Ontario government's big-box store blitz is making its way to Simcoe Muskoka the week of Feb. 5 to ensure essential businesses are following public health protocols.

Inspections will happen at big-box stores, grocery stores, service stations, hotels, warehousing and manufacturing businesses in communities across the region, including Barrie, Bracebridge, Orillia, Collingwood and Huntsville.

The Ministry of Labour had said the most common violations include people not wearing the proper protective equipment and maintaining physical distancing. Sanitation and cleanliness of places like lunchrooms and washrooms were also flagged.

The blitz sends dozens of ministry inspectors and local bylaw enforcement officers to essential businesses across Ontario.

Premier Doug Ford announced the inspections after criticism for allowing big-box stores to remain open for in-person shopping amid the province-wide lockdown.

The fines for failing to comply with the orders under the Reopening Ontario Act and the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act are $1,000 for corporations and $750 for individuals, including customers and employees. If convicted, fines could reach as high as $100,000 for individuals, plus one year in prison.

Last weekend, the province inspected 523 businesses across Toronto, Hamilton and the Waterloo region and found 60 per cent of businesses had at least a single infraction.