“I’m worried about bringing it home to my mother.”
The lineup Thursday afternoon outside the Eaton Centre had nothing to do with last-minute shopping.
It was for urgent testing.
Dozens of people stood on Queen St. W waiting patiently to get PCR tests at a private lab inside the mall to see if they have COVID or not.
Carolina Sousa’s parents just arrived two days ago for a visit from Brazil for two weeks.
“We are all getting tested just to be sure,” Sousa said.
Like many of the people waiting in the cold, their worries for 2022 centre on the pandemic, the new Omicron variant, and where it takes Ontario.
“it’s all unpredictable with COVID. It just the uncertainty of not knowing what’s going to happen and if it’s going to get worse,” she said.
“Hopefully the vaccine will make the new variant less impactful.”
Shano M. decided it was best if he and his two young children were tested Thursday because there is a chance his wife might be positive.
All three tested negative using rapid antigen tests.
But – with the holidays in full swing – he wants to be certain.
“Christmas is everything for them,” he said of his kids.
His family’s deepest worry for the new year: “schools closing is our biggest concern” he said.
“The last time that happened it was very difficult on working parents. I don’t really know what we will do if that happens again.”
Shano says he feels his family can handle everything else – just as they have been doing for two years.
“But if schools close we are in trouble,” he said.
Alejandro Nosada recently heard from a contact he might have been exposed to COVID-19.
So he showed up at the private testing clinic just inside the sprawling mall.
He hopes the new year starts with the push for vaccination having the same momentum it has had most of 2021.
“I just hope people get vaccinated so that this thing can wind down,” Nosada said.
“I think this thing is here to stay and we are going to have to learn to live with it. Just so long as we protect the weaker among us.”
One shopper said his biggest concern is the welfare of his family.
“I’m not worried about getting sick,” said Paul Hurley. “It’s my mother. she is 70 at this point and so I’m worried about bringing it home to my mother.”