ontario stores closing

Malls and non-essential retail stores across Ontario are closing once again

It's been exactly a month since "non-essential" retail stores were able to open their doors to the public following Ontario's last blanket shutdown, but Premier Doug Ford has just revealed that they will have to once again cease in-store operations starting at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday.

Rising COVID-19 case counts and a greater prevalence of new variants of concern are behind the new restrictions, which also include an official stay-at-home order for all regions of the province and the cordoning off of aisles carrying non-essential goods in big box stores, which will be able to remain open to 25 capacity.

Essential stores include those that primarily sell groceries, prescription eyewear, safety supplies, automobiles and other vehicles, those that rent and lease cars and other equipment, and those operated by telecommunications providers.

They can now only sell goods for curbside pickup or delivery between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., while access to shopping malls will be limited to specific purposes, such as access to indoor pickup locations for items purchased online or over the phone.

This follows the enactment of the emergency brake on Saturday, which brought us all into another full shutdown, suspending patio season that in some parts of Ontario had lasted only two weeks and snuffing out the plan to open businesses like salons and barbershops in grey zone areas this month.

"The third wave is different from anything we've faced so far. The risks are greater and stakes are higher," Ford said at a press conference breaking the news on Wednesday afternoon, stern-faced.

He and his team reiterated that new measures are to limit mobility and transmission, which is part two of a tw0-part strategy, the first being to focus on vaccinations. He added that the next few weeks are critical.

Thanks to our sluggish vaccine rollout, "leaky" lockdowns that have managed to only briefly curb COVID-19 spread while simultaneously harming local businesses, lack of paid sick leave for many essential workers and other factors, daily new case counts in the province have risen to over 3,000, compared to less than 1,000 in mid-February.

Of particular concern to health officials is the number of virus patients in the ICU, which surpassed 500 yesterday for the first time since the health crisis began.

Lead photo by

Anthony G. Reyes

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