toronto grey zone

Retail stores can officially reopen for in-person shopping in Toronto next week

The Ontario government has officially announced that Toronto will be moving out of the shutdown and into the grey zone of the colour-coded response framework next week, and that means retail stores throughout the city will be able to reopen for in-person shopping

The provincial government made the much-anticipated announcement Friday following Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa's recommendation that Toronto be moved into grey on Monday, March 8.

Moving to the grey zone means Toronto will still be subject to the strictest COVID-19 restrictions in the province as it's the "lockdown" stage of the framework, but an update made by the province in February means all retail outlets will be allowed to reopen. 

Of course, strict capacity limits will apply.

Supermarkets and other stores that primarily sell groceries, convenience stores and pharmacies will have to limit in-store capacity to 50 per cent of normal, a restriction which is currently already in place.

All other retail outlets — including big box stores, liquor stores, hardware stores, garden centres, clothing stores and more  — will have to face capacity limits of 25 per cent.

Curbside pick-up and delivery will also continue to be permitted, and stores wil be required to post the capacity limit publicly.

These rules also apply to shopping malls, though they're subject to the additional requirement of actively screening customers before they enter the building.

"Our government is taking a safe and cautious approach to returning to the Framework and due to our progress, all regions of the province will soon be out of the provincewide shutdown," said Health Minister Christine Elliott in a statement.

"Despite this positive step forward, a return to the Framework is not a return to normal. As we continue vaccinating more Ontarians, it remains critical for everyone to continue to follow public health measures and stay home as much as possible to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities."

Toronto was last placed in the grey zone of the province's framework on Nov. 23, more than a month before a provincewide shutdown was ordered amid spiking rates of COVID-19, though in-person retail shopping was not permitted in grey at that time.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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