With the majority of non-essential stores closing in the 6ix and across Ontario, the question surrounding the fate of the LCBO and The Beer Store has finally been answered. Both stores will remain open, at least for the time being. This decision came down after Ontario Premier Doug Ford ordered all non-essential stores to close for a minimum of two weeks starting on March 24 at 11:59 p.m.
Ford gave that order regarding "non-essential" businesses in the afternoon, Monday, March 23.
According to CTV News, a senior provincial source has confirmed that the government-operated LCBO, the Beer Store, and even licensed cannabis retailers will stay open.
That would appear to class alcohol and cannabis as "essentials," under the provincial government's definition.
However, a source told CTV that both the LCBO and The Beer Store are generally viewed as grocery-type goods stores and that's why they will stay open.
But Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen De Villa, gave more information on the choice to keep the stores open and highlighted the human aspect of the decision.
According to City News, she explained there are people in the local community who have strong alcohol dependency issues.
She added "whether we care to admit it or not, there are many people in our community who have significant dependence issues with respect to alcohol."
De Villa continued: "I think we have to be very conscious of that fact and be aware that if that substance, that provision, is no longer available, that that would lead to pretty significant health consequences."
However, she stressed that this does not mean it's ok to pack yourself into lineups at LCBO right now.
"I'm sorry to hear of long lineups at any facility that clearly is not in keeping with the social distancing advice and very strong recommendations that we’ve been putting out there,” she emphasized.
Prior to Monday's latest announcements regarding COVID-19 in Ontario, the LCBO and the Beer Store had agreed to help combat the virus and practice social distancing by shortening store hours.
However, despite the efforts of the central government and Toronto's direction, people are reportedly still heading outdoors and not social distancing as they have been urged to do.
Ontario's numbers have almost doubled in the past four days since Thursday, March 19.
According to provincial health staff, that's likely due in no small part to students and other Canadians coming back from March Break, and residents heading home from abroad.
And, as Ontario remains in a state of emergency, Toronto officially followed suit on Monday.