes to shopping centres. The property should not be renovated at the peak shopping times of the year, and the renovation should be kept to a strict time schedule and outcomes. The builder or developer you use for the project is the first critical decision that you will make; they should give evidence of other renovation projects in similar high impact retail properties. They should be able to tell you exactly how they managed critical daily issues at the property such as noise, dust, storage, lighting, foot traffic, and tenant relationships; they should show how they completed other similar complex retail projects on time and within budget.

Make your property renovation a community event and build excitement around it. Make big statements about the renovation before and during the process so that the community knows what is going on and has an air of expectation with the outcome.

Get the community involved in the future of the property by undertaking surveys about needs and concerns. The survey outcomes can be built into the project if they are warranted and will build better community interaction with the final property release.

Informative signage should be placed on all the safety barriers and renovation hoardings around the property clearly telling the community what is going on. The more they know about what you are doing, the more likely they will come back when the works are finished. Shopper tolerance is what you need from the outset.

Always keep the tenants abreast of stages and progress in the renovation. It is their income and business that is affected. They want your renovation to be successful so that their business will be successful. The communication links in a shopping centre …

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