ontario retail reopening

Here are the new rules for retail stores reopening in Ontario

The reopening of retail stores in Ontario is inching closer to reality as the provincial government has finally caved to demand from small business owners and their customers to let non big-box stores reopen (with strict safety measures in place, of course).

Once cleared to leave shutdown mode and re-enter the province's colour-coded COVID-19 reopening framework system, each of Ontario's 34 public health regions will have in-person shopping permissions to some extent, Premier Doug Ford announced on Monday.

How liberal those permissions will be depend on which colour zone each region goes into once their respective stay-at-home orders are lifted. It's still too early to say where Toronto will fall on the scale, even if it leaves shutdown in two weeks, on February 22, as planned.

Fortunately, we can prepare for any situation using guidelines provided by the province for each colour zone this afternoon.

Below are Ontario's "new and modified measures" for retail, meant to "allow in-store shopping at non-essential retail stores" while protecting the health and safety of patrons and workers.

Rules for retail stores reopening in Ontario
Grey-Lockdown Level
  • In person shopping will be permitted for retail sales, with capacity limits. In addition to the previous restriction of 50 per cent capacity limit for supermarkets and other stores that primarily sell groceries, convenience stores, and pharmacies, there will now be a 25 per cent capacity limit for all other stores that engage in retail sales to the public, including, big box stores.
  • Curbside pick-up and delivery is permitted.
  • Stores wil be required to post the capacity limit publicly.
  • Stores will be required to screen in compliance with any advice, recommendations and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health or other public health officials. This includes posting signs at all entrances to the premises, in a location visible to the public, that informs individuals on how to screen themselves for COVID-19 prior to entering the premises, actively screening every person who works at the business or organization before they enter the premises; and actively screening patrons entering indoor malls.
  • Stores must require individuals to maintain at least two metres of physical distance and wear a face covering, including when attending organized public events and other gatherings, with limited exceptions.
Red-Control Level
  • In person shopping will be permitted for retail services, with capacity limits including: 75 per cent capacity limit for supermarkets and other stores that primarily sell groceries, convenience stores, and pharmacies; and 50 per cent capacity limit for all other retail businesses that engage in retail sales to the public, including big box stores.
  • Curbside pick-up and delivery permitted.
  • Stores wil be required to post the capacity limit publicly.
  • All retailers and other sectors will be required to have a safety plan and post it.
  • Stores will be required to screen in compliance with any advice, recommendations and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health or other public health officials. This includes posting signs at all entrances to the premises, in a location visible to the public, that informs individuals on how to screen themselves for COVID-19 prior to entering the premises, actively screening every person who works at the business or organization before they enter the premises; and actively screening patrons entering indoor malls.
  • Stores must require individuals to maintain at least two metres of physical distance and wear a face covering, with limited exceptions.
Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, and Orange-Restrict Levels, and Other Sectors

"Further changes to measures in the COVID-19 Response Framework (e.g. opening of additional businesses, loosening of public health and workplace measures) will be restricted for at least 28 days following the last public health unit returning to the Framework," notes the province of its new rules.

"The Chief Medical Officer of Health will continue to consult with experts, review data, and provide advice to the government on the appropriate and effective measures that are needed to protect the health of Ontarians."

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert


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