Ontario restrictions announced - Retail Council of Canada
Coronavirus | Ontario

Ontario restrictions announced

November 20, 2020

UPDATE NOV 23: Lockdown regulation published for Ontario

On Friday, November 20, 2020, Ontario announced lockdowns for Toronto and Peel Region for a period of 28 days, as well as a material change to the “Grey – Lockdown” rules.

The “Grey – Lockdown” may expand to other regions. RCC is aware that Ontario is actively reviewing new case numbers from York Region, and that they will have a reassessment in a week’s time, to see if they should remain in “Red – Control”, or escalate to “Grey – Lockdown”.

The new “Grey – Lockdown” rules specify that only certain categories of retailers may remain open, with reduced total capacity (50% capacity). This includes:

  • Grocery
  • Pharmacy
  • Gas Stations
  • Hardware
  • Beer, wine and liquor stores
  • Safety supply stores

For greater clarity – while “department store” appears as a definition in the Ontario framework, RCC understands from Government sources that “department store” is not a phrase used in the yet unpublished regulation. Instead, the yet unpublished regulation states that “discount and big box retailers selling grocery” are deemed essential business.

In addition, car repair, garden centres, plant nurseries may operate “by appointment only”.

All non-essential retailers are allowed to do curbside sales. All retailers will be able to access their place of business for the purposes of operating curbside; this includes retailers without an external facing door.

If an essential retailer is inside a mall, customers may enter the mall for the purposes of shopping at the essential retailer. All non-essential businesses in a mall must be closed.

In addition, the following regions move into the “Red – Control ” category. This category limits the number of patrons permitted to be seated indoors at food premises to 10, and requires retailers to ensure customers are two metres apart while standing in line. Newly added regions are:

  • Waterloo Region
  • Durham Region


  • RCC issued a media statement, in advance of the government’s announcement.  RCC has been advocating for all retailers to remain open and the following principles have and will continue to be advanced:
    • Retailers operate safely and responsibly and are doing everything possible to ensure the health, safety and security of all employees, consumers and citizens.
    • Retail stores are low-risk environments and should not be included in lockdowns. There is no data to support that retail environments are a source of COVID-19 spread.
    • Lockdowns not based on evidence result in lost jobs and business closures and do not achieve improved health outcomes.

Next Steps

RCC knows that retail stores are low-risk environments and data on the spread of COVID-19 wholly supports this. Retailers are safe and responsible and have done everything possible to ensure the health, safety and security of their employees, consumers and Ontarians.

We will continue to advocate for store openings, and continue to underscore the safety of retail with the Ontario government, including meeting with Premier Ford to directly share the concerns of the sector. We will also continue to press for target dates for reopenings to be adhered to so that businesses can adjust so they can continue to serve customers safely responsibly. 

For more information, email Sebastian Prins at sprins@retailcouncil.org