Walmart has retracted a policy that previously required customers to make an online order of at least $35 to receive a ‘free’ rapid test kit after Ontario Premier Doug Ford condemned the policy on social media.
The Ontario government announced Wednesday it will make about 5.5 million tests available across the province each week at grocery stores and pharmacies. The announcement was made at a Walmart location in Kitchener.
Initially, Walmart required customers to place an online pick-up order to receive one free COVID-19 rapid antigen test kit.
But in order to place an online order and get a free test kit, customers were required to spend a minimum of $35.
On Wednesday evening, Ford published a tweet in response to the mandatory purchase policy.
“Free means free,” he wrote. “We’re providing [rapid tests] free of charge and all participating partners are expected to honor that — no minimums or mandatory purchase.”
“If they don’t, we’ll give them to retailers or pharmacies that will.”
CTV News Toronto asked Walmart for an updated statement in response to Ford’s comments, to which the company responded that they would retract the policy and give the tests away for free.
“Our intention of distributing the kits through our online grocery pick-up service was to avoid long lines in our stores and to offer them to our customers in a safe, efficient and equitable manner,” a spokesperson for Walmart told CTV News Toronto.
“However, we’ve heard the concerns raised today and will make the kits available in our stores for free.”
When asked about the issue earlier on Wednesday, the Ministry of Health told CTV News Toronto that individual retailers have the ability to determine how the tests are distributed.
FULL LIST: Where to find a free COVID-19 rapid test
LONGO’S HAS SIMILAR POLICY
CTV News Toronto contacted Longo’s, another Ontario grocery only handing out rapid tests with online orders, who confirmed they have a $50 minimum online order requirement.
The $50 minimum for online orders was in place before the free test kits were announced, the company said.
They confirmed to CTV News Toronto it would not be changing.
Other companies in Ontario, like Rexall, will be handing out COVID-19 rapid tests at cash registers on a first-come, first-serve basis. No purchase is required.