hudson bay

Hudson's Bay is going to court over Toronto lockdown measures they say are unfair

Hudson's Bay, Canada's oldest and most iconic brand, is fighting back against rigid lockdown closures in Toronto and Peel in the form of legal action, it announced early Thursday afternoon.

HBC is asking the provincial courts to formally review the current measures that prohibit in-person shopping at stores and malls, among other major restrictions.

"The Ontario Government's health data shows the retail shoppers are not contributing to COVID-19 spread in any significant way," the company wrote in a statement speaking on the economic impacts of forced shutdowns today.

"On behalf of thousands of large and small retailers in Toronto and Peel, we have been left with no choice but to ask the Court to recognize the unfairness of the current situation... the decision to close some retailers in these regions has not achieved public health objectives. Rather, it has potentially increased health risks by funneling more shoppers into fewer, crowded stores."

The call comes just days after The Bay and dozens of other retail chains put forth an open letter asking Premier Doug Ford to reconsider the latest grey-level lockdown, which admittedly has not yet led to a reduction in new cases.

Officials announced a new record high of 1,983 cases of the communicable disease provincewide, though testing remains extremely high — 61,809 tests were completed in the last day, the most in a 24 hour period thus far — and thus per cent positivity among those tested remains pretty steady, hovering around 5 per cent for more than a month now.

So, it is reasonable for one to conclude that shutting the two hotspot regions down hasn't done much as far as mitigating the spread of the virus, though it has harmed the livelihoods of many independent business owners and their employees.

Businesses that offer personal care services such as hair salons have likewise been arguing that they have contributed very minimally to COVID transmission, with countless Toronto stylists taking to social media to share their workplace case stats, many of which show no cases whatsoever since they were permitted to reopen after the first round of lockdown.

There has been talk lately of Toronto's 28-day timeout in the grey zone being extended, though at present, it is set to be reassessed and potentially ended in the wee hours of Monday, Dec. 21, in the midst of the holidays.

Ford and his team have been criticized for permitting big box retailers like Walmart and Cotsco to remain open and selling non-essential items while smaller struggling companies are forced to shutter — a move he admitted was unfair, but stands by on the advice of his health panel.

HBC, meanwhile, faced massive backlash of its own after it decided to open the doors of its landmark Queen Street location in downtown Toronto the first day of the new lockdown on the basis that it carries essential goods.

The reaction to this latest news has been strong and mixed, with some swearing off the department store giant and others avidly supporting its stance, though it is certainly the smaller players, and not enormous operations like The Bay, that are suffering the most right now.

Residents will have to wait and see if the saga ends up being as drawn-out and dramatic as Adamson BBQ's similar demonstration.

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