toronto reopening

Toronto retail stores have mixed feelings about Ontario's reopening plan

Retail stores will be soon be allowed to reopen for in-person shopping with new capacity limits as part of Ontario's phased reopening plan, Premier Doug Ford announced on Monday.

Under the government's updated COVID-19 framework, modified to "allow for a safer approach to retail," all regions in the strictest Grey-Lockdown zones will be allowed to offer in-person shopping at retail stores with a capacity limit of 25 per cent.

While a number of regions across the province will transition out of shutdown and back into the province's colour-coded framework as soon as Wednesday, Feb. 10, Toronto, Peel and York regions are scheduled to re-enter the framework on Feb. 22.

This is, however, dependent on a review of the trends in public health indicators at that time.

But Toronto retailers aren't sure if they should be getting excited.

"I have mixed feelings about opening. I'm kinda happy and kinda scared," said Trinh Ngo, owner of card and gift store Juxtapose.

Meanwhile, Ryan Rubin, owner of longboard shop Longboard Living, said: "We are open to seeing stores open with limited customers or groups at a time."

The owners of bridal shop LoversLand said the new rules were "better than nothing."

But some Toronto retailers blogTO spoke to weren't really sure why non-essential retail shops are being given different rules than supermarkets and essential retail shops, which are allowed to operate at a 50 per cent capacity. 

"What's the difference for someone to buy meat at the butcher or skateboards at the skate shop?" questioned Rubin. 

The seemingly arbitrary rules are starting to frustrate small businesses. 

"If the numbers do go back up I think they need to think of a different way to do this instead of using small business as a scapegoat," said LoversLand's Yvonne Reidy.

"There's no evidence that small businesses are the cause of the spread. We shouldn't [be] penalised." 

All of the previous retail rules enforced before the most-recent shutdown, including mandatory masking and physical distancing, will also still apply to Toronto retail stores when they're allowed to reopen. 

Additionally, stores will also be required to publicly post their capacity limits.

Either way, most Toronto stores are preparing to reopen, as the past few months have been challenging with the ongoing stay-at-home orders

Toronto stores are also keeping their fingers crossed that Feb. 22 is the actual reopening day for the Toronto, York and Peel region, and there aren't any more lockdowns. 

"We can't afford to go in another lockdown," said Ngo. "If we have to shut down again that's going to hurt us big time. We're already hurting."

Lead photo by

Anthony G. Reyes

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