toronto stores open

Massive lineups for stores in Toronto spark worries about a third wave

It's been just over 24 hours since non-essential retail stores opened in Toronto after 15 weeks of forced closures, and things are going... well, pretty much exactly as you'd expect them to.

Huge lineups have been forming outside The Eaton Centre, Sherway Gardens, Square One, Yorkdale and other major shopping malls in Toronto and Peel since early Monday morning, when stay-at-home orders were lifted and both regions entered the grey zone of Ontario's COVID-19 response framework.

Literally nobody with any knowledge of the city and its inhabitants can be surprised.

People clearly miss shopping and are eager to return to some sense of normalcy, even if it means queuing for hours to enter stores that have been capped at 25 per cent occupancy

Even if it means waiting in line for hours outside the Dufferin Mall on a sunny Monday morning.

Even if it means eschewing the advice of Toronto Public Health to stay home whenever possible as dangerous new variants of the coronavirus spread locally.

But let's be real: Toronto residents have long been known to line up for stuff in great numbers, and for long periods of time.

Some may argue that people in Canada's largest city deserve to hit up their favourite Winners location after so many months of lockdown living, or that non-essential retail stores need their business.

They may be right, but if there's anything Toronto loves to do more than wait in line it's complain about each other on Twitter.

"Be careful, we don’t want a 3rd wave, they say. First day out of lockdown in Toronto and people lined up around the block to get into Eaton Centre?! Seriously people? Do better!" wrote one naysayer Monday afternoon.

"Went to the courier finally to have some packages go their merry way - FINALLY. Passed Cdn Tire, a Winners, dept store and all had lineups outside waiting to get in," wrote another. "We are so in trouble."

Standalone and department stores such as Winners, Marshalls, HomeSense, Canadian Tire, Foot Locker and Nordstrom Rack have all proven particularly popular as places to visit as soon as Toronto entered the grey zone.

"You would think they are giving out vaccines at Winners, with the lineups," joked one person.

Yorkdale Mall was also reportedly quite the consumer zoo.

It's important to note that what these shoppers are doing is perfectly legal and, in some cases, good for the local economy.

Concerns about a potential third wave of the pandemic are not unfounded, however: experts have been sounding the alarm for weeks now that another major outbreak of COVID-19 could well be on the way. What's not been suggested is that shopping will be the reason for this resurgence.

Lines, crowds or deafening silence, someone in the city will no doubt be upset regardless of how many people hit up newly-reopened stores this week. Let's just hope it's not Ontario's Medical Officer of Health (read: the guy who will determine whether or not we stay in grey-lockdown or move to a less-restrictive zone of the framework in two weeks.)

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