peel region

Peel health official calls for limits on non-essential online shopping

Peel Region's Medical Officer of Health has just made an interesting and perhaps controversial suggestion for the government to crack down on online shopping while residents enter their tenth week of strict lockdown.

Dr. Lawrence Loh last week issued a call for restrictions on the purchase of non-essential items online in a time when the only way residents can buy such items is virtually, whether through a giant like Amazon or from their favourite local retailer for pickup or delivery.

There has been a lot of talk across the country about the sale of non-essentials lately, with some arguing that big box retailers such as Walmart and Costco should only be permitted to sell necessary products like food and toiletries to not only cut down on the number of people in-store, but to push customers to buy from smaller businesses.

In Manitoba, stores that remained open were forced to physically block off non-essential items or remove them from their shelves, which resulted in some confusion about what was and wasn't "essential" for everyday life.

But the impetus behind Loh's latest proposal is not the same as the reasons for those types of measures.

Instead, Loh is concerned about the recent COVID-19 outbreak at a busy Canada Post facility in Mississauga, after which hundreds of workers were sent home to isolate and one died.

Loh told Mississauga News on Thursday that curbing the purchase of non-essential goods "would decrease the size of the workforce required to fulfil orders and limit the amount of in-person contact."

Loh has also asked the province to re-evaluate its list of essential businesses "a little more carefully," make it more specific, and consider implementing staffing caps. "For example, 'supporting the supply chain,' could be interpreted in many different ways," he told the local news outlet.

Experts have said that a huge factor in COVID transmission in Ontario has been essential workers, not just those who "aren't following the rules."

There have been numerous outbreaks at meat packing plants and other factories, at postal facilities, among migrant workers, in the grocery and food service industry, on construction sites and more.

And, one recent survey showed that many people in Peel Region in particular continue to work despite having symptoms of the virus out of perceived necessity.

Peel reported Ontario's first known case of the South African COVID variant on Monday, which is not thought to have any link to travel. 

The region has had the highest cumulative case rate per 100,000 residents in the province, at 3,413 as of Feb. 1. In comparison, Toronto has seen a rate of 2,718 infections per 100,000 people since the onset of the health crisis.

Lead photo by

Claudio Schwarz


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