Hamilton’s Lime Ridge Mall says it will be extending hours in anticipation of visitors coming from lockdown zones to finish up their Christmas shopping.
In a note to retailers on Monday morning, the shopping centre said the change would be in effect between Dec. 14 and the new year.
“With the recent lockdown of Peel, Toronto, and now York Region, we are extending our mall operating hours to help spread out traffic and allow more time for visitors to shop safely,” General Manager Liem Vu said in the statement.
Prior to Dec. 14, mall hours amid the COVID-19 pandemic ran from 10:a.m. to 7:p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturday 10:a.m. to 6:p.m. and Sundays from 11:a.m to 6:p.m.
Mandatory screenings will continue at the facility beginning at 9 a.m. every day, according to Vu.
Guest services are asking shoppers to e-mail ahead of time since stores may not be operating or may have differing hours from the mall.
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The news caught the attention of Mountain Coun. John-Paul Danko, who said “going to a shopping mall in person is not essential,” in a Tweet on Tuesday morning.
Later, Danko said he took a different view of the note after re-reading it suggesting it wasn’t really encouragng out-of-towners to shop in the city.
“It’s evident that the mall is not actually endorsing or recruiting people to come in from lockdown areas,” Danko told Global News.
“It’s more so that they are reacting to the reality that that is what is happening.”
A spokesperson from Cadillac Fairview says the shopping centre will follow the city’s “limited occupancy levels for indoor spaces” and plans to have additional staff and security to manage capacity requirements.
“Cadillac Fairview is working with its retail clients to ensure compliance and is encouraging consumers to shop during non-peak hours throughout the week to help spread out traffic in the centre,” Carly Eidelman told Global News.
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Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease expert with McMaster University, called the prospect of mixing people from different regions at one establishment “worrisome.”
“Extending the hours is kind of the wrong messaging here,” Chagla told Global News
“It should be the opposite. I mean it should be essential hours more than the extension of hours.”
Palliative care specialist Dr. Amit Arya says the biggest risk factor contributing to the city’s recent outbreaks is community spread.
“Maybe this is the year to do a Zoom Christmas, or order online gift baskets and leave them at the door,” Arya said
Mayor Fred Eisenberger said the ordeal with the leaked memo has given exposure to the mall’s extended hours and probably will not be “particularly helpful” in keeping people away.
“The province all knows that Lime Ridge Mall has got extended hours and, you know, they could probably come and visit,” said Eisenberger.
“My message to them is to stay home.”
Hamilton Public Health reported 150 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and recorded five more virus-related deaths.
Three of the deaths are connected with the outbreak at the Grace Villa long-term care home (LTCH), which has the city’s largest current outbreak as of Dec. 14.
The city reported 834 new cases in the last 10 days with four per cent of all tests coming back positive in the last seven days.
The number of active cases in Hamilton is 799 as of Dec. 14.