Yesterday, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, the provincial government announced that COVID-19 rapid test kits would be available to pick up at LCBO stores across the province.
In a media release dated Dec. 16, the LCBO stated that the test kits would be available “as early as today”, and the “allocation of rapid tests kits will start to be available on a first-come, first-served basis at 100 LCBO stores across the province.”
While Kingston is currently dealing with the highest COVID-19 case rate across the country, only one LCBO, on Midland Avenue, was designated to receive the tests for distribution, and despite the provincial announcement, that store had still not received the tests on Friday morning, and store staff did not know when they would be received.
Alison Billings, a local mother of two, took to Twitter this morning after lining up outside the Midland LCBO in hopes of picking up rapid tests for her family members.
Billings arrived at the store around 8:40 a.m., and said there were about 25 people already in line. By the time a staff member addressed the crowd, about 15 minutes later, the line had swelled to over 40 people, according to Billings.
“She came out and she said, ‘I’m really sorry. We don’t have any tests. The LCBO is not sending them to us. The Ontario government is sending them to us. We didn’t even have any idea until it was posted yesterday that we were getting them and we have no idea when we’re going to receive them.'” Billings said.
“And then she said, ‘Please be nice to us. Don’t shoot the messenger.’ And everyone was really understanding of the fact that they had no control over the situation.”
Billings went on to say that about two-thirds of the lineup dispersed at that time, noting that it’s frustrating that Toronto appears to be handing out tests already, and Kingston, the hardest-hit area right now, hasn’t received any.
“It’s a bit frustrating,” she expressed. “We have two kids, one of whom had to isolate. She just got out of isolation today because she had an exposure at school. The other we have kept home all week but his school closed on Tuesday because of a lack of teachers.”
While her children did bring home rapid tests from school, she pointed out that those tests are specifically for the children to use throughout the Christmas break, in order to ensure a safe return to school. “Every person in Ontario should have free access to rapid tests, but especially in Kingston right now,” she noted.
“You know when Kingston has the highest rates right now in Canada, like if it was Toronto, Doug Ford would be making sure there were tests. And I saw articles with lineups of people waiting for tests in Toronto. And when Kingston has a much higher case count per capita, I would think that perhaps they should focus on the areas that are hardest hit first and then expand out.”
As of 1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021 — a mere four hours after Billings lined up and was told there were no tests at the local LCBO — the official LCBO account released a tweet saying that all available tests had been distributed.
The list of LCBO stores that will be making test kits available can be found here.