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Ontario’s New Rules for Reopening Non-Essential Retail Stores

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As Ontario gradually lifts its Stay-at-Home order, new measures may bring respite for retail businesses.

Non-essential retail stores in the province may soon be able to open for in-person shopping, even in a lockdown zone.

Ontario will be slowly lifting the shutdown in each of its 34 regions based on a review of local public health indicators. If it is safe to do so, the region will move back to the colour-coded COVID-19 Response Framework.

The Framework has been updated with new measures. These include allowing non-essential retail businesses to reopen with restrictions.

What are the new public health and safety measures for retail stores?

The safety measures you must follow will depend on your region’s colour-coded level:

Grey-Lockdown Level
  • Retail stores can open for in-person shopping, but with capacity limits. Grocery stores, convenience stores, supermarkets and pharmacies will continue to operate at a 50% capacity limit.
  • All other retail stores, including big box stores, can open for in-person shopping at a 25% capacity limit.
  • The stores will have to post the capacity limit publicly.
  • They can offer curbside pick-up and delivery options to customers.
  • Businesses and organizations must screen in compliance with public health guidance. All entrances to the premises must have clear and visible signs. The signage must inform visitors how to screen themselves for COVID-19 prior to entering.
  • They must actively screen every employee before they enter the premises.
  • They must actively screen patrons entering indoor malls.
  • Individuals must maintain at least two metres of physical distance. Everyone must wear a face covering, with some exceptions.
Red-Control Level
  • Grocery stores, convenience stores, supermarkets and pharmacies will operate at a 75% capacity limit.
  • All other retail stores, including big box stores, may open for in-person shopping at a 50% capacity limit.
  • The stores must post the capacity limit publicly.
  • Curbside pick-up and delivery permitted
  • All retailers and other sectors must have a COVID-19 safety plan and post it in a place where it can be easily seen.
  • Businesses and organizations must screen in compliance with public health guidance. All entrances to the premises must have clear and visible signs. The signage must inform visitors how to screen themselves for COVID-19 prior to entering.
  • They must actively screen every employee before they enter the premises.
  • They must actively screen patrons entering indoor malls.
  • Individuals must keep at least two metres of physical distance. Everyone must wear a face covering, with some exceptions.
Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, and Orange-Restrict Levels, and other sectors
  • Businesses and organizations must screen in compliance with public health guidance. All entrances to the premises must have clear and visible signs. The signage must inform visitors how to screen themselves for COVID-19 prior to entering.
  • They must actively screen every employee before they enter the premises.
  • They must actively screen patrons entering indoor malls at the Orange-Restrict Level.
  • Screening can be passive except for indoor malls and other sectors. They must screen according to the advice, recommendations and instructions from the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health as per the original Framework.
  • All retailers and other sectors must have a COVID-19 safety plan and post it in a place where it can be easily seen.
  • Individuals must keep at least two metres of physical distance and wear a face covering, with some exceptions. This includes when at organized public events and gatherings.
Do you need help reopening your business in compliance with the new measures?

Our experts can help you develop company policies as well as with any other HR, health and safety, or employment advice you may need. See how we have helped other small and medium businesses get their business compliant with provincial legislation.