Ontario to expand big box retail blitz amid widespread rule violations: McNaughton
The ministry issued a document late last week saying inspections would also involve workplaces which reported COVID-19 outbreaks and businesses focused on manufacturing, warehousing, distribution centres and food processing.
An enforcement blitz that uncovered numerous violations of COVID-19 prevention protocols across big-box retailers in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas will broaden its scope to include the rest of the province in the weeks ahead, the province’s labour minister said on Jan. 17.
Monte McNaughton said the initial wave of inspectors combing retailers for those eschewing masks and ignoring physical distancing guidelines found only 70 per cent of sites they visited were adhering to the public health measures intended to curb the spread of the virus. He called the results disappointing, pledging to expand the enforcement efforts to other parts of the province as well as additional industries at risk from COVID-19 outbreaks.
“We’ll be expanding that in the days and weeks to come across the whole province,” McNaughton said in a telephone interview. “We’re going to continue targeting bad actors and we’ll continue issuing fines and close them down if we have to.”
The initial blitz involved 50 inspectors fanning out across Toronto, Hamilton and surrounding municipalities to observe the scene at multiple big-box retailers, which are among the businesses allowed to keep their doors open under Ontario’s current stay-at-home order.
McNaughton said big-box stores would remain a key target during the provincewide expansion. The ministry issued a document late last week saying inspections would also involve workplaces which reported COVID-19 outbreaks and businesses focused on manufacturing, warehousing, distribution centres and food processing.
Word of the expansion comes amid growing pressure to quell soaring COVID-19 case counts across Ontario, which showed little sign of abating over the weekend.
The province reported 3,422 new cases of COVID-19 and another 69 deaths on Sunday, up more than 10 per cent from levels recorded the day before.
The bulk of the most recent diagnoses remain in Toronto and nearby Peel Region, where 1,035 and 585 new infections were identified in the past 24 hours.