Ford apologizes as rapid tests ‘disappeared like rapid fire’ in LCBO giveaway

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said free COVID-19 rapid tests offered Friday in LCBOs and other places across the province “were gone like rapid fire” and he apologized “For people who were in line”.

Ford says malls will be a key location for free rapid tests across the province during the holidays, and many people have said they would like to use the tests to help plan holiday gatherings in a safe manner.

“What’s ironic is that three months ago you couldn’t even pay someone to take some,” Ford said, adding that it was “great news” that the tests were to be carried out. widely disseminated.

Ford said Ontario has distributed 51 million free rapid tests to date at 45,000 sites, including businesses, schools and hospitals.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks at the province’s latest COVID-19 press conference on December 17, 2021. (SRC)

10 million more tests have been obtained and are expected to arrive next week, he said.

Ford also thanked the federal government and said “it is doing its best” to provide testing to the provinces.

Early risers encountered without testing

The latest installment in the province’s rapid testing strategy is a “holiday testing blitz” in which the province distributes approximately two million tests to the general public, including select LCBO stores.

Early risers lined up at various LCBO stores in Ottawa on Friday morning in hopes of getting a free COVID-19 rapid test kit – only to learn none were available yet.

“At the Hunt Club, we were told that none had arrived,” one person reported shortly before 9 a.m.

They weren’t alone. Several other people have taken to social media to report similar experiences.

Both the Ministry of Health’s “pop-up vacation” web page and LCBO press documents had indicated that the tests would be available in LCBOs starting Friday.

“We thank our customers for their patience and understanding,” the company said in an emailed statement to CBC News amid the delay, which Ottawa Public Health called on the province to resolve quickly.

“Store signage is also used at front doors to indicate whether a store has kits, does not have any, or is expecting kits,” the LCBO statement continued.

The LCBO had has listed seven locations in Ottawa where visitors could get a kit each:

  • Bank Street and Walkley Road.
  • Carling Avenue and Woodroffe Avenue (Fairlawn Center).
  • Rideau Street and King Edward Avenue.
  • Blair Road and Ogilvie Road (Gloucester).
  • West Hunt Club Road and Merivale Road (Nepean Crossroads).
  • Strandherd Drive and Greenbank Road (Nepean).
  • Innes Road and Tenth Line Road (Orléans).

Many people answered the call on Friday morning and lined up in front of these stores.

David Brennan arrived at the location at the intersection of Bank and Walkley just before 9 a.m.

“The parking lot was crowded,” he said. “There were audible moans of disappointment as the guy with the sign came out. It all sounded very improvised and dystopian.”

The tests are coming

By late morning, deliveries had arrived in some stores and a privileged few were able to pass tests.

“My sister is about to have a baby and I really want to see her,” said Mackenzie Stewart, just after receiving a box of tests at the LCBO location at the intersection of Rideau Street and King Edward Avenue.

“This will be the first time she has used rapid antigen tests.… My plan is to use them so that I know I am not putting her at risk.”

Late that afternoon, the province said testing was only available at one of Ottawa’s seven LCBOs.

WATCH | The tests have finally arrived:

Ottawa residents find limited supply of rapid tests in LCBO stores

Residents who were able to obtain the kits say they are relieved to have them before the holidays, but say they should have been widely available much sooner. 0:57

10 more gift slots in sight

The Ontario government has said 10 rapid test pickup locations are under review in Ottawa, and these locations are in addition to LCBO stores, although the addresses of these future locations have not been confirmed Friday afternoon.

Josephine Poulin, who also took tests at the Rideau Street LCBO, said testing is a great option.

But she added: “It would have been nicer to get it a little earlier and have it available more widely throughout town.”

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