ontario retail stores

Retail stores get the green light to reopen in Ontario next week

Clothing! Furniture! Games! Shoes!... Other stuff!

As of 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, May 19, Ontario residents will once again be permitted to walk into physical stores, look at items, purchase said items, and take them home right away — a process that most of us probably took for granted before COVID-19 hit.

Premier Doug Ford announced during his daily pandemic press conference this afternoon that a whole new host of business and service types will be allowed to reopen soon. Like, real soon.

Golf courses, animal boarders, marinas, private parks and campgrounds will once again be allowed to operate (under strict conditions, naturally) as of 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 16.

Then, "assuming trends in key public health indicators continue to improve," the province will enter stage one of its larger plan for reopening the economy on Tuesday, May 19.

Along with vehicle dealerships, in-person counselling centres, media recording, emissions testing and research facilities (among many other things), all retail stores located outside of shopping malls can reopen on Tuesday, so long as they have a street-front entrance.

The guidelines and restrictions for retail store owners who choose to reopen next week (the move is optional) are as follows, per the Ontario government:

  • No indoor malls.
  • Must have a street-front entrance (i.e., stores with dedicated street access/storefront).
  • Open in-store by appointment and/or by limiting the number of people in the store at any one time. Retailers would need to restrict the number of customers per square metre — for example, one customer per 4 square metres (43 square feet) — to ensure physical distancing of 2 metres at all times.
  • Only fitting rooms with doors would be used, not curtains, to facilitate disinfecting. Retailers would restrict use to every second fitting room at any one time to allow for cleaning after use and ensure physical distancing.

Store operators are also encouraged to review and abide by the government's COVID-19 health and safety guidelines for retailers, one of more than 80 sets of sector-specific guidelines drawn up by the province in advance of lifting its restrictions.

Ford stressed during his press conference today that businesses should only open if they're ready, and stick to curbside pickup or delivery services for now if they're not.

"The truth is, we can't fully predict where things will go, so we need to be ready to react if we see a sudden increase in cases. We cannot let our guard down now," said the premier.

"As we get more and more people back to work, the risk of flare-ups is real… so we need to stay vigilant. We can't take our progress for granted."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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