Mask or face covering requirements affecting retailers

As restrictions loosen, various jurisdictions are removing some of the previously mandated requirements on the use of masks or face coverings. RCC has summarized where masks continue to be required.

Notes (applying to most regions)

Face Shields: Unless otherwise indicated, face shields do not meet the requirement as masks or face coverings. Individuals are able to wear a face shield in addition to a mask if they wish.

Warehouses/Head Offices: The requirements generally apply to all businesses who interact with the public (e.g. retail stores, shopping malls) and not to commercial buildings without public access such as warehouses or head offices. Please check your local area to see if requirements apply to non-public building (such as in Quebec).

Exemptions: Each by-law/health order contains exemptions for individuals who are unable to wear a face covering for medical or age reasons, as well as other reasonable accommodations. Retailers are not required to ask for a doctor’s note or proof of exemption. See individual by-laws in your region for specifics.

Mask requirements by region

Effective date: August 25, 2021

Masks are required for everyone in all public indoor settings and workplaces, including retail stores and coffee shops. Stores should require employees and customers to wear masks while remaining cognizant of the duty to accommodate. A customer can be refused entry or service if they refuse to wear a mask (subject also to the duty to accommodate). People who cannot wear a mask, who cannot put on or remove a mask on their own, and those under the age of 5 are exempt.

Effective date: September 4, 2021

Mandatory masks are once again required for all indoor public places, including retail stores and malls.

View Guidelines.

Effective date: September 17, 2021

A province-wide mandatory masking order was put in place for all indoor public places, including retail.     

View Guidelines.

Effective date: August 28, 2021

As of Saturday, August 28, 2021, mandatory masks are once again be required for all indoor settings, including retail stores.

View Guidelines.

For Retail Stores:

Ontario requires the use of a face covering (non-medical mask, such as a cloth mask) in public indoor spaces and wherever physical distancing is a challenge. This includes public indoor retail spaces. Retail settings inaccessible to the public (backrooms, etc.) follow the workplace guidelines, wherein the use of a face covering is required in scenarios where a physical distance of at least 2 metres cannot be maintained.

There are exemptions to Ontario’s face covering rules for children under two, based on a medical exemption, or for persons who are being reasonably accommodated under the Human Rights Code or under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005.

For Workplaces:

You do not need to wear a face covering when you are working in an area that allows you to maintain a distance of at least 2 metres from anyone else while you are indoors. In scenarios were physical distancing cannot be maintained, a mask is required. An example: you do not need a mask if at a physically distanced desk, but should wear a mask while roaming office hallways.

Effective date: July 18, 2020

Wearing a mask or face covering that covers the nose and mouth is mandatory in enclosed or partially enclosed public places for people age 10 and over (exception for medical conditions). Retailers must ensure that customers without masks may not enter the premise (unless exempt from masks all together). Fines can go up to $6000. As of September 12, 2020, consumers can also be fined directly by authorities for refusing to comply with sanitary measures including wearing a mask or face covering.

All employees in the red and orange zones must wear a procedure mask and eye protection. In the yellow and green zone, wearing eye protection is optional and wearing a mask is optional if social distancing can be respected at all times (2 meters outdoors, 1 meter indoors) OR if a physical barrier (plexiglass) is present. As of December 2020, it is possible for employers to provide certified reusable masks to employees who are unable to maintain social distancing. More information available on certification standards via the Bureau de la normalisation du Quebec.

More information is available from CNESST on the PPE required for each of the alert level colours.

View Guidelines.

Reinstated on December 5, 2021

Face masks are required in all indoor settings and all outdoor settings where 2 metres of physical distancing cannot be maintained. See Winter Action Plan.

Please note that while businesses and organizations are not required to request written proof of exemption for individuals who state they are exempt from wearing masks in public indoor spaces, they hold the right to do so. Read more here.

Retailers must continue to follow their COVID-19 Operational Plans.

Details.

Effective date: July 30, 2020

  • Face masks are required in all indoor settings and all outdoor settings where 2 metres of physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Exemptions include people with valid medical reason (retailers are not required to ask for proof), children under two, and children up to four if children will not co-operate with putting mask on.
  • A business or government official can ask you to remove your mask for identification purposes (you can remove it momentarily for this reason).

    Retailers must continue to follow their COVID-19 Operational Plans.

Details.

Reinstated September 17, 2021

Non-medical masks are mandatory for all indoor public places. Exemptions include children under 2, as well as those with valid medical reasons or disabilities that make it challenging to wear a facial covering.

Retailers must continue to follow their COVID-19 Operational Plans.

Details.

Reinstated September 17, 2021

Non-medical masks are mandatory for all indoor public places. Exemptions include children under 2, as well as those with valid medical reasons or disabilities that make it challenging to wear a facial covering.

Retailers must continue to follow their COVID-19 Operational Plans.

Details.

Non-medical masks are required in all indoor public spaces, including shopping centres, service businesses such as mechanics or cleaners and personal care services such as hair salons. Children under the age of 2 and those who cannot wear a mask for a medical reason will be exempt.

View guidelines.

Masks are mandatory in indoor public places..

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