Alberta | Labour | Store Operations | Store Operations | Supply Chain & Logistics

Alberta: Is my retail business an “essential service”?

March 27, 2020

The Government of Alberta has imposed immediate restrictions on the types of businesses that may continue to operate in the province, as part of its stepped-up effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.  

While stores determined to be “non-essential” will be unable to provide public-facing services, the directive allows for retailers to sell online, as well as offer pick-up or delivery services through a store or warehouse location.

The Retail Council of Canada has been working with the Alberta Government for many days now in an effort to proactively ensure this broader definition of “essential services”, given the evolving requirements of consumers living under COVID-19 restrictions. 

Government of Alberta’s list of Essential Services

Non-essential retail services by Alberta’s definition include:

  • Gift and specialty stores
  • Jewellery & accessories
  • Non-essential health and beauty care
  • Luggage
  • Art and framing
  • Men’s, ladies’ and children’s wear
  • Shoes
  • Bridal
  • Gaming equipment
  • Hobby & toy
  • Furniture
  • Photo, music and books
  • Sporting goods

Definitions of essential retail business services:

The following are considered “essential businesses”:

  • Businesses engaged in the retail and wholesale sale of food, pet food and supplies, and household consumer products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences and businesses, including grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, markets and other similar retailers
  • Businesses that provide essential items for the health and welfare of animals, including feed, animal food, pet food and animal supplies, including bedding
  • AGLC, beer, wine and liquor stores and alcohol producers, and stores that sell beer and wine through arrangements with authorized providers; vaping stores; cannabis producers
  • Gas stations, diesel, propane and heating fuel providers including providers of motor vehicle, aircraft and water/marine craft fuels
  • Motor vehicle, auto-supply, auto and motor-vehicle-repair, including bicycle repair, aircraft repair, heavy equipment repair, watercraft/marine craft repairs, car and truck dealerships and related facilities
  • Hardware stores and stores that provide hardware products necessary to the essential operations of residences and businesses
  • Business providing pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical services, including pharmacies and dispensaries
  • Businesses that supply office products and services, including providing computer products and related repair and maintenance services, for individuals working from home and for essential businesses
  • Safety supply stores (safety gear and Personal Protective Equipment)
  • Businesses that supply and deliver remote or online ordering

Physical Distancing Rules:

The province has also imposed a 15-person “mass gathering” limit, however it does not apply to retail, including grocery stores, shopping stores and standalone locations, as long a facility still follows appropriate risk mitigation strategies.  Further, operating public-facing services must also continue to maintain two metre physical distancing protocols.

The Alberta Government has committed to continue to review this list, and it would be expected to be refined as they determine necessary in the weeks ahead.

Should you have questions regarding this announcement, please contact:

John Graham
Director, Government Relations
[email protected]

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