lcbo extended hours

LCBO faces backlash for increasing opening hours

On Wednesday, it was announced that the LCBO will be expanding its opening hours after restricting them in mid-March due to the pandemic.

Starting May 14, more than 360 of the alcohol retailers across Ontario will switch their hours to 10 a.m-9 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sundays, a notable difference from the current hours of 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays.

Locations will remain closed on Mondays.

As many — including the Crown corporation itself — have pointed out, increasing store hours will hopefully mean shorter lineups, less in-store congestion and better social distancing while shopping, along with the obvious convenience factor for customers.

But, the announcement has some citizens up in arms given the fact that the province's state of emergency was just extended.

People are concerned that Ontario still isn't in a good enough position with respect to COVID-19 to start opening things up again, with case counts still not lowering day-over-day and dozens of deaths still being reported each morning.

Some are also worried about residents' drinking habits, especially during quarantine.

And others think the move shows that the provincial government does not have its priorities straight, given that public hubs like libraries are still closed, and essential (though private) businesses like grocery stores are still running on limited hours.

The union representing LCBO employees is also very troubled by the risk to workers' health and safety, citing potential issues that may come with expanded hours, like problems with adequate staffing, personal protective equipment and crowd control. As a result, it is demanding a pay raise for staff.

But, the provincial booze purveyor equipped its workers with personal protective equipment and installed plexiglass partitions at cash registers early on, and also limited the number of shoppers allowed in the store at one time, stopped taking returns and asked customers to use contactless methods of payment — measures that will continue with the longer hours, which will be no more than they were pre-coronavirus.

Many are, for these reasons, in support of the decision.

Select LCBO locations will gradually be transitioning their hours back to normal between now and the first week of June.

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