TORONTO -- The Bay says it will close its flagship location on Queen Street Tuesday after leaving it open Monday, despite a provincial lockdown in effect in Toronto and Peel Region.

The Queen Street location remained fully open Monday despite orders for non-essential retailers to close their stores to in-person shopping in Toronto and Peel Region.

Toronto and Peel Region officially entered a 28-day lockdown on Monday, forcing restaurants, gyms, and non-essential stores to close to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Retailers can still offer curbside pickup and delivery and restaurants are also permitted to stay open for takeout and delivery.

Department stores across the GTA have been shuttered as part of the lockdown but a spokesperson for The Bay told Newstalk 1010 that the company's Queen Street location downtown is allowed to stay open to customers because groceries and other “essential items” are sold inside.

“The health and well-being of customers and associates remain our top priority as we continue to provide the essential products and services Canadians need,” the spokesperson said.

“At this time, while the majority of our stores in Toronto and Peel are only offering curbside pickup, the Hudson’s Bay Queen Street location, which offers grocery among other essential items, remains open with strict protocols in place as outlined by the government.”

The company said there are enhanced cleaning protocols in place at all stores and associates must undergo full health screenings when reporting for work.

“We remain committed to ensuring a healthy environment for all,” the statement concluded.

In a further statement issued to CP24 late Monday, The Bay said it decided to leave the Queen Street location open because there is a grocery store in the basement of the eight-floor location.

“On Sunday evening, the order issued by the province changed the guidelines regulating the operation of retail stores. We reviewed closely to ensure compliance and, as such, closed all our stores in Toronto and Peel but one, which contained a grocery store,” the statement read. “We understood this to be in line with the province's direction, however we have now made the decision to close our Queen Street store tomorrow. All Hudson's Bay stores in Toronto and Peel will offer shoppers curbside pickup.”

Health minister's office says store should not be open

Asked about the situation at a news conference on Monday afternoon, Premier Doug Ford said he would “have to look into it.”

Ford reiterated a call for shoppers to support small businesses during the lockdown.

“I'm doing everything we can to protect and support the small businesses out there,” Ford said.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, said any large stores that are open would have to offer essential goods that you would find in a grocery store, pharmacy, or hardware store.

In a statement to CP24, a spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott offered further clarification late Monday, noting that The Bay should not be allowing customers inside.

"The inclusion of discount and big box retailers selling groceries is intended to include retail with a full grocery store component. This would include WalMart and Costco for example, but not The Bay or IKEA," the statement read.

"We encourage all organizations to refer to the provincial regulations to clarify impacts to their business."

Speaking to CP24, one shopper said that when he asked staff inside The Bay about where he could find the grocery department, they told him groceries could be found in the basement at Pusateri's.

When he told them Pusateri's wasn't open, he said they informed him that it would be open shortly.

"They said, 'Oh, but we are getting them to open right away. They are restocking shelves right now. They will probably be open tomorrow,'" the shopper told CP24.