Provincial Reopening Frameworks

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.

Jump to: B.C. | Ontario | Alberta | Saskatchewan | Manitoba | Quebec | New Brunswick | Nova Scotia | P.E.I. | Newfoundland and Labrador | Yukon | N.W.T. | Nunavut

British Columbia

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 on September 7, 2021 (earliest).

Current phase: Step 3

Mask are now recommended (not required) in ‘indoor public spaces’ including retail stores. 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.

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.

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 began Stage 3 on July 1, 2021. Stage 3, Alberta’s final stage, aims to fully reopen the province and repeal remaining public health measures.

Current phase: Stage 3

As of July 1, 2021, all remaining health orders and guidance documents have been removed, including those that apply to mandatory masks in retail stores. 

For more information, read Alberta’s Open for Summer plan.


Re-Open Saskatchewan is a plan built on a methodical and phased-in approach to lift restrictions slowly and responsibly.

Saskatchewan began its final reopening stage on July 11, 2021.

Current phase: Step 2

As of July 11, 2021, all remaining health orders and guidance documents have been removed, including those that apply to mandatory masks in retail stores. 


The path to one great summer is designed to get Manitobans back to their lives quickly and safely.

As of July 17 Manitoba transitioned into its second reopening stage, with its final reopening stage anticipated in early August.

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.

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

New Brunswick

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.

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

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 at some point in September, 2021.

Current phase: Phase 4

  • All retail stores can operate at maximum capacity (shoppers and staff) and need to follow the Health Protection Act Order, including public health measures like social distancing and masks. Households can have more than 1 designated shopper.
  • Restaurants can return to normal service hours.  They can offer indoor and outdoor dining with a minimum physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) between tables. There is a maximum of 25 people per table. Wearing a mask is required (except when eating or drinking). 
  • Personal services businesses (like hair salons, barber shops, spas, nail salons and body art establishments) can offer all services by appointment and walk-ins, including services that require a client to remove their mask. They also need to follow their sector-specific plan.
  • Cinemas can welcome patrons at 50 per cent capacity to a maximum of 150 people indoors or 250 people outdoors; organizers need a plan following guidelines for events.
  • As of June 30, 2021, people from New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island are able to travel to the province without completing a Nova Scotia Safe Check-in form and without having to self-isolate. 
  • As of June 30, 2021, Canadians outside Atlantic Canada can travel to the province, with varying levels of restrictions, based on vaccination status.

Criteria for next step:

  • 75% of population has received their second vaccine dose

For more information, read Nova Scotia’s reopening plan.

Prince Edward Island

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 August 8, 2021.

  • As of July 9, 2021, masks are no longer required but are still recommended for people in retail and restaurant establishments. 

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; no restricted closing time for in-person consumption of food and beverage
  • Personal gatherings will increase to up to 50 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

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Together Again plan is a phased approach that will be followed to lift long-term public health measures.

Step 1 began on July 1, 2021.

Exception to the plan: As of June 23, 2021, people from Atlantic Canada have been able to travel to the province without having to self-isolate.

Step 2 is expected to begin on August 15, 2021.

Current phase: Step 1

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 so long as physical distancing can be maintained between patrons.
  • Restaurants can open at 75 percent capacity with physical distancing maintained between patrons seated at adjacent tables. Self-serve buffets prohibited.
  • Wear a non-medical mask in indoor public spaces
  • Maintain physical distancing from others
  • Outdoor gatherings up to 250 people with physical distancing
  • Indoor gatherings of p to 200 people or 75% capacity with physical distancing (whichever is less). Larger venues can have separated cohorts with physical distancing.
  • Community fireworks, parades and outdoor ceremonial events are permitted with physical distancing
  • Outdoor personal gatherings up to 50 people
  • Indoor personal gatherings limited to a household and their Steady 20
  • Non essential travel from within Canada is permitted. Rules depend on vaccination status

Criteria for next phase:

  • About 80% of people ages 12 years and older are vaccinated with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine; AND
  • About 50% of people ages 12 years and older are vaccinated with two doses of COVID-19 vaccine; AND
  • Low COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations

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 has been in Phase 3 since last summer.

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
with COVID-19.

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.

Northwest Territories

Using Emerging Wisely 2021, the Northwest Territories are moving away from “phases” and towards risk mitigation and guidance. 

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.

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.

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