vaughan mills

York Region malls see massive lines as crowds flock there ahead of lockdown

York Region residents who have reaped the liberties of a slightly less stringent version of pandemic lockdown than Toronto and Peel for the past few weeks were jolted into COVID reality on Friday,  when it was announced that they too would be subject to grey-level restrictions as of early Monday morning.

Retailers outside of the downtown core were already busy from an influx of region-hopping shoppers, particularly stores located in malls like Vaughan Mills, Markville and Upper Canada.

And, it seems that as predicted, the latest announcement for York prompted residents to frantically get their shop on over the weekend while they still had the chance.

Would-be shoppers and passersby cited packed parking lots and massive lineups to get into Vaughan Mills, which is only about 30 minutes' drive from Toronto.

Pictures and videos show a scene similar to the mall back when it first opened up after the first lockdown in the summer, and more recently on Black Friday, when throngs of people risked infection to get out of the house and hit up their favourite non-essential shops.

The outlet, along with a number of standalone storefronts, extended its hours for the occasion, expecting increased traffic as people sought their last taste of mallgoing freedom for at least 28 days.

Even Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce was spotted doing some PR at the centre just after the news of the impending measures broke.

Markville Mall in nearby Markham was likewise teeming, according to accounts on social media, with people waiting in lengthy lineups to in Saturday's rain to enter the premises.

The trend stretched up further northward in the GTA, too, to Richmond Hill's Hillcrest Mall, which was similarly bustling and hectic for the duration of the weekend.

York Region and Windsor-Essex will remain in the most severe form of lockdown in the province for at least 28 days, until 12:01 a.m. on January 11.

Toronto and Peel, meanwhile, will be assessed for potential opening after their 28 days in the grey zone are up a week from today.

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