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Toronto releases safety guidelines for businesses set to reopen
Katherine DeClerq, CP24.com
Published Friday, May 8, 2020 5:45PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 8, 2020 6:19PM EDT
As some retail stores prepare to open their doors for the first time in months, Toronto’s mayor said he is asking these businesses to not offer “blowout” sales in an effort to limit overcrowding.
Speaking to reporters at his daily COVID-19 briefing on Friday, Mayor John Tory said that the city will be providing businesses with a list of public health recommendations as they begin the process of reopening and providing curbside pickup after being forced to close due to the pandemic.
“We’ve come too far to endure any setbacks,” Tory said. “I don’t want to see the doors of our businesses open only to have to watch them close again due to the virus spreading.”
On Wednesday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that garden centres, nurseries and hardware stores will be the first businesses to reopen. He also said that non-essential retail stores with a street entrance could open for curbside pickup as of Monday.
Tory has previously suggested staggered pickup times to prevent long lines on sidewalks in densely populated areas, saying the city will be relying on the “cooperation” of the retail sector and the support of individual customers.
On Friday, Tory said he has been speaking with business associations across the city about the list of recommendations, adding that it is meant to be a tool to ensure owners and operators are aware of how to implement the safety measures at their stores.
He also said that he encouraged businesses not to offer “blowout” sales as that may result in overcrowding.
“One more request I made of them, and I do of others who may not have been on that call or heard the results of that call, business people can help us a lot by not having blowout sales or other things they know, because they are smart about this, that that will attract large amount of people.”
Tory said that sales such as these seem “unlikely in the era of curbside pickup” but that the next few weeks will be a test for how businesses reopen in the city.
Health officials say the list of recommendations includes advice on physical distancing, cleaning procedures, innovative ways of avoiding crowding such as pre-scheduling and how to control numbers within stores.
“Really it’s just the continuation of what we’ve seen done so well in stores like grocery stores where the owners have stepped up and put measures in place,” Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, who is also leading the city’s emergency response to the pandemic, said.
“It’s really about making sure that the rest of our business owners and operators in the city are aware of those provisions and are prepared to implement those in their individual establishment.”