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 reopen. 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. As of February 8, 2021, all businesses can open and can sell all products (essential AND non-essential). More information

Due to the curfew, opening hours differ depending on the level of alert:
- In the red zone: 5 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (curfew from 8 p.m.)
- In the orange zone: 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. (curfew from 9:30 p.m.)

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.

As of February 26, cinemas can reopen everywhere in Quebec - (following the protocol in place).
All retailers are permitted to open. Retailers must have an operational plan. All retailers are permitted to open. Retailers must have an operational plan. All retailers allowed to open. Retailers must have an operational plan. Beginning February 27, 2021, most of the province (except Avalon region) is at Alert Level 4. Retailers (including those in shopping malls) can be open at 50% capacity. Personal service establishments, including spas and hair salons can open in accordance with guidelines. Cinemas are closed and restaurants remain closed for in-person dining.

Avalon region (St. John’s area) remains at Alert Level 5 meaning only retailers considered essential are allowed to be open to in-store customers. All other retailers in this region can offer curbside pickup and delivery.

The list of retail products that the government considers ‘essential’ is: food, pharmaceutical products, medicine and medical devices, personal hygiene products, cleaning products, baby and child products, gas stations, computer and cellphone service and repair, electronic and office supplies, hardware supplies, and pet and animal supplies.

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 25% 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 February 5, retailers across the province must limit their in-store capacity to 75% of the business occupancy code. This rule includes the retail floor space (including fixtures and floor displays) but does not include offices, exits, etc. The general rule for a one storey retail establishment = 1 person per 3.7 square meters (40 square feet) X 0.50.
- See restrictions alerts by county
- See restrictions updates
Stores must allow for 2 metres of physical distancing between individuals. As of January 23, 2021 at 8am, retail stores will be allowed to operate at capacity providing physical distancing and other public health measures can be maintained. As of February 27, 2021, all retailers (except those in the Avalon region) will work under Alert Level 4 and can be open at 50% capacity. 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 workers, procedure masks and eye protection are required in situations where 2 metres physical distancing cannot be maintained. View more information

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. View provincial guidance. 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 “Should we continue to sell bulk items 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
- Provincial Health Order on restaurants, coffee shops, cafes, cafeterias and licensed premises
- Retail stores
- Food and grocery stores
- Pharmacies
- Simplified cleaning and disinfecting guidelines
- WorkSafeBC are here and here
- 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)
- Delivery/Curbside
- 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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