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On Monday, when York Region entered red zone of Ontario's COVID-19 framework, a video of a lineup inside a HomeSense store in Thornhill, Ont. started circulating Twitter the same evening.
In the video, shoppers are seen standing less than six feet proximity from one another, with shopping carts full of various home goods and decor items.
The video shared by journalist Farah Nasser has already received over 332,000 views.
Day 1 of red zone in York Region. This was the scene inside a Homesense in Thornhill this afternoon.
"Very busy and there’s probably a 45 minute wait to check out," a shopper tells @Mirandanthistle. pic.twitter.com/trA4LcpGRY
— Farah Nasser (@FarahNasser) February 22, 2021
Although a number of restrictions have been lifted, and businesses are allowed to reopen in York Region's red zone, its neighbouring regions, Toronto and Peel, remain in lockdown until at least March 8.
Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti and Toronto Mayor John Tory had recently called on Vaughan's mayor to place additional restrictions in the city as it entered the red zone, such as reducing the maximum number of people allowed in stores.
Their concerns were in regards to people from other cities going to York Region to shop at stores that are closed in their areas.
"We urge all residents to continue following the public health advice in their area and to avoid region-hopping at this time," said Mayor Frank Scarpitti.
York Region moved to the red zone after consultation with Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams.
"While the health indicators have improved enough to allow us to return an additional region to the Framework, we are not yet at the point where we can safely transition back the remainder of the province," said Williams.
"Everyone is strongly advised to continue staying at home, avoid social gatherings, only travel between regions for essential purposes, and limit close contacts to your household or those you live with regardless of which level of the Framework you are in."
In light pf the video's circulation online, HomeSense was trending on Twitter Tuesday afternoon as people across Ontario responded to scenes of the lineups and crowds inside the HomeSense store.
I'm ready to quit. As a healthcare worker, govt doesn't have our backs. My heart aches for all who had their 'elective' surgeries cancelled, the wait lists, fear of hospitals, the frontline staff who are just now resting. Do u know how many late dx cancers we r seeing now? Lots https://t.co/cZg6COsyvr
— Dr. Barb King (@DrBarbKing) February 23, 2021
What on earth does Homesense sell that you need so desperately right now? Candles? A cute knickknack for your coffee table? https://t.co/7QcYRQXcQu
— Deborah Snider (@DeborahASnider) February 23, 2021
Seeing Homesense trending I saw these #gnomes in the posts so of course now I have to head over to #Homesense stand in a huge line for 45 minutes, put my family/myself health at risk to buy them. I must have these gnomes on my shelf today. #NOT #Health #limitnumbers #healthrisk pic.twitter.com/57DNb3dnPv
— Claire (@TopTweeterGirl) February 23, 2021
My superpower is being able to simultaneously think people who crowd in line at Homesense are acting foolishly AND know that the ultimate responsibility for this mess rests with our political leadership.
— Joshua Hind (@joshuahind) February 23, 2021
I have to admit that I am a Homesense junkie. An addict. A weekly visitor in the Before Times.
But I haven’t been in one since last February? Yes, I miss it but this just shows how dangerous it would be to even try. Wow. https://t.co/XMdsmuh6ux
— Anne with an "e" (@mrsmaris) February 23, 2021
I can't come up with a single reason to visit Homesense in normy times much less line up like cattle during a pandemic. https://t.co/tBIrWPzdGD
— Cal Deobald (@calmudge0n) February 23, 2021
The homesense video now is making me ask: what suburban step above outlet housewares store would you risk it all for?
— jump for my love (lockdown) (@JodiesJumpsuit) February 23, 2021
Yes and I bet not many are actually from York region. Hope those pillows and mattress pads are worth breathing in that line for 45 minutes. We are doomed.
— Ruth Dawson Clegg (@Ruth_Daws) February 23, 2021
Some people are calling out the Ontario government for reopening York Region:
Getting upset at the people in line at Homesense feels a lot like buying into the continual government drumbeat the severity of the pandemic is our fault, not theirs. Feels like putting the onus on the people following the policies, not the people making the policies.
— robert hiltz (@robert_hiltz) February 23, 2021
You're allowed to be infuriated by that Homesense video, but those people are only doing what's been made permissible by the Doug Ford government, a government that has been bafflingly inconsistent in its messaging and mandates for virtually the entire pandemic.
— Mike Beauvais (@MikeBeauvais) February 23, 2021
Plenty of room to be outraged at the massive government policy failures allowing this to happen AND the terrible judgment of people engaged in stupid and unnecessary behaviour in the middle of the pandemic. https://t.co/X1Foiw7psT
— Emmett Macfarlane (@EmmMacfarlane) February 23, 2021
You know what I find more outrageous than people lining at Homesense ; Ford is telling the 34 public health units they will be responsible for administration of the vaccine, after the provincial government “has been working on the big vaccination plan”
— Linden (@AnnaNikolo) February 23, 2021