"These are not normal times": Toronto releases its plan to support retail stores reopening

May 8 2020, 1:48 pm

Mayor John Tory said that Toronto is supporting the reopening of select businesses and retail stores offering curbside pickup on Monday, which was mandated by the province on May 6, but emphasized it must be done “in a safe way.”

On Friday, Tory said the city has recommendations for businesses as they reopen, putting together a comprehensive guide in a short period of time.

“It is critical that the opening of more businesses and shops is done in a safe way that doesn’t allow for further spread of this deadly virus. Much of that – as always has been the case – will rely on individual residents continuing to do the right thing and keeping their distance from others. And it will absolutely rely on businesses continuing to do the right thing and following the provincial regulations and public health recommendations,” Tory said.

“I strongly encourage all businesses that are permitted to open to closely follow the advice and guidance of public health experts by ensuring physical distancing measures are in place, and to diligently plan for their re-opening in advance so that they keep their employees and customers safe and prevent any further spread of COVID-19.”

On May 8, gardening centres and nurseries opened for in-store payment and purchases, operating under the same guidelines that grocery stores and pharmacies have been following.

Starting Saturday, May 9, hardware stores and safety supply stores will be permitted to open for in-store payment and purchases. And, on Monday, May 11, all retail stores with a street entrance can also begin to offer curbside pickup and delivery.

The city provided examples of how business owners can help keep employees and customers safe, such as managing the flow of costumers into stores by placing employees, signage and visual cues like cones or tape.

Employees and customers should also wear face coverings, such as non-medical masks or scarves. Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, strongly recommended staff to wear face coverings if physical distancing is not attainable in their workplace.

Businesses should also manage lines inside the store by placing tape every two metres, allow for online or over the phone orders, schedule pickup times for customers and if possible have contactless payment options.

According to the city, as businesses in Toronto consider how to allow curbside pickup, they should continue to follow advice from public health experts and support proper hand hygiene, keep surfaces and objects clean, and find ways to limit contact between people.

“I don’t want to see businesses open only to have them close again because the virus starts to spread again,” the mayor said.

Tory added that he believes the vast majority of businesses will make the necessary adjustments to keep costumers, employees and the business safe.

“These are not normal times. We must ensure these measures are in place for people to stay open for business,” Tory said.

But the mayor did note that reopening the economy will not help businesses that have already had to close, some because landlords are still demanding rent payments.

While Tory said he is aware there were some problems with the Commercial Rent Assistance Program, changes are being made to make it easier for landlords to apply.

“Landlords should be working out some arrangement with their small business tenant,” the mayor said.

“It’s not only the right thing to do, but it makes business sense. If the tenant’s business closes that landlord will have a vacant property on their hands, which won’t help them at all,” Tory said.

If commercial landlords don’t change their behaviour Tory said that a provincial ban on commercial evictions during the period of the emergency will likely be mandated.

To date, there are 7,114 total coronavirus cases with 4,717 resolved and 532 reported deaths in Toronto.