HBC Lockdown Rule Amendment Request Dismissed

Hudson's Bay Co.'s bid to amend Ontario's retail lockdown rules has been dismissed. A panel of Ontario Superior Court judges says the “wisdom and efficacy” of the province's lockdown measures allowing big box stores that happen to sell groceries to remain fully open – potentially generating more customer traffic – is “open to question.” And the court does “agree with HBC” that some of the lockdown measures seem to permit behaviour that is “inconsistent with the broader policy goal of reducing community transmission.” However, ruling in favour of HBC could be at odds with the broader goal of limiting COVID-19 while allowing the sale of essential items in stores. The logic of reducing community transmission suggests that only goods deemed essential should be offered for sale in stores and that the public should only be permitted into areas of a retail store where essential items are sold – as is the case currently in Quebec. As well, the court's role is limited to determining whether this provision is authorized by the Reopening Ontario Act, which the judges say it “clearly is.”