Ontario's COVID-19 inspection blitz to visit over 400 more big-box stores and retailers

Jan 29 2021, 7:37 pm

Hundreds of stores across the province will be visited by Ontario’s COVID-19 enforcement officers this weekend.

On Friday, the government announced that its provincial offences officers would visit more than 400 stores in Toronto, Hamilton, and Kitchener-Waterloo on Saturday and Sunday.

Officers will be ensuring that businesses are following public health guidelines and properly protecting workers and customers from coronavirus.

A total of 1,147 stores across Ontario have been visited by enforcement officers since the beginning of January. As a result, 112 tickets have been given out to businesses and individuals this month.

“We’ll keep it up as long as there are bad actors out there,” said Monte McNaughton, the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

“Our government is confident that the majority of workplaces are taking all necessary steps to protect their customers and workers from the spread of COVID-19. However, if we find businesses putting people at risk, we will take immediate action.”

According to the government, failure to properly screen staff and patrons, improper social distancing, and workplaces not having adequate COVID-19 workplace safety plans were the most common reasons cited for non-compliance.

Corporations can be fined $1,000 for failing to comply with the Reopening Ontario Act or the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. Individuals can face fines of $750.

In addition to big box and retail stores, officers have also visited restaurants and essential service establishments. The inspections are also conducted by municipal bylaw officers and public health inspectors.

“This late in the pandemic, there is absolutely no excuse for owners, staff and customers alike not to be following health and safety rules,” McNaughton said.

To date, Ontario has seen 264,300 COVID-19 cases and 6,072 virus-related deaths.

Zoe DemarcoZoe Demarco

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