David Friend, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, December 24, 2020 1:05 pm EST
Last updated Thursday, December 24, 2020 1:06 pm EST
TORONTO – Drive-thru Christmas light festivals are going to get dark in Ontario weeks earlier than organizers planned under the stricter measures of Doug Ford’s COVID-19 that take effect on Saturday.
But several creators say they hope that last-minute efforts to lobby the government before the holiday will convince leaders to make drive-thru an exception to the blockade.
Monica Gomez, whose Polar Drive near Toronto Pearson International Airport was scheduled to run until January, says she was surprised when she heard it would have to close.
His region was already operating under stricter gray zone blocking measures that started on November 23, but drive-thrus was still allowed until the announcement earlier this week.
“It’s Christmas, it took us at the last minute and now people are not in charge,” she says of attempts to contact local authorities.
“It wasn’t just a recipe. It was about doing something for families. In our mind, we thought, why would you take that away from people now? “
Gomez says it doesn’t make sense that his contactless event can’t continue while drive-thru fast food restaurants can still deliver the items
Ontario is battling rising COVID-19 infection rates, including a new record of 2,447 cases reported Thursday.
Residents are being instructed to stay at home as long as possible and only leave for essential services, even before the province-wide blockade begins on December 26 and lasts at least a month.
The latest changes have impacted other companies that depended on experiences in the car.
Drive-in cinemas were told several days before the premiere of “Wonder Woman 1984” on December 25 that they would no longer be able to operate, while the Immersive Van Gogh drive-in exhibition will be forced to close as well.
Some Christmas lights drive-in events have already thrown in the towel, including Canadian Tire’s Christmas Trail, which closed on December 23 and canceled all future reservations.
Andrew Gidaro, who co-produces the Holiday Nights of Lights in Vaughan, Ont., Says he does not oppose the blockade, but feels that the province “missed the target a bit” when it grouped contactless events in vehicles in the latest measures.
He believes that a “meaningful dialogue” with local government officials in Vaughan could lead to an agreement that these events are “something necessary” for the community.
“We are hopeful that we can turn this thing around and continue to operate,” he added.