Premier, mayor condemn game store line-up

TORONTO — A game company that incurred the wrath of Premier Doug Ford and the mayor of Toronto for allowing a long lineup of customers to form for a new release says its stores across Canada are closing their doors.

Gamers queued up Friday outside an EB Games Canada store around 9 a.m. for a chance to get their hands on a copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the latest chapter in a long-running series.

One woman told CP24 that she lives with her grandparents but is being "super careful," including by keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer in her backpack to avoid COVID-19.

TV news images showed a store employee appearing to hand out flyers to customers in line, some of whom wore masks or covered their faces with scarves.

Ford called it "unacceptable."

"This is exactly what causes the spread, people gather and they're in close proximity to each other, I just can't stress it enough," he said.

"I'm frustrated, to be very frank, with the store owner that would allow this to happen. You're putting everyone else into danger. Please, do not create these environments out there."

Toronto Mayor John Tory noted that the city of Toronto has asked all non-essential businesses to close.

"They were asked to close down if they're not an essential business, and they chose not to do so," Tory said.

"In so doing, they placed commerce ahead of what was clearly identified as the public interest. I don't necessarily blame the people who went and lined up. If the store hadn’t have opened, they wouldn’t have lined up."

Late Friday, EB Games Canada said all its stores would close at the end of the business day.

"Like many retailers, we will continue to monitor COVID-19 closely with the commitment to open again at a time we feel both our team and customers are safe," it said in a post on social media.

The company said it will still offer products online. 

Public health officials say COVID-19 droplet spread can be up to two metres.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 20, 2020.

The Canadian Press