As COVID-19-related restrictions continue to be removed, Retail Council of Canada is committed to supporting the retail community in another transitionary time. Below, find each province’s current approach to reopening, and what that means for retail stores in your area.
B.C.’s Restart is a careful, four-step plan to bring B.C. back together and lift COVID restrictions.
Step 1 began on May 25, 2021. Step 2 began on June 15, 2021. Step 3 began on July 1, 2021. Step 4 will begin when vaccination rates are sufficiently high and daily case counts and hospitalizations are low.
As of September 13, 2021, B.C. has instituted a vaccination passport system.
Current phase: Step 3
A mask mandate has been reimposed for indoor public spaces. There will be a requirement until at least October 31, 2021 for British Columbians to wear masks in prescribed spaces which include retail stores, malls, service businesses, hotels, gyms and fitness facilities, and public transportation.
British Columbians look forward to welcoming vaccinated Canadians from other provinces. Travel is not recommended for unvaccinated Canadians. Similarly: COVID-19 safety plans; employee screening; customer screening; hand sanitization; physical distancing measures including signage, arrows and plexiglass; are now all recommended but discretionary. Employers are encouraged to maintain good hand sanitization, general sanitation and physical distancing measures.
Temporary COVID-19 occupancy requirements ended on July 1, 2021. Occupancy is now at the discretion of a business. Similarly, requirements regarding break rooms and offices have been removed. Employers are encourage to maintain safety requirements where practicable.
The following COVID-19-related restrictions remain:
A maximum of 50 people or up to 50% of a venue’s total capacity are permitted for seated indoor organized gatherings (movie theatres, live theatre, banquet halls), whichever is greater. These must operate under a ‘communicable disease prevention plan.’
Singing and dancing, particularly in indoor spaces, remains restricted.
The Interior Health Region, Northern Health Region, and Fraser East health service delivery area (which includes Abbotsford, Agassiz/Kent, Chilliwack, Hope and Mission) are subject to additional regional restrictions concerning gathering limits and events.
Workplaces in Interior Health or Northern Health that hold meetings or events inside in these regions are reminded that indoor organized events can have a capacity of 50 people or 50% of the venue’s capacity, whichever is greater, with proof of full vaccination. Indoor organized events of less than 50 people do not require proof of vaccination, but contact information (name and phone number) of all attendees must be collected and kept for 30 days, along with adherence to safety plans.
For the Fraser East health service delivery area (Abbotsford, Agassiz/Kent, Chilliwack, Hope and Mission), as of September 28, indoor organized events are limited to 10 people unless all attendees are fully vaccinated. While attendees of events that require proof of vaccination in BC are currently only required to have their first vaccine dose until October 24, in Fraser East this deadline has been moved up to September 28.
Workplaces in all regions are also advised to ensure their safety plans are comprehensive and up-to-date, wearing masks in indoor workplaces is required.
Criteria for next phase:
- At least 70% of the 18+ population vaccinated with dose 1 (already achieved)
- Low case counts and low COVID-19 hospitalizations
For more information, read B.C’s Restart Plan
Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen is a three-step plan to safely and cautiously reopen the province and gradually lift public health measures.
Step 3 began on July 16, 2021.
As of September 22, 2021, Ontario has instituted a proof of vaccination system for select settings.
Current phase: Step 3
Step 3 will allow more indoor and outdoor activities to resume with smaller, well-managed crowds where risk of transmission is minimized, and will permit retail, all with restrictions in place. This includes but is not limited to:
- Essential and non-essential retail open with capacity limited to permit physical distancing of 2 metres
- Outdoor gatherings up to 100 people
- Indoor gatherings up to 25 people
- Indoor dining with no limits to the number of patrons per table
Note that store capacity limits in stores only apply to customers/members of the public. Employees/contractors in store do not count towards limits. More details, including a capacity calculator, are available here.
The province will remain in Step 3 until:
- at least 21 days have passed;
- 80% of the eligible population aged 12 and over has received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine;
- 75% have received their second dose;
- And, no public health unit having less than 70% of their eligible population aged 12 and over fully vaccinated.
For more information, read Ontario’s reopening plan
Alberta’s Open for Summer plan is a 3-stage outline to gradually easing COVID restrictions.
Alberta has reinstated public health measures as of September 20, 2021. Learn more.
Alberta announced a number of new province-wide measures that came into effect on September 20, 2021, including the reduction of retail capacity to 33% of fire code or, for smaller stores, a floor capacity of 5 customers.
Retailers must also remind customers about the mandatory mask requirement, as outlined in the primary health order.
- Retail, entertainment and recreation facilities (includes any indoor venues, libraries, conferences, rental spaces, concerts, nightclubs, casinos and similar):
- Attendance is limited to 33% of fire code capacity
- Attendees are only permitted to attend with their household or two close contacts for those living alone.
- Attendees must be masked and have two-metre physical distancing between households.
- Outdoor dining only with a maximum of six individuals per table (one household or two close contacts for those living alone).
- Liquor sales and consumption restrictions (10 p.m. sales and 11 p.m. consumption) apply.
- Restaurants are eligible to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program.
Re-Open Saskatchewan is a plan built on a methodical and phased-in approach to lift restrictions slowly and responsibly.
Current phase: Step 2
Effective September 17, 2021, an interim public health order will be in effect requiring the use of non-medical masks in all indoor public spaces in Saskatchewan.
The path to one great summer is designed to get Manitobans back to their lives quickly and safely.
The Manitoba government will continue the extension of the state of emergency in efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and variants. The extension goes into effect September 22, 2021 at 4pm for an additional period of 30 days
As of September 3, 2021, Manitoba has instituted a vaccination passport system.
Current phase: Milestone 2
- Retail businesses to open with increased capacity at 50 per cent to a limit of 500 persons.
- Personal service businesses (hair and nail salons, estheticians, barbers, etc.) to reopen at 50 per cent capacity.
- Movie theatres will be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity, for fully vaccinated people only.
- Restaurant capacity increases to 50% for indoor dining. For indoor dining, patrons seated together must continue to be from the same household, unless all patrons at the table are fully immunized. For outdoor dining, tables are limited to a maximum of 8 patrons and can be from different households regardless of immunization status.
Criteria for next step:
- 80%+ of all Manitobans age 12 and above have received their 1st vaccination dose;
- and 75%+ have received their 2nd vaccination dose.
For more information, visit the Province of Manitoba’s website.
Quebec is using a colour coded system to apply restrictions in specific areas. Use the Alert Levels map to view regional restrictions.
As of September 1, 2021, Quebec has instituted a vaccination passport system.
Current phase: Repealing restrictions
Since June 11:
All retailers are allowed to open, including both essential and non-essential businesses.
Bar outdoor terraces can open:
- Red and orange levels: 2 adults from separate residences or occupants of a single residence per table
- Yellow level: Occupants of 2 residences per table
Supervised outdoor sports and recreation allowed in groups of 25 people:
- Red and orange levels: sports without contacts
- Yellow level: sports with brief contacts
Starting June 25:
- Day and sleepover vacation camps opening (Starting June 21)
- Outdoor public activities and events allowed according to specific rules
- Easing of requirements on wearing masks and distancing oneself from private home gatherings for people vaccinated with 2 doses
- Resumption of festivals and other events presenting outdoor performances during which spectators are standing of sitting without pre-assigned seating, with a maximum of 2 500 people authorized on each site
For more information, read Quebec’s Reopening Plan
The Path to Green COVID-19 recovery plan includes three phases to slowly loosen restrictions, with target dates based on anticipated vaccination rates and low numbers of hospitalizations.
New Brunswick’s mask mandated has been reinstated for indoor public spaces on September 22, 2021.
Phase 3 came into effect on July 31, 2021.
Current phase: Phase 3
In Phase 3:
- The province moves to the Green level, the mandatory order ends and all restrictions are lifted.
- 75% of New Brunswickers 12 and older have received their second dose of a vaccine.
- Conditional on rising vaccination rates and low COVID-19 hospitalizations
- Retailers are strongly advised to follow WorkSafeNB’s Guide to Communicable Disease Prevention. This document is guidance only but it will be vitally important for retailers to follow it in order to avoid possible COVID related workers’ compensation issues. In particular, he mentioned that retailers should strongly consider keeping the following measures in place (at least until Public Health determines next steps re variants):
- Signage at the entrances advising people to stay home if they are sick (employees and customers)
- Continue providing hand hygiene facilities
- Maintain physical distancing in stores
- If physical distancing cannot be maintained, consider using protective barriers
For more information, read New Brunswick’s Path to Green Plan
Nova Scotia’s reopening plan takes a phased approach to safely easing restrictions.
Nova Scotia began Phase 4 on July 14, 2021. Phase 5 is expected to begin October 4, 2021. See press release.
As of October 4, 2021, Nova Scotia will implement a proof of vaccination system for select settings.
Current phase: Phase 4
- As of Sept. 15, the only restrictions that will remain in place for the general population within Nova Scotia are those related to management of COVID-19 cases. For example, anyone with symptoms must still get tested, isolate while they wait for results and continue to isolate if they test positive.
- Businesses and other organizations are free to set their own mask policies.
- Masks will be required in schools until October 10, 2021.
- As of August 25, 2021, New Brunswickers can travel to the province, with varying levels of restrictions, based on vaccination status. See Nova Scotia/New Brunswick Travel Protocol.
- As of June 30, 2021, Canadians outside Atlantic Canada can travel to the province, with varying levels of restrictions, based on vaccination status.
For more information, read Nova Scotia’s reopening plan.
P.E.I.’s five-step Moving Forward plan is a stepwise approach to easing travel and public health measures.
P.E.I. has combined Steps 3 and 4. These steps began on July 18, 2021. Step 5 is expected to begin on September 12, 2021.
P.E.I.’s mask mandated has been reinstated for indoor public spaces on September 17, 2021.
Current phases: Step 3 & 4
- There are no specific capacity limits for retailers, though businesses must follow their COVID Operational Plan
- Restaurants – no restricted table numbers at restaurants; no restricted closing time for in-person consumption of food and beverage.
- Personal gatherings will increase to up to 20 people indoors and outdoors
- Organized gatherings will be permitted with a maximum of 200 people outdoors and 100 indoors
- As of June 27, 2021, people from New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and the Magdalen Islands are able to travel to the province, provided they have an approved PEI Pass. As of July 7, 2021, Canadians outside Atlantic Canada and the Magdalen Islands can apply for a PEI Pass to enter PEI on or after July 18, 2021. More information on travel protocols are available here.
Criteria for next phase:
- The level of disease is low and transmission is controlled within P.E.I., Atlantic provinces, and Canada
- Second of two doses of vaccine received by 80% of PEI residents age 12 and older.
For more information, read P.E.I.’s Moving Forward plan
The Together Again plan is a phased approach that will be followed to lift long-term public health measures.
Step 3 began on September 15, 2021.
Newfoundland and Labrador is planning on instituting a vaccine passport.
As of September 17, 2021, the mask mandate has been reinstituted in indoor public places.
Current phase: Step 2
Newfoundland and Labrador is beginning it’s transition from an Alert Level framework to a gradual reopening. In the transition phase:
- No capacity restrictions for retail stores or restaurants so long as physical distancing can be maintained between patrons. Self-serve buffets prohibited.
- Mask requirements in indoor public spaces.
- No capacity restrictions.
- Larger meetings and conferences are allowed.
- Indoor and outdoor sports and tournaments are permitted with COVID-19 protocols.
- Fully and partially vaccinated Canadians have no testing or self-isolation requirements.
For more information, read Newfoundland and Labrador’s Together Again plan
A Path Forward is Yukon’s plan for repealing COVID-19 restrictions and opening
Yukon’s state of emergency ended on August 25, 2021.
Yukon has implemented a vaccination passport for travelers.
Current phase: Phase 3
Yukon is focusing on long-term sustainability while
monitoring impacts of changes to protect
the health of Yukoners as we learn to live
Throughout the first three reopening phases, Yukoners
should be mindful of the key areas of personal responsibility
(see pages 5 to 6):
- Practise the 6 steps to staying safe (social distance and wash hands)
- Look after others
- Look after ourselves
For more information, visit Yukon’s COVID-19 Situation site.
Using Emerging Wisely 2021, the Northwest Territories are moving away from “phases” and towards risk mitigation and guidance.
Northwest Territories extended the territory-wide public health emergency through September 14, 2021.
Current phase: Relaxed measures
- Non-essential out of territory travel is not recommended.
- Leisure travel into the territory is not permitted. Exemptions are considered for compassionate reasons, family reunification, exceptional circumstances, travel from Nunavut/Yukon, and remote tourism.
- Fully vaccinated: 8 days self-isolation with negative day 8 test.
- Partially vaccinated or unvaccinated: 14 days self-isolation.
- Exemptions are considered for travellers from Nunavut and Yukon.
- Up to 25 people or businesses follow approved plans.
- Households can have up to 10 people with a maximum of 5 non-household members.
For more information, visit the Northwest Territories’ COVID information page.
The Government of Nunavut has made the decision to re-assess COVID restrictions every two weeks, and implement public health measure they see fit.
Nunavut extended the territory’s public health emergency until Sept 16
Current phase: Relaxed measures
Nunavut’s Chief Public Health officer will consider:
- Guiding criteria per each stage
- Are the current lifted measures still safe?
- Does lifting more restrictions pose a low, medium, or high risk to Nunavummiut?
For more information, visit the Government of Nunavut’s website.