Store at Toronto Eaton Centre closed after employee tests positive for COVID-19

A clothing store at Toronto's Eaton Centre is closed "until further notice" because an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, the store confirmed on Tuesday.

Uniqlo says employee with novel coronavirus was last in the store on Friday, Sept. 4

Giant COVID-19 messages greet shoppers on the front of the Toronto Eaton Centre. One store in the downtown mall, Uniqlo, has reported a confirmed case of COVID-19 and says it has undergone a deep cleaning. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

A clothing store at Toronto's Eaton Centre is closed "until further notice" because an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, the store confirmed on Tuesday.

In an email to CBC Toronto, Uniqlo Canada said the infected employee was last in the store on Friday, Sept. 4 and the company was informed of the case on Sunday, Sept. 6. It said the store was immediately closed. 

Uniqlo Canada said it informed Cadillac Fairview and Toronto Public Health and the store underwent "deep cleaning" by a professional cleaning service on Monday, Sept. 7.

"The store will remain closed until further notice as we continue to follow health regulation instructions," Salina Shairulla, spokesperson for Uniqlo Canada, said in the email on Tuesday.

Cadillac Fairview (CF), the company that owns and operates the Eaton Centre, said in an email on Tuesday that Uniqlo acted "quickly and responsibly" by informing mall management and public health officials as soon as it learned of the case. It said the store has undergone a deep cleaning as directed by public health officials. 

"Out of an abundance of caution, the client has closed the store for the time being," CF said.

CF said it has taken actions of its own to protect shoppers but it has no plans to close the mall.

"At the same time, CF has undertaken extra cleaning of all elevator banks, food court tables, common area seating, doors and stair railings, and all other high-touch points in the complex," it said.

"At this point in time, no further action is required and the building can remain open for business."

Mall urges other stores to report cases promptly

In a memo to clients dated Monday, CF said  it's urging other stores at the downtown mall to follow the example of Uniqlo and immediately report any COVID-19 cases among employees, customers, or contractors to mall management and public health.

"Working together in this open and transparent fashion will go a long way in minimizing the risk to all occupants," it said in the memo.

To protect employees and customers throughout the mall as the pandemic continues, CF said in the memo that it has implemented "special cleaning" in all common areas and what it calls "high-touch points" regularly, rolled out measures to encourage physical distancing, including hand washing signs in washrooms, and increased the number of hand-sanitizers in the mall.

"We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and will continue to provide updates as they are received," it said.

Employees taking steps to prevent virus spread, Uniqlo says

In a statement to CBC Toronto on Saturday, Uniqlo had initially said the COVID-19 case was in late July but provided no other details.

On Tuesday, Uniqlo clarified, saying that information was incorrect and the information should not have been shared without fact checking.

"There was no COVID-19 case in July, this is our first confirmed COVID-19 case in any of our stores in Canada," Shairulla said.

In the statement, Uniqlo had also said: "At this time all employees are taking the necessary steps of social distancing and taking other precautions so that we do not spread this virus any more."

With files from Sabrina Jonas


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