Five Walmarts among dozens of stores fined for breaking Ontario lockdown rules
With great privilege comes great scrutiny in at least some part of the GTA, where big box stores have been allowed to remain open amid a state of emergency and despite government stay-at-home lockdown orders.
Five Walmart stores, five Shoppers Drug Marts and a Costco are among the "essential" businesses that have been charged under the Reopening Ontario Act in York Region since Jan. 11, the municipality announced yesterday.
"At the direction of York Regional Council, the York Region COVID-19 enforcement task force continues to inspect businesses across the Region to ensure compliance with current public health restrictions and measures," reads a release linking to a full list of all enforcement charges and closures.
"Between Monday, January 11, 2021 and Sunday, January 17, 2021, members of the task force visited 1,928 businesses across York Region," the release continues.
"Inspections carried out indicate most businesses and customers in York Region are adhering to COVID-19 safety measures and protocols. However, there were 45 charges laid against residents and businesses and 653 compliance education activities completed."
Charges were laid against the manager of Costco at 35 John Birchall Rd. in Richmond Hill "pertaining to physical distancing at check-out lanes," while five Shoppers Drug Mart Stores — all of them in Markham — received $880 fines for failing to sanitize self-checkout stations after use.
In terms of the Walmart stores, charges varied: One at 3600 Major Mackenzie Drive W. in Vaughan was dinged $880 for overcrowding and a lack of physical distancing.
Another Walmart in Vaughan (8300 Hwy 27) was charged simply for failing to "operate the business or organization in compliance with the advice, recommendations and instructions of public health officials"
Two more Walmarts in the City of Richmond Hill (225 Silver Linden Drive and 1070 Major Mackenzie Drive East) were fined by York Region Public Health for "lack of cleaning and disinfecting" and "improper mask use by employees," respectively.
The final big box giant at 500 Copper Creek Drive in Markham received an $800 fine for failing to properly clean and disinfect the store.
A number of major supermarkets were also charged with various offences under the Reopening Ontario Act, including four No Frills stores, two Food Basics stores, a Freshco, a Sobey's and the T&T in Richmond Hill.
T&T Supermarket at 9625 Yonge Street was fined by York Region Public Health for overcrowding and having "no proper capacity control measures" in place.
A salon called Colors Hair & Skin Studio in Richmond Hill was also fined after bylaw enforcement inspectors determined that haircuts were being performed inside, and a pool hall in Markham called Le Cue was fined for having 10 customers on site and for staff not wearing masks.
It's important to note that these charges were laid independent of the "big box blitz" carried out over this past weekend by Ontario's Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.
"Officers from the COVID-19 task force will continue to visit essential businesses and various other locations to ensure public health measures under the emergency declaration are being met," noted York Region in its release on Tuesday.
"Businesses failing to keep their customers and employees safe by not adhering to the mandated COVID-19 safety measures will be subject to fines. Repeat offenders could face temporary closure."
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