ontario lockdown

Malls and big box stores in Toronto rammed during first weekend of new lockdown

This past weekend marked the first days of Ontario's new provincewide shutdown, and establishments that were forced to close their doors after mere weeks of reopening or who haven't gotten to open at all in months are likely (and understandably) seething over how packed the businesses that remain open have been.

Photos and videos taken at various major retailers in the past few days are leading many to wonder why a small struggling restaurant can't open its socially distanced outdoor patio, but North York IKEA and Yorkdale Mall can host people crowding in lineups outside and packed shoulder to shoulder indoors.

All "non-essential" retailers, including those in shopping centres, are currently permitted to remain open across the province with 25 per cent capacity limits in place — a marked change from the last provincial shutdown, during which such stores could not operate beyond curbside pickup and delivery.

This time around, there is also no formal stay-at-home order in effect, and residents are being encouraged to get outside and enjoy the weather and the businesses that are still running, so long as they do so safely.

But the footage from the long weekend doesn't exactly scream "safe," with customers still very much crammed together despite the reduced caps, and appearing eager to wait in line and shop in close proximity to strangers, though they can no longer dine on a patio six feet away from another table.

Mall parking lots were shown to be as rammed as ever, with staff from at least one centre telling blogTO that screening procedures at entrances were not being conducted properly, with customers simply "shown a piece of paper with symptoms and waved in" to packed halls.

The scenes looked similar to the numerous other times residents have flocked to malls and similar outlets after the announcement of new, stricter measures in certain regions or provincewide.

Some health officials fear that our repeated "leaky lockdowns" will not yield the desired results of reducing case numbers and ICU admissions, and may only serve to further damage businesses in certain industries that have proven their settings contribute very little to virus spread.

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