Reopening Canada: A Guide for Non-Essential Retailers

Data suggests that Canada is beginning to flatten the curve. Some provinces have already loosened restrictions and have announced return-to-work plans for businesses. Provincial governments are working to develop  reopening  plans for businesses, which will likely be rolled out across a number of stages. We anticipate that some categories of non-essential retailers will be given the green light to reopen during the early stages of most of these plans.

As such, it is critical that retailers are prepared, and ensure that any reopening plan follows available guidelines. We have developed this guide to assist non-essential retailers with their gradual reopening plans, based on guidelines of provincial reopening plans. As the plans will vary province-by-province, it will be important to understand the guidelines in each province, and similarities and differences among them, to ensure efficient execution.

The following chart sets out key guidelines released to date for the reopening of non-essential retailers, and is not a list of every possible guideline or element. In addition, retailers that are also health care businesses and are permitted to open are advised to also follow the approved guidelines set by their professional colleges in order to open for business (which are not set out below). We will be updating this chart as reopening plans are announced or updated. Please click here for a PDF version and visit our COVID-19 Recovery Hub for regular updates.

For general guidelines applicable to all businesses, please see our COVID-19 recovery and reopening tracker.

British Columbia

The provincial-wide State of Emergency has been extended to July 7. Public health orders remain in effect.

Key Dates and Updates

  • April 22: Government wants to see “at least a couple of days” without any new COVID-19 cases before officials start easing restrictions.
  • April 29: The provincial state of emergency was extended for another two weeks.
  • May 4: Premier Horgan announces BC’s four phase “Restart Plan,” which will involve the government lifting restrictions on businesses in phases, gradually allowing for more social and economic activity. BC is currently in Phase 1, and will likely enter Phase 2 in mid-May. Under Phase 2, businesses ordered to close may reopen provided they work with WorkSafeBC to develop a plan to reopen safely.
  • May 19: A variety of businesses and services, including restaurants, cafes, retail stores, salons, and barbershops are allowed to reopen under enhanced protocols. See for example Guidance issued by the Government on April 25, 2020 for retailers and grocery stores.
  • June 24: The province began gradually entering Phase 3 of its reopening plan, with non-essential travel allowed throughout the province. Hotels, resorts, RV parks, and other accommodations were allowed to reopen, as well as some overnight camping.

Workplace Safety Guidelines

  • When Phase 2 of BC’s restart plan commences, expected in mid-May, businesses that have been ordered to close, including hair salons, restaurants and pubs, will be asked to develop plans to reopen safely.
  • Any business restarting operations must ensure it is in compliance with the provincial health officer’s orders and in accordance with occupational health and safety guidance provided by WorkSafe BC.
  • WorkSafeBC has published a backgrounder for workplaces resuming operations during Phase 2 of BC’s Restart Plan. The backgrounder provides the following information:
  • Employers preparing to resume operations must put a safety plan in place that assesses the risk of COVID-19 transmission in their workplace, and develop measures to reduce these risks;
  • WorkSafeBC is developing industry-specific protocols and procedures, checklists, planning templates, education and training materials, signage and other tools as required;
  • WorkSafeBC will be engaging directly with employers and workers in returning industries through education, consultation and workplace inspections to support employers as they build their safety plan to return to partial or full operation.
  • Phase 3 will involve the opening up of additional businesses and services, such as personal services establishments, and is expected to start between June and September 2020, if transmission rates remain low or in decline.
  • Phase 4 will begin when there is a vaccine, a successful treatment, evidence of community immunity or equivalent.
  • Returns are currently allowed. Washing hands or using hand sanitizer after handling returns is recommended.
  • Every customer must be asked if they are ill or have symptoms of respiratory illness as they enter the workplace. Customers who are ill must be sent home. Signage is an option.
  • Every employee must be asked if they are ill, or have symptoms of respiratory illness, as they enter the workplace. Employees who are ill must be sent home. Signage may be an option.
  • Fitting rooms are permitted. Where fitting rooms do not have a door and walls, closing alternate fitting rooms is recommended. Cleaning of high-touch elements between customers and full cleaning on a regular basis is also recommended.
  • Reusable bags are permitted. Best practice is to post signage asking customers to wash reusable bags regularly.
  • All employers are required to post a workplace COVID-19 safety plan (or summary) on their website and in the workplace. Plans must be available to a health officer on request.
  • Guidance document for malls, shops, and stores can be found (here).
  • Guidance document for returning to operation for personal services businesses can be found (here).

Physical Distancing Guidelines

  • There will be a continued strong emphasis on personal hygiene, including hand washing, physical distancing and staying at home if you are sick at every phase of the Restart Plan.
  • Under Phase 2, small gatherings will be permitted.
  • 2 metres of physical distancing is required between any two people; one person (employees and customers) per 5 square metres of open retail space (this is required for food businesses, and recommended for other retailers).
  • Gathering of 50 persons or more is prohibited.

Alberta

Key Dates and Updates

  • May 1: Alberta began its “relaunch strategy” and has loosened restrictions.
  • May 14: Phase 1 will begin, but some COVID-19 restrictions will remain in place for Calgary and Brooks. On May 14, some retail stores (including clothing, furniture, and book stores) are allowed to reopen. Cafes and restaurants with no bar service are allowed to run at half capacity. Calgary and Brooks are allowed to rejoin the province in reopening parts of their economies on May 14 (with retail stores, specifically) but the opening of hairstyling services and restaurants in these areas has been pushed back until May 25.
  • If the first phase goes well, the next phase, which will include the reopening of movie theatres and spas could begin on June 19.
  • June 12: Phase 2 of the province's plan will begin with the reopening of gyms, arenas, spas, tanning salons, movie theatres, libraries, pools, sports activities, casinos, bingo halls, community halls, instrumental concerts, massage services, acupuncture services, reflexology services, summer schools, and other businesses.
    • Restaurants are also able to reopen at full capacity but no more than six people are allowed per table.

Workplace Safety Guidelines

  • Workers/patrons should be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Workplaces should have a plan to ensure that any worker/patron who has any COVID-19 symptom is not permitted into the workplace.
  • Businesses should follow cleaning and disinfecting practices and should keep a log of daily cleaning, regularly clean and disinfect any surfaces and equipment touched, and frequently sanitize washrooms.
  • Shopping baskets and carts should be disinfected between patron use.
  • Surfaces in change rooms should be cleaned and disinfected after each use.
  • Workplaces should keep and monitor an inventory of personal protective equipment to ensure workers always have access to appropriate protective equipment, if required.
  • Ensure staff are trained on hygiene, sanitation, and any updated policies or procedures related to preventing transmission of COVID-19.
  • Encourage proper hand hygiene and coughing and sneezing etiquette.
  • Ensure employees have access to hand sanitizer as required.
  • Allow staff to wear masks if preferred, even if a mask is not necessary for the work they are performing.
  • Stagger staff arrival and departure times, lunch times, breaks, and meetings to reduce the number of workers in one place at a given time.
  • Designate lockers and storage spaces to individual workers.
  • Encourage staff to launder uniforms between shifts.
  • Continue to follow existing occupational health and safety requirements.
  • Businesses should encourage employees to self-monitor and use the ABTraceTogether App to help create a good tracing protocol across the province.
  • Returns are allowed. Cleaning and disinfecting hard-surfaced products before putting them back on the sales floor and storing surface items for a period of 24 hours prior to resale is suggested.
  • Use of fitting rooms is allowed. Encourage customers to sanitize hands before trying on clothes and surfaces of change rooms be cleaned and disinfected after use.
  • Reusable bags are permitted.
  • There is no longer a mandatory requirement to prepare or post operational plans and this is now voluntary for all businesses, but businesses are encouraged to update their policies and protocols as per provincial guidelines.
  • Guidance documents for all retail businesses can be found (here).

Physical Distancing Guidelines

  • The limit for outdoor gatherings has increased to 100 people.
  • The limit for indoor gatherings has increased to 50 people.
  • There is no cap on people attending worship services as long as physical distancing rules are in place.
  • Working remotely continues to be advised, where possible.
  • Place appropriate signage around all entries and throughout the business outlining policies and procedures including physical distancing expectations, hand hygiene, coughing and sneezing etiquette, and cleaning and disinfection practices.
  • Make hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol available at as many of the following locations as possible: entrances, exits, escalators, change rooms, and checkout counters for the public.
  • Consider restricting and directing customer flow into and within the business.
  • Consider limiting the number of patrons allowed in the business at any given time.
  • Support vulnerable populations with access to dedicated store hours, delivery or curb side pickup.
  • Encourage patrons to exit the business as quickly as possible following their purchase or completion of their visit.
  • Encourage curbside pickup for online purchases.
  • Physically distance cashiers from patrons or install physical barriers.
  • Create markers to indicate where shoppers should stand while waiting in line to maintain physical distance.
  • Clean and disinfect touch screens at self checkouts between patron use.
  • Space out cash counters and self-service checkouts, when possible.
  • Ensure gloves are available for workers handling cash.
  • Offer and encourage online or telephone orders with delivery or pick-up services as alternatives to in-person shopping.
  • Update return policies to prevent the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to workers, volunteers, and patrons (eg., eliminating the opportunity to return purchased goods, cleaning and disinfecting hard-surfaced, returned good prior to placing them back onto the sales floor, and storing soft-surface items for a period of 24 hours prior to resale).

Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan government has extended the provincial state of emergency until June 24.

Key Dates and Updates

  • May 4: The first phase of Saskatchewan’s five-phase reopening will begin (here); includes medical services and low-risk outdoor recreational activities
  • May 15: Golf courses reopen.
  • May 19: Retail stores and salon services will reopen (here).
  • June 1: Campgrounds will reopen.
  • June 8: Phase 2 will begin with retail stores, restaurants, beauty salons, and gyms reopening. Restaurants will be allowed to operate at half capacity and restrictions will also lift on some personal care services, child care centres, and places of worship.
  • June 22: The first half of the fourth stage of its reopening plan will begin. Youth and child day camps, outdoor pools, splash pads, and outdoor activities will resume.
    • The second half of the fourth stage will include the reopening of indoor pools, rinks, libraries, museums, galleries, movie theatres, and casinos. A date for the second half of stage four of the reopening plan has not yet been announced.
  • July 6: Saskatchewan moved to the second half of its phase 4.
    • Sports facilities and other entertainments spaces (including museums, galleries, and movie theatres) reopened.
    • Indoor pools, indoor rinks, casinos, bingo halls, racetracks, and rodeo-related activities also resumed.
    • VLTs, pool tables, dart boards, arcade games, and other recreation areas in restaurants also reopened.
    • Seating in restaurants is allowed to increase to a level that allows staff and customers to maintain two metres of physical distancing.
  • July 16: Live entertainment is expected to resume.

Workplace Safety Guidelines

  • Ensure enhanced sanitization schedule.
  • Ensure staff are practicing proper hand hygiene (e.g., washing hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds).
  • Ensure employee and public washrooms are always well-stocked with liquid soap and paper towels, and that running warm water is available.
  • Provide clean carry-out bags for purchased goods; customers should be encouraged not to use their own containers, reusable bags or boxes.
  • Customers should be encouraged to minimize touching merchandise.
  • Post signs indicating that no customer packaging is to be used or placed on checkout counters.
  • Place an alcohol-based hand sanitizer approved by Health Canada in dispensers or soap and water hand washing stations near doors, pay stations and other high-touch locations for customers and staffs. Make wipes and trash bins available for wiping down carts.
  • Glove use is not required. If using gloves, they should be changed after every interaction and when changing tasks.
  • Ask customers who arrive with cold, influenza or COVID-19 symptoms to return home and use delivery service.
  • All workers, especially those in constant contact with the public, should self-monitor for symptoms and use the online self-assessment tool (here).
  • Guidance document for clothing and retail guidelines can be found (here).

Physical Distancing Guidelines

  • The government has increased its gathering limit to 30 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.
  • Customers should be encouraged to minimize touching merchandise. Post signs requesting them to only touch items they intend to buy.
  • Discourage the use of change rooms. If they are being used, ensure the surfaces are cleaned and disinfected between each use. Only allow 50 per cent occupancy (keeping every other change room vacant) to space out customers.
  • Discourage the exchange or return of goods. If goods are returned, where possible, clean and disinfect all surfaces of the merchandise or if the items cannot be cleaned and disinfected, isolate goods in separate bin (labelled with return dare) for at least 72 hours before being returned to store shelves. Employees must wash their hands after handling.
  • Where items are kept behind counters and provided to customers to try on and handle, such as jewelry and electronics, customers should clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer approved by Health Canada prior to handling the items. They should also avoid placing the items on or near their faces.
  • Use physical line controls and markers (e.g., tapes or cones) every two metres as visible cues.
  • Make announcements at regular intervals over the store speaker reminding customers to remain two metres apart.
  • Post clear signs in multiple locations indicating the maximum number of customers and staff allowed in the store at one time.
  • Consider monitoring the number of customers and staff entering and exiting the store.
  • Offer and encourage online or telephone orders with delivery or pick-up services.

Manitoba

The Government has announced a multi-phase reopening plan (here).

Key Dates and Updates

  • May 4: Phase One will start, including retail businesses, salons, restaurants for patio or walk-up services only (here).
  • May 22: Phase One began.
  • June 1: Phase Two begins. This second phase will include expanding the types of businesses that can reopen including pools, spas, gyms, and bars with restaurants allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity. Personal services including nail salons, tattoo parlours, estheticians, and tanning salons are also allowed to reopen at half capacity.
  • June 21: The province’s third phase is expected to begin. Under the third phase, group sizes will be increased to 50 people at indoor gatherings and 100 people at outdoor gatherings. Capacity limits for child care centres, restaurants, and bars will also be lifted. Movie theatres and casinos remain closed.
  • July 13: The province announced that there will be no future phases of Manitoba's reopening plan. Instead, it will move to base future restrictions on the level of risk to public health. Restrictions are expected to fluctuate depending on the spread of the virus.

Workplace Safety Guidelines

  • Staff must use the self-screening tool before coming into work (here).
  • Employees must stay home when ill and customers are not allowed entry if they are ill with COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Hand sanitizer must be available at entrances and exits for public and staff use.
  • Washrooms must be sanitized frequently; must have a regime for business sanitization in place.
  • Staff must be given information about physical distancing; businesses must post external signs re: physical distancing protocols.
  • Customers are not allowed entry if they are ill with COVID-19 symptoms. Provide soap and water or hand sanitizer for customers entering the store.
  • Returns are currently allowed.
  • Use of fitting rooms allowed.
  • Reusable bags are permitted.

Physical Distancing Guidelines

  • Maintain occupancy levels to allow staff and customers to maintain physical distance of at least two metres, except for brief exchanges.
  • Floor markings must be apparent where service is provided or lines form.
  • Entry to business, including lines, must be regulated to prevent congestion.
  • Must maintain a single point of entry.
  • The limit on gatherings has been raised to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
  • Contactless/cashless payment should be used, where possible.

Ontario

All emergency public health orders have been extended to June 19. Government has unveiled guidelines that businesses will need to follow for gradual reopening.

Key Dates and Updates

  • April 30: The Government unveiled guidelines that businesses will need to follow to protect employees and customers as the province works towards gradual reopening. Retail guidance documents can be found here: (1) Cashiers (2) Retail Sector (3) Retail General Labour.
  • May 4: Select businesses may reopen, including garden centres and nurseries with curbside pick-up and delivery only, automatic and self-serve car washes, and auto dealerships, by appointment only.
  • May 8: Garden centres and nurseries can provide in-store payment and purchases, operating under the same guidelines as grocery stores and pharmacies.
  • May 9: Hardware stores and safety supply stores can provide in-store payment and purchases, operating under the same guidelines as grocery stores and pharmacies.
  • May 19: All retail stores with a street-front entrance (no indoor malls) will be allowed to open, with restrictions to enable physical distancing.
  • May 27: The provincial government announced that non-essential health care services, such as dentists, optometrists, massage therapists, chiropractors, physiotherapists, psychologists, dieticians, and denturists, can reopen as soon as they have safety guidelines in place. 
  • May 31: Drive-in movie theatres and batting cages can reopen.
  • June 12: The majority of regions in Ontario entered stage 2 of the province's reopening plan, with the exception of the Greater Toronto Area and a few other areas. The full list of regions that are permitted to enter stage 2 can be found (here).
    • Hair salons, barber shops, outdoor recreation facilities, and shopping malls are among businesses that are permitted to reopen in addition to restaurants for patio services. Other businesses that are permitted to reopen during stage 2 can be found (here).
    • Child care services and places of worship can also reopen with limited attendance and physical distancing rules in place.
  • June 19: All regions except for Toronto, Peel, and Windsor-Essex entered stage two of the province’s phased reopening plan. Hair salons, barber shops, swimming pools, outdoor recreation facilities, and malls are among the businesses that can reopen. Restaurants can also reopen for patio service. Toronto, Peel, and Windsor-Essex remain in stage 1 at this time.
    • Places of worship and child care centres across the province can also reopen with limited capacity and physical distancing rules in place.
  • June 24: Toronto, Peel, and most of Windsor-Essex joined the rest of the province in stage 2. The Toronto zoo has reopened, and the province is continuing to loosen some restrictions around indoor sports and fitness.
    • All indoor and outdoor swimming pools and outdoor splash pads and wading pools are permitted to reopen to the public, but with no access to high-contact aquatic features (eg., slides and climbing structures). Waterparks, wave pools, and water slides will not be permitted to reopen in stage 2.
    • Outdoor-only recreational facilities that operate low-contact attractions and activities will be allowed to reopen. This includes activities such as paintball, mini-golf, archery ranges, go-cart tracks, and other adventure activities.
    • Recreational activities or areas that do not allow for two-metre distancing between patrons are not permitted. 
    • Indoor recreational activities are not permitted except for indoor driving ranges and rod and gun clubs. 
    • Amusement parks, waterparks, playgrounds, play structures, and outdoor fitness equipment remain closed.
  • July 7: There is a temporary bylaw that will be in effect in Toronto making masks mandatory in public indoor settings.
  • July 7: Leamington and Kingsville regions joined the rest of the province in stage 2.
  • July 17: Some of the province are allowed to enter stage 3.
    • In this stage, nearly all businesses, including gyms, movie theatres, and indoor dining can reopen.
    • Fitness studios, casinos, playgrounds, community centres, and libraries can reopen.
    • Indoor gathering limits increase to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors, but still require physical distancing.
    • The Toronto area and a few other regions will not be entering stage 3 at this time. For a list of regions that will be allowed to move into stage 3, please visit this link.
  • July 24: Other regions of Ontario, except Toronto, Peel, and Windsor-Essex enter stage 3 with the rest of the province.
  • July 31: The Toronto and Peel regions will move into stage 3.

Workplace Safety Guidelines

  • Cashiers: Increase airflow from open doors and windows; increase cleaning frequency; keep up with good hand washing and avoid touching face; hand sanitizer should be used frequently where washing is not available; consider the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) (e.g., gloves and goggles or face shields).
  • Retail Sector: Train everyone on COVID-19 safety measures; provide hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for visitors to use when entering and on carts; provide a safe place for customers to dispose of used sanitizing wipes and PPE in parking lot; provide staff with hand sanitizer; have all employees and visitors wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer before entering, after contact with others, or with surfaces others have touched; sanitize the workplace thoroughly and often; sanitize surfaces and immediate area between each transaction if possible; screen workers regularly for health issues; introduce more fresh air by increasing ventilation system’s air intake or opening doors and windows; consider the use of PPE (e.g., gloves and goggles or face shields).
  • Retail General Labour: Use good hand washing techniques and avoid touching face; improve fresh air intake and air circulation with open doors and windows or fans; increase cleaning frequency; ensure all safety measures are communicated to staff; consider the use of PPE (e.g., gloves and goggles or face shields).
  • Returns are currently allowed.
  • Ontario recommends that customers who bring reusable bags to stores should pack the bags themselves.

Physical Distancing Guidelines

  • The province has increased its limit on public gatherings to 10 people indoors and outdoors.
  • Must restrict the number of customers in the store at one time by offering in-store by appointment and/or by limiting the number of people in the store at any one time. Retailers would need to restrict the number of customers per square metre – for example, one customer per 4 square metres – to ensure physical distancing of 2 metres at all times.
  • Only fitting rooms with doors would be used, not curtains, to facilitate disinfecting. Retailers would restrict use to every second fitting room at any one time to allow for cleaning after use and ensure physical distancing.
  • Cashiers: Encourage cashless payments; create potential barriers between cashiers and customers; everyone should maintain physical distance of at least two metres apart and control the number of customers in the store at a time; consider floor markings to show distance to be kept apart.
  • Retail Sector: Provide online ordering, delivery or curb side pick-up and eliminate at-door payment methods for deliveries; control how many customers enter at one time; manage traffic flow and physical distancing with measures (e.g., floor markings and barriers); consider ways to minimize contact with customers and maintain safe distance (at least 2 metres); consider minimizing or eliminating handling of cash; consider not accept reusable bags or containers; consider installing barriers between cashier and customer; consider ensuring customers use new bags only; limit the number of people working in one space; reschedule unnecessary visits to the workplace (e.g., by supply chain partners).
  • Retail General Labour: Integrate physical distancing in job activities; eliminate or minimize customer contact; control and limit the number of people in a workspace at one time.

Québec

The Government has announced a multi-phase reopening plan (French and English).

Key Dates and Updates

  • May 4 (outside Greater Montreal region) and May 25 (Greater Montreal Region): Retail stores having direct entrance access outside (including through a backdoor generally used for merchandise) and businesses which support the supply chain for retail businesses will be allowed to resume operations.
  • To date, the Government of Québec has not made any other announcement regarding malls, which will remain closed until further notice.
  • Retail stores, other than pharmacies, convenience stores and gas stations will remain closed to the public on Sundays at least during the month of May.
  • On Sundays, restaurants will be able to offer drive-thru and take-out orders and delivery, while grocery stores will only be able to offer online and phone orders and delivery.
  • May 22: Outside gatherings of up to 10 people of up to three different households are permitted. A two-metre distance must be maintained between people from different households.
  • June 1: Businesses outside of Montreal offering private health services and spas are permitted to reopen:
    • Oral care clinics and dental centres (all dental care);
    • businesses in the therapeutic care sector (eg., physiotherapy, osteopathy, occupational therapy, chiropractic, massage therapy, psychology, optometry, acupuncture, naturopathy, homeopathy, career counselling, social work, marital and family therapy, sexology, and other forms of therapy, nutrition, speech therapy and audiology, podiatry, other forms of alternative medicine, etc.);
    • Pet grooming; and
    • Businesses in the personal care and beauty sector (eg., hairdressing salons, barber shops, beauty centres, manicure and pedicure salons, hair removal services, skin care, tattooing, piercing, etc.).
  • June 1: For the Montreal region, only dental care, therapeutic care, and grooming for animals are permitted. 
  • June 1: Malls outside of the Greater Montreal Area can reopen, with physical distancing restrictions in place.
  • June 15: Hairdressers, tattoo parlours, and other personal care businesses are able to reopen in Montreal and Joliette.
  • June 15: Dining in restaurants and indoor and outdoor gatherings of under 10 people from a maximum of three different households are permitted in Quebec, except for the Montreal, Joliette, and L’Epiphanie regions. Bars are specifically excluded but cinemas and performance halls are permitted.
  • June 19: Shopping malls in the Greater Montreal and Joliette regions can reopen.
  • June 22: Dining in restaurants and indoor and outdoor gatherings of under 10 people from a maximum of three different households are permitted in the Montreal, Joliette, and L’Epiphanie regions.
  • June 22: Gatherings of up to 50 people indoors will be allowed, with a physical distance of 1.5 metres in places where people are not moving around freely or singing or speaking.
    • Physical distancing for children age 16 or less will be reduced to one metre but will be required to stay at least two metres apart from their adult caregivers or teachers.
  • July 13: In Montreal, masks are mandatory for all public transit users.

Workplace Safety Guidelines

  • Establishments will need to conform to sanitary measures decreed by the public health authorities and the CNESST (French and English), such as:
  • Screen employees and customers for symptoms of COVID-19 prior to entering the store (e.g., through a questionnaire); customers who present symptoms should be told to postpone their shopping and use alternative measures to purchase merchandise.
  • Remove non-essential items (e.g., magazines, newspapers) in common areas and disinfect tools used by customers for shopping (e.g., carts).
  • Inform customers, suppliers, subcontractors, and partners of the measures put in place to control risks (on a panel at the entrance of the store).
  • Returns are currently allowed.
  • The province recommends that customers bag their own items.

Physical Distancing Guidelines

  • Limit the number of customers and establish one-way traffic flow to preserve two-metre physical distance requirements.
  • Use signage (e.g., floor markings) to identify the two-metre physical distance near checkouts, at the entrance, and in fitting rooms.
  • Promote contactless payment and encourage customers to bag purchases themselves.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Key Dates and Updates

  • Retail stores, including those in shopping malls, can reopen with restrictions.
    • Guidance applicable to all workplaces, including retail establishments, can be found (here).
  • Personal service establishments, including spas, esthetic services, hair salons, body piercing, tattooing, and tanning salons can reopen in accordance with guidelines.
  • Restaurants can reopen at reduced occupancy but buffets remain prohibited.
  • June 25: The province is expected to move into "alert level 2" with the reopening of recreational facilities including gyms, arenas, yoga studios, indoor pools, and playgrounds. More health care services can resume, and bars, cinemas, churches, and bingo halls can reopen at reduced capacity.
  • July 3: Residents of the Atlantic provinces will form a "bubble" travel system in which people from each province can move freely between each other without having to self-isolate.
  • July 4: Provincial historic sites have reopened.

Workplace Safety Guidelines

  • Product sampling/testing is prohibited.
  • Provide an alcohol-based hand sanitizer near the entrance for customers and at the entrance to change rooms, escalators, stairways, and elevators. Signage should be posted at these areas asking customers to use sanitizer.
  • Increase cleaning and disinfection of commonly contacted areas, including escalator and stair handrails, elevator buttons, doors/doorknobs, handles, display racks, checkout areas, change rooms, keyboards, PIN pads, self-pay stations, bathroom surfaces, change room surfaces, and countertops.
  • Washrooms should be open to staff and the public, but increased cleaning and disinfection must take place. Ensure washrooms are always supplied with liquid soap and paper towels, and that warm running water is available. Contactless garbage bins should be available and emptied frequently.
  • Shopping carts should be sanitized in between individual use or make wipes and contactless garbage bins available for wiping down shopping carts and disposing of the wipes.
  • If the retail operations include rentals, disinfection of rented equipment/products must occur between all rentals.
  • If reusable bags are accepted at a retail store, the store should consider asking customers to pack the bags themselves.
  • Refrain from handing out tokens or placards to customers with the number or items to try on. Consider other options, such as writing the number of items on a whiteboard on the door.
  • Ask customers to leave unwanted clothing in a designated location, and refrain from returning these products to the display floor for 24 hours.
  • Employees picking up/handling donations should wear gloves and wash their hands after handling donations.
  • Items to be picked up for donation should be left outside so there is no contact between individuals.
  • Picking up large donations such as furniture is a business decision. The following measures are recommended, where the business chooses to do so:
    • Find alternate ways to retrieve the item without the employee entering the house. For example, have the donor place the item outside.
    • Employees should confirm that no one living in the house is ill or self-isolating before entering. If either is the case, they should not enter.
    • If the employee must enter the house, they should maintain a distance of two metres from other individuals, and wear gloves and a non-medical mask.
  • Where possible, launder donated/used clothing and dry on the hottest setting possible. Avoid shaking clothing before putting it in the washing machine. Alternatively, set aside clothing for at least 24 hours before putting it on display. For other items besides clothing, clean and disinfect all surfaces or isolate items in a separate bin for at least 72 hours before placing on store shelves/racks.
  • A detailed operational plan for COVID-19 is encouraged but not required. Retailers are required to show that they have workplace health and safety policies related to doing business in the COVID-pandemic in place and available for inspectors to review.
  • See Additional Guidance on Cleaning for more information.

Physical Distancing Guidelines

  • Groups of up to 20 people will be permitted, as long as they observe physical distancing.
  • Food court seating areas must operate at reduced capacity in order to allow for appropriate physical distancing.
  • All areas, including check-out counters, washrooms, change rooms, and employee common areas, should allow for physical distancing.
    • Stores may need to be re-arranged and customer flow managed to allow for physical distancing.
    • Place markers every two metres as visible cues to support physical distancing in check-out lines.
    • For large stores and shopping malls, place arrows to indicate one-directional traffic, where possible.
  • Post signage reminding customers and staff to:
    • Stay two metres apart from others;
    • Leave the premises, if they are symptomatic; and
    • Practice proper hygiene.
  • Set a maximum number of customers and staff allowed in a store at one time. A maximum of 50 per cent capacity is recommended.
  • Reduce capacity on elevators to allow for distancing. Escalators must be managed to maintain two metres between users.
  • Consider installing physical barriers if two metre spacing between employees cannot be maintained at checkouts.
  • Discontinue special events and promotions designed to draw large crowds.
  • Consider stopping or reducing stock shelving and product display arranging during operational hours. Where required during operating hours, consider closing aisles for the safety of employees.
  • Toy stores are permitted to open, but should avoid displays and access to toys that encourage in-store play.
  • See Physical Distancing for Businesses for additional information.

New Brunswick

Government loosened some physical distancing measures.

Key Dates and Updates

  • May 22: The province entered Phase 3 of its reopening plan, which is the final phase before the last phase of the plan, which will only be triggered when a vaccine is introduced. Phase 3 allows for the reopening of more businesses and the loosening of more restrictions on social activities.
    • Barbers, hairstylists, spas, estheticians, manicurists, pedicurists, tattoo artists, and other personal service businesses can resume in-person services as long as physical distancing measures are respected between appointments.
    • Non-regulated health professionals are also permitted to resume business.
  • May 27: The province partially rolled back its reopening plan in northern New Brunswick after a cluster of new cases emerged. Non-essential businesses that reopened have been shut again and activities that resumed have been ordered to stop in the Campbellton-Dalhousie region. Residents in this area are also urged to avoid contact outside of their "two-family bubble".
  • June 5: Additional restrictions are expected to be lifted. Gyms, yoga studios, dance studios, rinks, pool halls, bowling alleys, swimming pools, saunas, and waterparks will be allowed to reopen.
  • July 3: Residents of the Atlantic provinces will form a "bubble" travel system in which people from each province can move freely between each other without having to self-isolate.

Workplace Safety Guidelines

  • Adopt a passive or active screening process for staff and visitors before they enter the workplace, including signage and self-screening surveys.
  • Face coverings are mandatory as an additional measure to protect employees, clients, and visitors when workplaces are not able to ensure two metres of physical distancing.
  • Keep visitor and employee logs for access points and have rooms where physical distancing is not possible.
  • Promote frequent handwashing. Ensure handwashing stations have adequate soap and both handwashing stations and sanitizer are readily available.
  • Adopt rigorous cleaning procedures. Evaluate the workplace for shared objects and common areas. Increase the frequency of cleaning of touched surfaces/objects, such as door handles, handrails, ATMs, etc.
  • Inform staff on proper coughing/sneezing etiquette (into your sleeve or into a tissue and safely throwing out the tissue).
  • Provide necessary personal protective equipment and training on the proper use and maintenance of the equipment.
  • Ensure all employees are fully aware of the preventative measures, and there are clear guidelines and instructions as well as enforcement of the measures. Employees must know how to lower their risk and what to do if that risk is compromised.
  • Retailers must post signs on entrances that stop people from entering the business if they have symptoms of respiratory illness (eg., cough, fever, runny nose).
  • Returns are currently allowed.
  • Use of fitting rooms are allowed.
  • Reusable bags are permitted but not encouraged.

Physical Distancing Guidelines

  • Where possible, physically mark two-metre intervals.
  • People must wear face coverings in any building open to the general public. Children under the age of two years old, children in daycare, and people who cannot wear face coverings for medical reasons are exempt from this requirement.
  • A household "bubble" can be extended to "close friends and family" (with the Campbellton-Dalhousie region as a current exception).
  • Indoor gatherings are permitted but should be limited to no more than 10 people.
  • As of May 29, outdoor gatherings of 50 or fewer people are permitted with physical distancing in place.
  • Consider the installation of a physical barrier, if possible, such as a clear plastic guard, that may be used to protect workers from potential exposure.
  • Large public gatherings are prohibited through December 31, 2020, but this is subject to change.

Nova Scotia

Key Dates and Updates

  • May 20: The Province announced that Nova Scotia will reopen the economy all at once instead of in stages, which could happen in early June. In order for the province to reopen, the number of new COVID-19 cases caused by community transmission must drop to few or no cases for at least two weeks before an economic recovery plan is implemented.
  • June 5: On May 27, the government announced that Nova Scotia's economy can begin to reopen on June 5 if businesses follow public health protocol. Businesses that will be permitted to reopen include restaurants for dine-in services, bars, wineries, distilleries, gyms, yoga studios, and personal services such as hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, spas, and tattoo parlours.
  • June 26: All bars and restaurants are permitted to operate at full capacity and continue serving until midnight, provided physical distancing rules are followed. All public pools are now reopened, including lane swimming and Aquafit classes.
  • July 3: Residents of the Atlantic provinces will form a "bubble" travel system in which people from each province can move freely between each other without having to self-isolate.
    • Limits on gatherings organized by businesses or community organizations have been increased to 250 people outdoors and 200 people (with a maximum 50 per cent capacity) indoors, including weddings, funerals, cultural events, concerts, festivals, dance recitals, and faith-based gatherings.
    • These limits do not include family gatherings, which remain limited to 50 people with physical distancing measures in place.

Workplace Safety Guidelines

  • Stores must allow for two metres of physical distancing between individuals.
  • Consider physical barriers when physical distancing can’t be maintained.

Physical Distancing Guidelines

  • Recommendations include two metres of physical distancing between individuals, frequent hand washing/hand washing facilities, hand sanitizer (with a minimum of 60% alcohol), and enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of workplace (especially high-touch areas).
  • Retailers must post signs on entrances that stop people from entering the business if they have symptoms of respiratory illness (eg., cough, fever, runny nose).
  • Returns are currently allowed.
  • Use of fitting rooms is allowed.
  • Reusable bags are permitted but not encouraged.
  • All businesses must develop an Operational Plan. Businesses must be able to produce the plan if an inspector visits the business.

Prince Edward Island

The provincial government extended the public health emergency until June 14.

Key Dates and Updates

  • May 22: Phase 2 began with some retail businesses reopening.
    • Retail outlets, greenhouses, barber shops, hair salons, massage therapists, acupuncturists, pet groomers, car washes, pest control businesses, cleaning and restoration services, construction and repair services are permitted to reopen with physical distancing measures in place.
  • June 1: Phase 3 will begin and will allow gatherings of up to 15 people indoors and 20 people outdoors. Dine-in services at restaurants will also resume at this time.
    • Restaurants will be permitted to open for indoor dining with public health restrictions in place.
  • June 26: Phase 4 began, and gathering sizes increased to 50 people allowed for team sports and other small events (eg., weddings, funerals, and graduations). Casinos have also reopened and personal services have expanded to include facials, nose piercings, and teeth whitening.
  • July 3: Residents of the Atlantic provinces will form a "bubble" travel system in which people from each province can move freely between each other without having to self-isolate.

Workplace Safety Guidelines

  • Recommendations include two metres of physical distancing between individuals, frequent hand washing/hand washing facilities, hand sanitizer (with a minimum of 60% alcohol), and enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of workplace (especially high-touch areas).
  • Use of non-medical face masks by employees is recommended if physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Retailers must post signs on entrances that stop people from entering the business if they have symptoms of respiratory illness (eg., cough, fever, runny nose).
  • Prior to beginning work each day, every employee must sign and date the designated form with the following statement: “I declare by signing this sheet/form that I have not been outside of PEI within the last 13 days and am not required to self-isolate.”
  • Returns are currently allowed. Retailers are asked to consider quarantining returned items for 72 hours before placing them back on the sales floor.
  • Use of fitting rooms is allowed.
  • All businesses are required to complete an operational plan. Inspectors will be asking businesses to produce their plan during inspections.
  • Reusable bags are permitted but not encouraged.

Physical Distancing Guidelines

  • Stores must allow for two metres of physical distancing between individuals.
  • Consider physical barriers when physical distancing can’t be maintained.

Notes

Please note: This information is a general summary only and is not legal advice. The application of these guidelines to individual worksites and environments will differ so we advise you to please seek professional advice and guidance.

Please follow this link for more detail on McCarthy Tétrault's Retail and Consumer Markets Group

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