Shopping Is Going To Look Completely Different In Ontario Than In BC As Canada Re-Opens

Each province has their own rules.
Canada Reopening Plan: How Stores Being Open Again Will Look In Each Province

Does anyone remember stores? Most of them have been shuttered during the worldwide pandemic, but Canada's reopening plan will see some of them serving the public once more. However, shopping is going to look different in each province.

What goes on in Ontario might not necessarily be happening in British Columbia. Quebec will have different rules and regulations than Saskatchewan or Alberta. 

Prime Minister Trudeau has said that when it comes to figuring out how to reopen the Canadian economy, he would leave decisions up to the provinces based on their public health guidelines.

Economic decisions are also being made on the basis of how many cases there are and how much testing will be done in each region.

Still, it seems like Canadians can expect some of their favourite retailers to start cautiously opening back up again across the country.

However, how they shop at those stores is all going to depend on where they live. Will customers be required to wear masks? Will opening hours change? Is there a limit to how many people can be inside?

The Retail Council of Canada has compiled provincial data and regulations to show how each region's reopening plan will start out.

British Columbia

Stores have already been allowed to reopen in the province. However, as of May 19, restaurants, cafes, and businesses offering personal services (such as hairdressers and nail salons) may reopen.

One person per five metres of open retail space will be allowed in the store at all times (including employees).

However, restaurants will have to follow health and distancing guidelines laid out by the province. All employers are also required to post their safety plan for workers and customers to see.


As of May 14, all businesses are allowed to open in the province (with the exception of some personal body treatments).

There are no strict provincial regulations about customer capacity, although stores must allow for at least two metres of distance between people.


Like its neighbour to the West, Saskatchewan has also allowed all businesses, including hair and nail salons, to reopen as of May 19.

Stores are being encouraged to post information about their maximum occupancy and to allow for proper distancing.


As of May 4, all retailers and most personal services are open in the province. However, non-essential retailers must operate at 50 percent capacity or one person for every 10 square metres (whichever is lower).

Hand sanitizer or soap and water must be provided for customers entering any store.


The province officially entered phase one of its reopening plan on May 19, allowing businesses with an entrance facing the street to open to the public.

There is no provincial regulation or limit on how many people can be in a store at one time. Curbside pickup will still be allowed.

While these are provincial guidelines, it's recommended that you check your local public health unit for any additional municipal restrictions.


All businesses with a door to the outside that is normally used by customers are allowed to open in Montreal on May 25. Other regions have seen their businesses open as early as May 4.

Stores must allow for proper social distancing with at least two metres between people or 50 percent of their capacity as indicated by fire code regulations.

Essential businesses can open on Sundays starting on May 24. All other businesses can be open on Sundays starting on May 31.

New Brunswick

Retailers in the province have been allowed to reopen since May 8, providing they have a proper operational plan that can be presented to officials if it is requested.

Stores must allow for adequate social distancing, and no PPE is required. Businesses must post signs at their entrance stopping anyone with symptoms from entering.

Nova Scotia

Stores in Nova Scotia have been allowed to stay open through most of the pandemic, providing that they can allow for enough distance between customers and employees.

Like New Brunswick, retailers are required to post signage at their entrances denying access to people with symptoms.

Prince Edward Island

Stores and businesses in PEI will be allowed to reopen as of May 22, as long as they have an operational plan.

This will outline the measures being taken to maintain social distance between employees and clients, as well as sanitizing and cleaning procedures.

Newfoundland & Labrador

Newfoundland does not yet have a single date for reopening, but does have measures in place for when it reaches Alert Level 3 (it is currently at level 4).

When it does get to that point, the province will allow for some outdoor recreational activities and the reopening of retailers, including those located in malls (with some restrictions). Personal services such as hair salons will also be allowed to open under provincial guidelines.

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