People in Toronto complain of low supply and massive lineups to get free rapid tests
After some very vocal backlash to, as well as confusion surrounding the lack of access to free rapid COVID-19 testing in Ontario, the government has finally stepped up to distribute around two million take-home antigen assessment kits to the general public through various channels, including at a handful of pop-ups around the Toronto area and select LCBO storefronts.
Unfortunately, those who arrived bright, early and eager to nab a kit at one of these locations found themselves facing massive lineups to do so — something that could have easily been anticipated given Omicron fears and rising case counts.
This is the RATs race: I was first in the queue to get 5 rapid antigen tests. This is the line that formed behind me.— 𝚂𝚎á𝚗 𝙾’𝚂𝚑𝚎𝚊 Global News (@ConsumerSOS) December 16, 2021
Since I shot the video the line is much longer. One hundred plus and growing.
This is reminiscent of those iPhone launch lines from years past.#Toronto pic.twitter.com/1IJ3ufHnCJ
Residents waiting for the take-home tests at locations such as the Richmond-Adelaide Centre, Yorkdale Mall and Canada Square have cited lineups of hundreds from fairly early in the morning amid what is aptly being called the Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) race.
In case you’re all wondering what it looks like to try and get a rapid test this morning at Yorkdale Mall pic.twitter.com/OCDGQOWdqC— Jennifer Yang (@jyangstar) December 16, 2021
Most of the nine booths around the GTA today were due to offer tests from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (or within normal opening hours for those in shopping centres), and had long lineups from the get-go, though by all accounts, the queues seemed to move more quickly than expected given how bad they looked.
Nothing like waking up early for a Rapid Test scavenger hunt. This one in downtown #Toronto opened at 8 and the line was well-formed before that. #Omicron pic.twitter.com/d379Da6Q2a— Amanda Ferguson (@ByAmandaFergie) December 16, 2021
One person on Twitter claimed that, despite what was by all appearances a very crowded lineup for the giveaway Water Park Place at 10 Bay Street, they were in and out with their take-home test within 15 minutes.
Another who arrived to a "snaking line with huge demand" at Canada Square also cited a 15 minute wait total.
#freetherats— Jennifer Baer (@drjenniferbaer) December 16, 2021
Took maybe 15 mins to get a free rapid test at Canada square!
And yet another who got to the Richmond-Adelaide Centre pop-up right when it began at 8 a.m. was out within half an hour.
Lots of people waiting in line for free rapid tests at Yorkdale Shopping Centre. I’m told 1000 kits on hand pic.twitter.com/goAjuRck4N— Courtney Heels (@CourtHeelsCP24) December 16, 2021
Despite the fact that each location is due to be stocked up for multiple days of the handout blitz, the Mississauga Plaza at 3100 Dixie Road ran out of stock on Thursday by 10:40 a.m., just over 1.5 hours after opening at 9 a.m.
Update! The following locations are sold out:— COVID Test Finders (@C19TestFinders) December 16, 2021
Toronto: Innovation Center
Hamilton: Dundurn Castle#FreeTheRATs beyond one hour of supply
The Richmond-Adelaide Centre, right in downtown Toronto at 120 Adelaide, as well as the Innovation Centre at 325 Front Street and Dundurn Castle in Hamilton also quickly ran out.
Some on site at certain spots were told there were only 1,000 kits available per day.
Silly me went to the Richmond-Adelaide Centre at 10am. https://t.co/NBs02Gqfm4— Miriam Kramer (@miriambkramer) December 16, 2021
Each box contains five rapid tests to administer to oneself or a family member, which take a few minutes to perform and 15 minutes until results are ready.
The kits are also rolling out at the 100 busiest LCBO stores in the province this week, with more to be added in the coming days.
Pop-ups will continue at certain sites in Toronto, Mississauga, Kingston, Peterborough, Richmond Hill and Newmarket over the next two days, where quantities will no doubt be limited amid vigorous demand.
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