COVID blitz of big box stores shows Brampton is behaving

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Big box stores in Brampton came through last weekend's COVID enforcement blitz without any major infractions.

The highly publicized blitz across Southern Ontario was carried out by Ontario's Ministry of Labour to crackdown on stores and warehouses that were in violation of rules meant to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Ministry inspectors, local bylaw officers and police were focussing on ensuring workers and patrons were wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing and following all health and safety measures.

"I know three or four tickets were handed out in Brampton for relatively minor offenses," Mayor Patrick Brown told inbrampton.com. "I know there was a big box fined for people not sitting more than six-feet apart in a lunch room, but that's about it."

While images shared through social media show what appears to be stores overcrowded with shoppers, Brown explained that Ontario guidelines allow for such a high capacity that it may look like the rules are being broken when they are not. "This weekend, when the inspectors arrived, they (the box stores) were all under the Provincial thresholds in terms of capacity."

The Ministry says it will continue to blitz cities and businesses where there is high customer traffic and warn that violators of COVID-19 rules could face steep fines and in the case of businesses, be shut down.

"We know most businesses are operating responsibly and taking the necessary steps to protect their workers and customers, and I want to thank them for their efforts," said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. "Where we find an employer who has been acting in bad faith, we won't hesitate to take action by immediately slapping them with a ticket and a fine. There will be real consequences for those who break the rules."

During last weekend’s campaign inspectors issued 11 formal warnings and 11 tickets and found 70 per cent of the retailers they visited were in compliance with COVID-19 rules. The Ministry would not identify those who were breaking the rules.

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