eb games animal crossing

Hundreds line up in Toronto to buy video games during a pandemic

"Coronavirus, schmaronavirus!" say gamers who are willing to risk their lives and the lives of others for Animal Crossing: New Horizons and / or Doom Eternal.

Not in those words, exactly, but their actions — which, at present, include lining up en masse outside an EB Games in downtown Toronto — say they're not afraid of the virus that has sparked a global pandemic outbreak.

Hundreds of people are currently gathered in front of the popular EB Games store at 267 Yonge Street, by some accounts, just waiting to get their hands on one or both of two highly-anticipated new console games.

This, despite local and international public health experts calling for social distancing to stop the rapid spread of COVID-19.

This, despite the province of Ontario being under a state of emergency as cases of of the 2019 novel coronavirus rise exponentially (we're at 308 confirmed cases as of Friday morning.)

This, less than 24 hours after Toronto's Chief Medical Officer recommended the closure of all non-essential businesses, including clothing stores, hair salons and, though she didn't say it specifically, one would presume video game retailers.

"If we want to be successful in protecting ourselves, our families and our community against this virus, we have to take social distancing even more seriously," said Dr. Eileen de Villa said in a press conference on Thursday afternoon

"And this includes non-essential businesses like hair and nail salons, and clothing stores. I am encouraging non-essential businesses that remain open to get behind social distancing. I'm encouraging these businesses to do the right thing."

EB Games either didn't hear the top doc's plea, or heard and ignored her.

Photos and videos from the scene are sparking outrage among the many, many Torontonians who've chosen to "do the right thing" and self-isolate as requested by government officials.

"And you thought it was just dumb young spring breakers that were stupid," commented one Twitter user of the footage. "Stupidity knows no bounds."

"This woman just said she took Toronto transit from her grandparent's house to stand in line with a bunch of other people for a video game," wrote another person, sharing a screenshot of an interview with someone in line from CP24. "Please retweet to show the world what's wrong with it."

The lineup outside EB Games in downtown Toronto has attracted so much attention, in fact, that Premier Doug Ford addressed it during an unrelated press conference on Friday afternoon.

"Guys, the young people, please please do not get in line. Practice social distancing," he said when asked by a reporter about the situation. "It's unacceptable."

"This is exactly what causes the spread... when people gather and are in close proximity to each other," continued the premier.

"I'm frustrated, to be frank, with the store owner that would allow this to happen. They have a responsibility."

EB Games, for its part, has decided not to close, but to increase disinfection procedures and only allow 10 customers at a time into any store.

When asked, Ford said his administration would be looking into the matter and considering fines.

"I'm very very disappointed with a store owner who would do this," he reiterated. "You're putting everyone else into danger — please do not create these environments out there."

Animal Crossing, for the record, is a social simulation game for Nintendo in which the human player lives with a bunch of anthropomorphic animals in a farming village and performs such tasks as gathering food, paying back loans and throwing parties.

Doom is a first-person shooter.

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim

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