Ontario will conduct inspection blitzes in big box stores to enforce lockdown rules
Along with announcing a spate of additional lockdown measures for the provice of Ontario on Tuesday, including an official stay-at-home order, Premier Doug Ford made a promise to crack down on crowded big box stores to help reduce virus transmission in these settings.
"I've seen the crazy lineups. We need more enforcement in these stores," Ford said in his media briefing this afternoon, revealing that enforcement officers will be commencing an "inspection blitz" of retailers such as Walmart and Costco in the coming days.
Doug Ford: I saw the lines at the big box stores over the last couple weeks. Too many people lined up.— Mike D (@med0475) January 12, 2021
Also Doug Ford: I believe in the people of Ontario to do the right thing
The blitz will ostensibly include monitoring store capacity limits, adherence to physical distancing and masking rules, and the implementation of other health and safety measures.
"If we find any issues, there will be consequences. We'll come down hard if we have to, and this enforcement will continue as long as necessary," he continued, also making his characteristic "800 pound gorilla" reference.
Toronto Mayor John Tory backed the blitzes and other aspects of the stricter variation of lockdown, saying in a statement that "the blitz of big box stores is welcome but if it proves inadequate I hope the government won't hesitate to take further action."
"I am going to come down on them like an 800 pound gorilla" -- Ontario Premier @fordnatio saying what he will do if big box stores aren't adhering to maximum occupancy allowed in the pandemic.#covid19— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) January 12, 2021
Ford and his team added that enforcement of all provincial orders in general will be ramped up from here on out, with provincial and local police, workplace inspectors and bylaw officers granted the power to disperse people and fine those defying gathering limits and other restrictions.
But some are still confused by some of the new measures, wondering how moves such as limiting the hours of retail stores and giving people less time to shop will help to assuage crowds.
Others feel that officials continuing to place emphasis on the few people who continue to gather with those outside their household overlooks other perhaps more concerning grounds for transmission, such as industrial workplaces and schools.
Ontario is limiting "essential" stores like Walmart and Costco to restricted operating hours. So now we have a shorter time to jam into big-box stores for "essentials". How is this supposed to keep infections down?— Mark Dolore (@QueerTestimony) January 12, 2021
The list of tightened measures released by the provincial government Tuesday afternoon thankfully did not include the curfew that was at one point expected, but does further restrict the movement of citizens.
Per the most recent data, Ontario had 2,903 new cases of COVID-19 on Jan. 11, making for a total of 222,023 infections total — 84 per cent of them now resolved — among a population of 14.5 million.
Our mortality rate from the virus sits at 2.3 per cent, for a total of 5,053, 69 per cent of which were in patients 80 older.
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