malls closed toronto

Shopping is once again banned at malls and small retail stores in Toronto

It's going to be an even tougher year than expected for non-essential retail stores in Toronto and Peel as the provincial government moves both regions into lockdown mode for at least 28 days — days leading up to Christmas, no less.

As of Monday, November 23 at 12:01 a.m., retail stores in each region must revert back to "curbside pick-up or delivery only" in a bid to stop the increasingly rapid spread of COVID-19.

Customers will no longer be permitted to shop indoors at businesses considered non-essential: Places like clothing stores, gift shops, jewellery boutiques, sporting good outlets, furniture stores and the like.

Exceptions are being made, however, for supermarkets, grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, convenience stores, discount and "big box retailers selling groceries, beer, wine and liquor stores, safety supply stores," all of which will still be allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity.

With the rules set to kick in this Monday, the earliest possible date stores could reopen is December 18, giving non-essential stores just one week to earn what they normally would from foot traffic over the entire holiday rush.

The silver lining here is that stores can still stay open for delivery and curbside pickup — services which may become more popular than ever this season as communities rally together in support of local businesses.

"If you're shopping online, I know it can be easy just to go with Amazon, but please remember that you can buy the exact same product from a local store," said Premier Doug Ford when announcing the new restrictions on Friday.

"Please buy from local stores, please do your holiday shopping through curbside pick-up or online stores."

When asked about why big box stores could stay open while main street was effectively cut off at the knees, Ford mentioned the importance of supply chains, citing conversations he'd recently had with CEOs of huge chains like Walmart and Loblaws.

"To be clear, in our lockdown, retail stores are not totally closed," said Dr. David Williams in response to the same query. "They are open for curbside and delivery."

Ford reiterated that the decision to close non-essential retail stores to the public was a difficult one, but called it necessary to "protect our hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes, and every person in this province."

"We cannot afford a province-wide lockdown, so we are taking preventative action today by moving Toronto and Peel into Lockdown level restrictions and other regions into higher levels of restrictions," he said on Friday afternoon. "We need to take decisive action to stop the spread of this deadly virus."

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim

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