People line up outside downtown Toronto EB Games store amid coronavirus outbreak

EB Games store in downtown Toronto on Yonge Street. (March 20, 2020.). Adam Dabrowski / Global News

Customers lined up along a popular downtown Toronto street waiting to get into EB Games to get their hands on two popular video games amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons and DOOM Eternal were released on Friday and many lined up along Yonge Street, just south of Dundas Street, to make their purchases. Some wore masks, others had hand sanitizer and some kept a short distance away from each other.

Toronto health officials have said they recommend non-essential businesses close and encourage social distancing.

A sign on the door said: “Please note: on Friday March 20 we are only serving those with a pre-order for Animal Crossing or Doom in order to maintain the safety of  our staff/customers.”

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford expressed his disappointment when asked about the lineups at an unrelated press conference on Friday.

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“It’s unacceptable,” Ford said. “Please do not get in line. Practice social distancing. This is exactly what causes the spread, when people gather and are in close proximity to each other.”

“I just can’t stress it enough. Do not do that. And I am frustrated to be very frank with the store owner, that would allow this to happen. They have a responsibility, everyone in this province has a responsibility to make sure we protect each other. I am very disappointed that the store owner will do this.”

“I think a lot of us pre-ordered this before this whole COVID-19 thing happened so none of us were really expecting this. Most of us probably respect the rules of self-isolation and were just coming out to get this game and will most likely go back into self-isolation once we get this game,” Chris Rose said, adding that he had been waiting in line for about 25-30 minutes.

Rose said he thinks the gaming company should have offered customers a digital download code in place of a physical copy.

“Just picking up a game, we pre-ordered it a long time ago and were really anxious for it to come out,” Ryan Livingston told Global News, adding he had been standing in the lineup for about 10 minutes.

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“They have been really good about processing people. They have hand sanitizers, they have a numbering system, so they are really organized.”

“There are risks, everyone is doing the best they can to try and obviously minimize contact. They are trying to keep a little bit of distance between each other so that the health risks aren’t as bad,” Livingston added.

Late Friday, EB Games Canada said all its stores would close at the end of the business day.

“Like many retailers, we will continue to monitor COVID-19 closely with the commitment to open again at a time we feel both our team and customers are safe,” it said in a post on social media.

The company said it will still offer products online.

With files from the Canadian Press

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