The hustle and bustle that typically occurs on the biggest shopping day of the year is not visible today as many people avoid in-store shopping and stay home to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
And some shoppers simply cannot access their favorite physical stores in person, as Toronto and the Region of Peel are currently under a provincial lockdown for at least 28 days.
The two hotspots entered the gray lockdown level of the province’s new COVID-19 response framework on Monday in a bid to curb the spread of the deadly virus.
Lockdown restrictions include shutting down non-essential businesses, including many small businesses and shopping centers, during the lucrative holiday season.
However, big box stores, like Walmart and Costo, which sell essentials such as groceries and medicine, are allowed to remain open during the lockdown.
Although public health officials are urging residents to stay home as much as possible, shoppers were seen lining up outside Walmart stores in Toronto on Friday morning to get their hands on some of the store’s best Black Friday deals. .
Mayor John Tory urged residents and stores to avoid Black Friday sales in order to avoid crowds and reduce the spread of the virus.
He also encouraged residents to shop online and support small businesses that are hit hard during the pandemic.
“Nothing against big box stores, they are what they are, but I think that’s one way we can help small independent stores by shopping online from them, a lot of them have a presence in line, and curbside pickup, and we’re trying to make that a lot easier, ”Tory told CP24 on Friday morning.
The owner of Early Bird & Worm in the Roncesvalles area of Toronto told CP24 that she offers customers a variety of shopping options so her business can stay afloat during the lockdown.
“It’s the second lockdown and we’re trying to make as many orders as possible to help the community, by placing orders by email, by phone. We do local deliveries after my kids have fallen asleep at night just to try to make ends meet, ”she says.
Roncevaux BIA representative Adam Langley said most small businesses in the area were trying to cope with the restrictions and urged residents to remember to shop there.
“One of our mantras is that you can buy locally, even if it’s online, so a lot of our businesses in the first wave turned to online shopping and those that don’t yet offer services. Langley told CP24.
“I think business owners are ready to fight for the business. They’re inside and they’re waiting to hear from you and they want to get you what you need for the holiday season.
Meanwhile, the Peel Regional Council on Thursday passed a motion calling on the province to immediately seek ways to address the inequity between businesses forced to close and those allowed to remain open during the lockdown.
The motion, however, does not limit the sale of non-essential items in big box stores that Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie previously advocated.
“Although the original wording of the motion has been changed, I am glad the intention remains: to support small businesses,” Crombie said in a statement Thursday. “What is important to me is that we have achieved consensus and presented a united front to defend our small business community.”
Peel Region recorded its highest number of COVID-19 cases in a single day on Thursday with 572 new infections, while Toronto recorded 356 cases.
The province recorded more than 1,800 new cases and 20 more deaths on Friday.
Non-closed GTA areas ask residents to stay in their area
With limited options for in-store purchases on Black Friday in Toronto and Peel, officials in neighboring York Region, which is at red screening level as part of the provincial COVID-19 response, fear that many shoppers don’t rush to the area to try and treat.
In the control category, non-essential businesses, including shopping malls, are allowed to remain open with certain restrictions.
On Friday morning, people were seen queuing outside Vaughan Mills Shopping Center before it opened at 8 a.m.
Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua is asking people to stay home and avoid shopping unless they need to pick up essentials.
“We must continue to focus on defeating COVID-19 and its transmission. When people get up in the morning, the question they need to ask themselves is what can I do to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, ”Bevilacqua told CP24.
Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti echoes Bevilacqua’s remarks and asks people not to travel outside of their area to access in-store purchases elsewhere.
He also warned that law enforcement officers would patrol the city this weekend to make sure businesses and residents obey the rules.
“We will be there. There is a coordinated effort this weekend between the Department of Labor, our status officers and even the York Regional Police when they all need to be called, ”Scarpitti told CP24.
Scarpitti added that Costco and T&T in Markham have recently been accused of overcrowding in their stores. He said fines could range from $ 5,000 per day for an operator to $ 25,000 per day for a corporation.