COVID-19 Requirements for Retailers by Region

RCC has assembled an interactive chart of regulations and health and safety guidelines for retailers who are reopening or continuing to open during COVID-19.

Information includes:

  • Maximum number of people in store/ physical distancing requirements
  • Personal Protective Equipment required
  • Any rules in place for customer or employee screening
  • Rules in place for returns, fitting rooms, bagging and bulk bins

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Opening/Health and safety requirements by region

wdt_ID Requirements British Columbia Alberta Saskatchewan Manitoba Ontario Quebec Nova Scotia New Brunswick PEI Nfld & Lab Nunavut NWT Yukon
2 Retailers considered "essential"/ allowed to open Retailers are only permitted to be open if they follow the provisions in Provincial Health Officer’s Gathering Order with respect to retail (section “L”, pages 20-1). All businesses must also follow the Provincial Health Officer’s Order on Workplace Safety. All retailers are permitted to open, but must lower their store capacity. All retailers are permitted to open. As of January 23, 2021, all retail stores across the province are permitted to open. Ontario has transitioned to a colour code framework, by region, which allows all retailers to remain open (with restricted capacity) in colours green, yellow, orange, red and grey. Ontario's "shutdown" category sees only grocery, pharmacy and gas stations, discount and big box retailers selling groceries, stores that sell liquor, wine or beer open. View more information on Ontario-wide shutdown. Yellow, orange and red zones:
All businesses can open and can sell all products (including essential AND non-essential).

Curfew/opening hours differ depending on the level of alert:
- In the special measures zone and on the Island of Montréal and Laval : 5am to 7:30pm (curfew from 8pm).
- In the orange and red zones (except of Montréal and Laval): 5am to 9pm (curfew from 9:30pm).
- No curfew in the yellow zone.

Employees required to circulate during the curfew period must have a letter attesting to their employer status (we strongly suggest that you use the government-designed template in French available online). Only convenience stores selling gasoline and drug stores can remain open during curfew to sell only "essential" products; alcohol, tobacco and lottery sales are prohibited after curfew.

For restaurants, only take-out orders and deliveries are allowed in the red zone. In the orange zone, the dining rooms can reopen, but can accommodate a maximum of two adults per table. Adults may be accompanied by their minor children. With the exception of fast food, reservation will be required. Restaurants will need to keep a register of their customers and customers will need to show proof of residence in the area where the restaurant is located. The same criteria for restaurants apply in the yellow zone, except that there is no limit of adults per table, but these can only come from 2 addresses.

Special emergency measures zones:
The Quebec city area, Chaudière-Appalaches and Outaouais regions will be a “special emergency measures zone” from April 1, 2021 at 8pm to April 25, 2021, meaning that for this area: Non-essential" businesses will close (grocery stores and other food retail, big box stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, pet stores and convenience stores will remain open). Only the sale of "essential" products will be permitted. No list is provided, but the following are expected to be excluded: toys, clothing, books, electronics, decorative items, kitchen items and appliances. Schools, hair salons, dining rooms, cinemas, gyms, etc. will be closed. Curfew in these cities will be rolled back to 8 p.m. (business to be closed at 7:30 p.m. at the latest). Online or telephone purchases and delivery remain permitted. Businesses will be able to allow the collection of goods, provided it is carried out outside. Only traffic areas will be open in shopping centres to ensure access to businesses that are not affected by the closures.
All retailers are permitted to open. Retailers must have an operational plan. All retailers are permitted to open except in Zone 4 (Edmundston area). Parts of this area are in Lockdown while other parts of the Zone are in the Red level protocol.

All Retailers must have an operational plan.
All retailers are permitted to open. All retailers are permitted to open. A detailed operational plan for COVID-19 is encouraged but not required. Non-essential businesses in Arviat must remain closed until further notice. Non-essential businesses in other communities may be open subject to physical distancing requirements. All retailers are permitted to open. All retailers are permitted to open.
6 Maximum number of people in store/ physical distancing requirements 2 metre physical distance between any 2 people is required at all times. 1 person (employees and customers) per 5 square metres of open retail space (deduct fixtures and displays from the retail space before making the calculation): required for all retailers. For stores with less than five square metres of unencumbered space, the maximum number of patrons who can be accommodated safely is one, and this number must be documented in the retailer’s COVID-19 safety plan.

The store occupancy figure must be included in the COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan. Best practice is to post the occupancy figure visibly near the entrance. Many businesses use the poster provided by WorkSafeBC.
Retail stores across the province (all regions) are required to lower their store capacity to 15% (not including employees) of Alberta’s fire code allowance. See more information and capacity calculator.

Stores must allow for maintenance of 2 metre physical distancing between all customers and employees.
Large retail locations 20,000 square feet and larger are required to limit customer access to 25% capacity, based on the store’s fire code permit. Smaller stores may operate at 50% capacity. Capacity calculations do not need to include staff members, as long as appropriate physical distancing can be maintained. More information Stores must allow for maintenance of 2 metre physical distancing between all customers and employees. Regions that are designated as being in the Critical (Red) zone must reduce occupants in the store 50% of the occupancy permit (excluding staff) to a maximum of 250. Capacity varies by store type and by region, depending on the Ontario COVID-19 colour code framework the region is in. RCC encourages retailers to see our capacity calculator, or our table showcasing capacity by colour code. The maximum number of people in-store (not including employees) must be equal to Floor area in m2 accessible to customers ÷ 20 m2. The store’s reception capacity must be clearly and visibly displayed. More information As of April 7, retailers must follow their operational plans and stores must allow for 2 metres of physical distancing between individuals. For more details, please see the Nova Scotia government’s press release. Stores must allow for 2 metres of physical distancing between individuals. As of March 13, 2021, retail stores are no longer required to adhere to specific in-store customer capacity percentages, but should ensure physical distancing and other public health measures are maintained. As of March 27, the entire province has moved to Alert Level 2. Retailers must operate at a reduced capacity and maintain physical distancing but are not beholden to a certain occupancy percentage. For smaller businesses that cannot maintain physical distancing of at least 2 metres between persons, a maximum of 5 customers are allowed on premises at a time. Otherwise, 2 metres physical distance is required. Small retailers should restrict the number of customers to less than 10 at a time, or the number of people who can occupy the space while maintaining a two metre distance between them – whichever is less. For larger retailers, 2 metres distance between persons. Stores must allow for 2 metres of physical distancing between individuals.
7 Personal Protective Equipment required Masks are required in all public indoor settings and workplaces, including retail stores and coffee shops. It can be useful to post the WorkSafeBC “masks required” poster.

Store owners must make hand sanitization options readily available for customers. This can include spraying hand sanitizer on the hands of customers entering, or, providing hand sanitizer in places accessible to consumers.
Non-medical masks or face coverings are required in most regions. View Mask Requirements for more information. Business should also take precautions including: Posting signs about physical distancing, regulating store capacity to allow for physical distancing, enhance cleaning and sanitization as well as ensuring employees have access to hand sanitizer. Mandatory masks are required to be worn in all retail stores. Businesses must also adhere to additional precautions including: Posting signs about physical distancing, regulating store capacity to allow for physical distancing, enhance cleaning and sanitization as well as ensuring employees have access to hand sanitizer. Mandatory masks must be worn in all retail stores. Business should also take precautions including posting signage about physical distancing, monitor store capacity limits, limits are maintained enhance cleaning and sanitization protocols as well as ensure both customers and employees have access to hand sanitizer. Currently stores must maintain a single point of entry. Nearly all regions have face covering requirements that vary by Public Health Unit. View Mask Requirements for more information. Non-medical masks or face coverings are required for customers inside most indoor public places including retail stores and shopping centres. View Mask Requirements for more information.

For all employees, procedural masks or certified masks are mandatory at all times for all indoor work. For work outdoors, wearing a mask at all times is required if interactions within 2 meters with co-workers are unavoidable. When workers must perform tasks without respecting social distancing or the presence of a physical barrier, ocular protection is also required. View information on EPI requirements (French only).

Among others, wearing the mask continuously does not apply if the person works alone in a cabin or a closed room (examples: an office with walls and a door, a truck, a cabin), when eating and drinking (for example during meals and breaks), or for health reasons (for example a person with asthma) or safety (for example the presence of fog obstructing the view when driving a vehicle or operating machinery)
As of December 2020, it is possible for employers to provide certified reusable masks to employees who are unable to maintain social distancing. View information on certification standards.
Non-medical masks or face coverings are required inside most indoor public places including retail stores and shopping centres. View Mask Requirements for more information. Recommendations include 2 metre physical distancing, frequent hand washing / hand washing facilities, hand sanitizer (min of 60% alcohol), enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of workplace - especially high touch areas. Consider physical barriers when physical distancing can't be maintained.

It is recommended that all Nova Scotians wear a non-medical mask in situations where distancing may not be able to be kept.
Face masks are required in indoor public spaces. In Red level and Lockdown Zones: Everyone must wear a face mask. There are no exceptions - even with a medical note. In other zones: Exemptions include for children under 2 years of age, people with medical conditions which prevent them from wearing a mask, and when people are eating or drinking.

Retailers are expected to make best efforts in enforcing the mask requirements but they are not expected to ask for a medical note if a customer states that they are exempt from wearing a mask for medical reasons. In store signage is recommended and examples can be found here.
Non-medical masks are required in all indoor public spaces. View mask requirements and exemptions. Recommendations include 2 metre physical distancing, frequent hand washing / hand washing facilities, hand sanitizer (min of 60% alcohol), enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of workplace - especially high touch areas. Consider physical barriers when physical distancing can't be maintained. Non-medical masks or face coverings are required inside most indoor public places including retail stores and shopping centres. View Mask Requirements for more information. Recommendations also include 2 metre physical distancing, frequent hand washing / hand washing facilities, hand sanitizer (min of 60% alcohol), enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of workplace - especially high touch areas. Consider physical barriers when physical distancing can't be maintained. Masks are mandatory in all communities with COVID-19 cases. Place alcohol-based hand cleaners at entrances for use by customers. Masks are required in all indoor public spaces, including retail, beginning December 1. It is recommended that hand sanitizer is provided.
8 Employee screening Employers must screen workers for signs of COVID-19 prior to entry into the workplace. Employees who are ill must be sent home. Encourage employees to self monitor as well as utilize the ABTraceTogether App to help create a good tracing protocol across the province. All workers, especially those in constant contact with the public should self -monitor for symptoms and use the self-assessment tool. Staff must use the self-screening tool before coming into work. Go to self-screening tool and stay home if feeling ill. Employee Screening is required in Ontario. Quebec recommends screening employees regularly for health issues. As of February, Public Health has implemented a screening protocol using the use of rapid tests in companies to reduce the risk of outbreaks - it is a voluntary measure. The province has released advice on what to do if an employee tests positive for COVID-19. In Red level and Lockdown Zones, an accurate record must be created daily and maintained for 28 days of every employee or contractor entering a workplace. Employees and contractors must also be actively screened to ensure they do not have COVID-19 symptoms, have not traveled outside of New Brunswick, etc. More information

For all other areas of the province, you must determine if your workplace must implement a passive or active screening process. For more information on active screening, see page 11 of the Embracing the New Normal guide.

Keep records of visitor and employee log (with confirmation those individuals were actually screened), as well as orientation, training and inspections. NOTE: This is for employees and any visitors. It is not for customers. View more information.
Employee Self Monitoring. See Operational Plan Template. 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 14 days and am not required to self-isolate.”
Employers should have plans in place for increased worker absences due to illness or self-isolation requirements and all businesses should have a workplace illness policy. See provincial guidance Send employees home immediately if they have a fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat. If an employee is experiencing COVID-19 type symptoms, they should call 811 for information on assessment and be assessed by a health professional before returning to work. A guide for employees experiencing COVID-19 symptoms is available with guidance on when to stay home from work.
9 Customer screening 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. Customers are not allowed entry if they are ill with COVID-19 Symptoms Customers are not allowed entry if they are ill with COVID-19 symptoms 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 Passive customer screening is required province-wide for retailers. In addition, active screening is required for all malls in Ontario. Retailers in Hamilton are required to actively screen at store entrances. The province recommends screening customers at the entrance. Each retailer must have an operational plan. In Red level and Lockdown Zones, customers must be actively screened to ensure they do not have COVID-19 symptoms, have not traveled outside of New Brunswick, etc. More information

For all other areas of the province, each retailer must have an operational plan. Details related to customer screening in NB depend on the COVID-19 level in each zone.
Each retailer must have an operational plan. No specific guidance for customer screening. View General Guidance For Retail Establishments. Post signs on entrances that stop people from entering the business if they have symptoms of respiratory illness (cough, fever, runny nose). Put a sign on business' front door or window asking people not to come in if:
- they’ve travelled outside Yukon in the past 14 days;
- they’re sick; or
- if they’ve been in contact with someone who is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
10 Returns Returns are currently allowed. Washing hands or using hand sanitizer after handling returns is recommended. Returns are currently allowed. Suggest cleaning and disinfecting hard-surfaced products before putting them back on the sales floor and storing soft surface items for a period of 24 hours prior to resale. Returns are currently allowed. Apparel must now be quarantined for 24 hours before returned for resale. (This was reduced from the original 72 hours.) Returns are currently allowed. Returns are currently allowed. Returns are currently allowed. Returns are currently allowed. Returns are currently allowed. Returns are currently allowed. Retailers are asked to consider quarantining returned items for 72 hours before placing them back on the sales floor. Returns are currently allowed. Returns are currently allowed. No guidance has been indicated. Returns are currently allowed. No guidance has been indicated. Returns are currently allowed. No guidance has been indicated.
11 Fitting rooms Use of fitting rooms permitted:
- Where the fitting room does 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 are also recommended.
Use of fitting rooms allowed.

Encourage customers to sanitize hands before trying on clothing and surfaces of changerooms be cleaned and disinfected after use.
Use of fitting rooms allowed.

Change rooms can be used at 100%, but must be cleaned and disinfected after each use.
Use of fitting rooms allowed. Use of fitting rooms allowed. Retailers are required to restrict use to every second fitting room to allow for cleaning after use and ensure physical distancing. Quebec has no guidance on fitting rooms. Use of fitting rooms allowed. Use of fitting rooms allowed. Use of fitting rooms allowed. Use of fitting rooms allowed. No guidance provided on fitting rooms. No guidance provided on fitting rooms. No guidance provided on fitting rooms.
12 Reusable bags/ bagging Reusable bags are permitted. 

Best practice is to post signage asking customers to wash reusable bags regularly.  Local
shopping bag bylaws must be observed.
Reusable bags are permitted. Reusable bags are permitted but discouraged. Reusable bags are permitted, but customers must self-bag their items. Ontario recommends that customers who bring reusable bags to store should pack bags themselves.

Ontario's guidance says "Consider ways to minimize contact with customers and maintain a safe distance while handling goods and taking payment that may include not accepting re-usable bags or containers that are to be handled by your staff."
The province has recommended customers bag their own items. A company can, however, choose to offer packing or bagging services using reusable bags in accordance with the hygiene measures in place for the on-site employees. Likewise, reusable containers may be brought in by consumers and handled by employees, as long as employees wash their hands after handling containers belonging to consumers. Reusable bags are permitted. Reusable bags are permitted. Reusable bags are permitted. Reusable bags are permitted.
13 Bulk bins Current guidance for bulk bins is on the BC Centre for Disease Control food business page under the “Bulk items and consumer self-service food and beverage” tab. Their guidance is to provide hand washing or sanitization near bulk foods; post signs about hand hygiene and physical distancing measures; and, implement a frequent cleaning of the station (handles) and utensils used at the station. Self-service gravity-fed bins are allowed as long as they are frequently cleaned and disinfected. Ready-to-eat food (such as soup counters, olive bars, beverage stations) will also be permitted as long as retailers and consumers adhere to strict guidelines. Guidelines state that retailers cannot sell bulk items, except via gravity feed bins, or where staff dispense the bulk items. If used, gravity feed bins should be supervised and wiped down between use. The province’s updated grocery store guidelines allow for the reopening of some self-serve bulk services including bulk bakery items, gravity fed food bins, and clarification that customers may self-fill beverages. Frequent cleaning and sanitizing by employees is required. No province-wide guidance on bulk bins.

Some local Public Health Units have banned bulk bin usage. Please check with your local area regarding bulk bins.
Bulk bins are allowed but discouraged. Retailers are currently authorized to prepackage foods from bulk containers in order to limit handling by the public, without labeling them as long as the packaging is located near the original containers so that customers can take note of the necessary information (name, list of ingredients, price / weight or volume), until the sanitary situation is restored. Bulk bins are allowed. As part of their COVID-19 operational plans, retailers must have protocols that will be implemented to ensure that self-serve can be done safely. Bulk bins are allowed. As part of their COVID-19 operational plans, retailers must have protocols that will be implemented to ensure that self-serve can be done safely. Bulk bins are allowed. As part of their COVID-19 operational plans, retailers must have protocols that will be implemented to ensure that self-serve can be done safely. Bulk bins are allowed. See NL's Guidance for Retail Establishments for more information.
14 Guidance documents - Provincial Health Order
- Order on Workplace Safety
- Order on food and liquor-serving premises and liquor-selling premises
- Retail stores
- Food and grocery stores
- Pharmacies
- Simplified cleaning and disinfecting guidelines
- WorkSafeBC
- Reopening WorkSafeBC guidance for personal services businesses
- All Retail Stores
- Grocery Guidance
- Garden Centres
- Clothing and Other Retail
- SK Grocery
- Grocery Store Guidance
- Retail Stores (Non Grocery)
- Food Retail
- General Retail
- INSPQ - Hiérarchie des mesures de contrôle en milieu de travail (French only)
- INSPQ - Commerces (INSPQ)
- CNESST - Toolkit for the Retail and Shopping Centre Sector
- CNESST - Q&A
- MAPAQ Q&A
- Provincial information about staying safe
- Nova Scotia Restriction Alerts by County
- Red level and Lockdown Zone information
- Lockdown measures information
- New Brunswick reopening guidelines and operational template
- Collection of names and contact information
- Guidance For Retail Establishments
- COVID-19 Operational Plan template
- Renew PEI Together plan for reopening the economy
- Guidance For Retail Establishments
- Explanation of Alert Levels and steps to reopening of the economy
- Guidance For Retail Establishments
- Cosmetics testing
- Emerging Wisely – Path to Eased Public Health Restrictions Guide for employees experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
Requirements

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