we are all essential

Toronto ready to crack down on businesses that reopen in defiance of lockdown this week

All those business owners planning to participate in the We Are All Essential Protest this week by reopening their doors in defiance of lockdown orders should be prepared to meet with strict enforcement from the city, according to Fire Chief Matthew Pegg. 

Founder of the group of small business owners and the notorious anti-lockdown group Hugs Over Masks Vladislav Sobolev told blogTO last week that at least 250 owners across Canada plan to reopen on Feb. 11, many of whom are in Ontario, but Pegg said the city is aware and prepared to respond as necessary.

"We are aware of a small number of businesses that have indicated their intent to open this Thursday in contravention of the provincial orders requiring them to remain closed," said Pegg during the city's COVID-19 press briefing Monday afternoon. 

"The city's integrated enforcement team, including Municipal Licensing and Standards, Toronto Public Health and Toronto police officers, are actively monitoring this situation and are prepared to respond as required."

But Sobolev has been encouraging members of the network to ignore fines and treat them "like a parking ticket," raising the question of whether owners will actually be deterred by tickets from enforcement officers or whether they'll continue to reopen regardless — just as Adamson Barbecue owner Adam Skelly did when he reopened multiple times in November.

Still, the city won't be giving owners any free passes this week. 

"We will take appropriate enforcement action against any business that operates in contravention of the regulations governing the operation of non-essential businesses as we have done throughout the pandemic," said Pegg.

"We know that the vast majority of businesses and residents continue to do the right thing in support of our collective public health. By complying with the public health regulations, we save lives, and protect the capacity of our healthcare system."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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