Member Update / Impact
The restrictions that the government of Newfoundland and Labrador had implemented in the St. John’s metro area have now been expanded to encompass the entire province. These expanded restrictions take effect immediately. The entire province has moved back to Alert Level 5 as it battles an outbreak of the B117 variant of the coronavirus.
For retailers, this development means that the rules, which were put in place through the mandatory order for the St. John’s metro area over the past two days, now apply to the entire province. See CBC article.
These restrictions will last for at least two weeks. Per usual, the government made this announcement without releasing any background information. Nevertheless, RCC advises that retailers and quick service restaurants in the province follow the same rules that have been in place in the St. John’s metro area, including:
- Retail stores that do not provide services essential to life, health or personal safety of individuals and animals are to close to in-person service but can offer online/ telephone sales with delivery or curbside pick-up. See the ‘essential’ list below.
- Retail stores that provide ‘essential’ products and services are allowed to keep their entire retail store open and sell all products. This practice will be subject to ongoing review from Public Health.
- Restaurants are closed for in-person dining. Take-out, delivery and drive-thru options are permitted.
- Personal service establishments, including spas, esthetic services, hair salons, body piercing, tattooing and tanning salons, are to close.
- Animal daycares and grooming facilities can remain open provided that they can ensure contactless drop-off and pick-up.
- Bingo halls and cinemas are closed.
- Group arts and cultural activities are suspended. This includes dance and music classes.
- All schools and post secondary institutions are closed.
- The government is advising against travel in and out of the metro area. Personal travel to and from this area should be for essential purposes only. Commercial trucking for all products can continue into / out of the metro area.
- Given these changes, Public Health has noted that inspectors will be understanding if businesses are not in compliance with the mandatory order on February 13, 2021.
- All in person voting in tomorrow’s provincial election has been suspended. Those who wish to vote and have not yet done so will now have to vote by mail in ballot. This will delay the determining of the election results.
As noted in RCC’s member notice from this afternoon, RCC continues to call on the government to follow the successful approach that has been used to combat the COVID-19 second wave in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. In these provinces, retailers were allowed to be open but with strict in-store customer occupancy limits. Following two day’s of continuous contact with the Deputy Minister of Health and senior members of the Public Health division, it is clear that there is no appetite from the Newfoundland and Labrador government to loosen the current restrictions on retail openings. The government will not consider such a move until after the two week timeline for the current mandatory order has expired.
Public angst, combined with the fact that the outbreak will now delay the results of the provincial election (originally scheduled for February 13, 2021) for at least two weeks, means that there is little willingness or ability for politicians to interject on behalf of the retail sector and immediately amend the mandatory order.
The list of retail products that the government considers ‘essential’ is as follows:
- 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
- pet and animal supplies
RCC has provided the Newfoundland and Labrador government with the Stanford University Study, which details the merits of allowing retailers to open with strict in-store customer capacity limits.
RCC will continue to push for fairness in allowing all retailers to open with strict in-store customer capacity limits. However, until the COVID-19 case numbers drop and until a new government is elected, this change will be difficult to achieve.
For more information contact Jim Cormier, Atlantic Director at [email protected] or (902) 422-4144.