In response to social media reports that face mask displays at certain Walmart locations were blocked off as stores moved to adhere to new Ontario government COVID-19 restrictions, a spokesperson tells Global News staff are responding quickly to correct the issue.
At 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, another stay-at-home order and an emergency declaration across the province in response to rising COVID-19 cases, an increased spread of variants of concern cases as well as strained intensive care unit capacity.
As part of the orders, the government moved to limit most non-essential retail businesses to curbside pickup only. Big-box stores were restricted to selling essential items only for people shopping in-person and capacity caps were imposed.
With shoppers who went to big-box stores on Thursday, there were posts on social media from customers who tried to access items that were deemed non-essential that were blocked off.
“@WalmartCanada I can buy a Bbq/patio set in Walmart this morning but I can’t buy a mask if I need one. Your manager said masks are considered clothing…we can’t sell clothing items. So much for masks being essential and mandatory,” Twitter user @Jenn____Long posted Thursday morning, showing pictures of masks behind a rope and clear wrapping.
Similar photos were posted on Twitter showing face masks and coverings behind tape and ropes.
Global News contacted representatives for Premier Doug Ford and Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott, who said face masks and coverings should be treated as essential items.
When asked about the social media postings on Thursday, a Walmart Canada spokesperson said the company is looking into the matter.
“We thank our customers for their patience and understanding as we implement the new guidelines. In this case, face masks should be permitted for sale in our stores and we are working to have this situation resolved,” Adam Grachnik told Global News Thursday afternoon.