Auto dealerships in the COVID-19 hotspots of Toronto and Peel regions in Ontario will remain open as the two municipalities enter a province-mandated partial lockdown, beginning today.
Toronto and neighbouring Peel have been slapped with restrictions as the Ontario government tries to bring soaring COVID-19 infections in the two regions under control.
It means, among other things, no indoor organized public events or social gatherings except with members of the same household, and a recommendation to only leave the house for essential reasons.
Under the restrictions, dealerships are permitted to be open for in-person shopping by appointment only and other safety restrictions.
“We are very pleased the Ontario Government has permitted auto dealers in Toronto and Peel Region to remain open in the latest lockdown move,” Trillium Automobile Dealers Association spokesman Frank Notte wrote in an email to Automotive News Canada. “New-car dealers have spent a significant amount of money retrofitting their stores to implement Public Health measures to protect customers and staff. They have gone above and beyond to ensure dealerships are safe places to do business.
“During the last lockdown, the TADA created safety protocols in anticipation of dealerships re-opening. Our members are extremely knowledgeable in running a safe business in the COVID era.”
The lockdown will limit most other non-essential retailers to curbside pickup, ban indoor dining at restaurants and bars, close personal care services, and shutter indoor sports facilities.
Schools and childcare services will remain open.
Grocery stores, pharmacies and big box retailers will be deemed essential and stay open, with capacity limits.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said on Friday that the measure was urgently needed to prevent more people dying from the virus.
“This virus, it spreads like wildfire, and in certain parts of the province it's spreading at alarming rates in the community,” he said. “Last week, modelling showed that if nothing was done we could face 6,000 daily cases ? overwhelming our ICUs shortly after that. More deaths. More losses. But we can avoid this if we take further action now.”
The lockdown will last a minimum of 28 days and the province said it will fine people $750 for violating public health rules.
The Canadian Press and Greg Layson of Automotive News Canada contributed to this report.