A state of emergency was called in Ontario in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic, but premier Doug Ford says many places will remain open, including grocery stores, convenience stores, and for some, more importantly, the LCBO, the Beer Store and the Ontario Cannabis Store will be continuing operations.
On Monday, the LCBO put out a tweet saying they had heard concerns from customers, but they would remain open.
“To help ensure a safe shopping experience, we have elevated our cleaning and sanitation protocols in our stores and warehouses and have increased prevention awareness amongst our staff. We want our employees to take care of themselves and, in turn, you.”
Starting Thursday, LCBO will be limiting store hours from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, and reminded customers that delivery options were available.
LCBO will also not be accepting product returns, but are encouraging customers to hold on to their receipts so they can return their products in the future.
The LCBO did not respond to a request for further comment Tuesday, following the announcement of the state of emergency.
The decision to keep liquor stores open in the province was met with mixed reactions.
On Wesnesday, the Beer Store announced it too would be reducing hours of operations following concerns over COVID-19.
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Starting March 19, all locations will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday, as of March 19th. Stores that operate from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. will not be affected by the change, nor will Sunday hours.
Also starting March 19, all Beer Store locations will suspend empty container returns until March 31. The Beer Store is asking customers to keep their empty containers until after March 31, when “deposits will be fully honoured.”
On top of those changes, Beer Store staff may limit the number of customers in stores in an effort at social distancing.
The Beer Store pointed to their online delivery system, which is operation in the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa and Kitchener-Waterloo, as an alternative option to purchase alcohol.
As of Tuesday, The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) will also continue operations.
Over the weekend, The Canadian Press reported that sales of cannabis had seen a huge spike in both Quebec and Ontario.
Ontario Cannabis Store spokesperson Daffyd Roderick said the retailer received almost 3,000 orders on Saturday, an 80 per cent increase over an average Saturday.
“As much as possible, OCS.ca is operating normally, with a higher than usual volume of online sales,” Roderick told Global News in an emailed statement Tuesday. “Canada Post is no longer making in-person deliveries, however our same-day next-day delivery options are still available, but with limited capacity.”
OCS office staff are working remotely and respecting social distancing protocols Roderick added.
Although many “essential services” will continue operating for the time being, the state of emergency in Ontario will affect the following services, according to Ford:
- Facilities providing recreational programs
- Private schools
- Licensed child care centres
- Bars and restaurants (takeout and delivery permitted)
- Theatres, cinemas and concert venues
— With files from The Canadian Press.