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Coronavirus: New drivers face long waits at Toronto-area testing centres

Ontario DriveTest centres dealing with massive lines
WATCH: If you're looking to get a driver's licence, be prepared to wait. Many DriveTest centres are facing hours-long lineups as the facilities deal with months of backlog created by a shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Albert Delitala reports.

Anyone looking to write a driver’s test in the Toronto area is likely to face hours-long waits, as testing centres grapple with a massive backlog resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the DriveTest centre on Lawrence Avenue East in North York on Wednesday, Jomar Buhain lined up for five hours to write his G1 driving test.

“I woke up at 6 a.m. and got here at 7 a.m.,” he said.

While the wait was longer than expected, he believes long lines will simply be a fact of life for now.

“Because of the social distancing, that’s the reason why we have this long line, but we need to accept it because that it the reality nowadays.

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Still in line, Matilda Almraj had already spent five hours waiting to write her G1 test.

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“It’s, like, coronavirus now and we need to wait in the line,” she said. “We need to protect ourselves.”

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation acknowledges there is a backlog of driving tests, blaming its pent-up demand on the recent closure due to the novel coronavirus lockdown.

“Once we’ve assessed the situation and determine how the backlog is going, then we will be able to move into the next phase, but from the beginning, we’ve asked for patience,” said Caroline Mulroney, Ontario’s minister of transportation.

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In an email response to Global News, the ministry stated it has extended hours at 14 centres, with current licences that were set to expire remaining valid for now.

Additionally, DriveTest facilities are serving customers on alternating weeks based on birth date to limit crowding, the email stated.

“We hear a lot from families, from drivers and from commercial drivers that they’re eager to get back on the road and get these tests done, but we need to do so in a prudent way,” Mulroney said.

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The ministry asks anyone who can wait to receive a driver’s licence to do so.

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