Shopping regulations in Ontario are about to get stricter! Starting on Thursday, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit has a new list of rules for the region’s essential businesses. New social distancing protocol will include employee-monitored parking lots, portable hand washing stations, and removing all loose items at takeout concessions.

If you’ve already noticed new social distancing protocols being introduced in stores across Eastern Ontario, you may find it’s about to get stricter.

As of 12 a.m. on Thursday, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit has ordered all essential businesses to implement a series of rules and regulations in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Businesses will have to take a number of previously unprecedented steps, that will aim to limit the number of customers in-store, and to prevent people from hoarding supplies during the pandemic.

The new rules will apply to all essential businesses that have remained open so far, including grocery stores, liquor stores, pharmacies, companies offering curbside pick-up, and all takeout food services.

From here on out, residents of Eastern Ontario will notice staff members located at every store’s front door, in an attempt to control the number of people inside at any one time.

Additionally, an employee will also be assigned to each parking lot, to help stagger the number of customers entering the premises.

Inside stores, officials recommend a one-way system be implemented, in order to create a “shopping flow.”

In front of service areas, such as deli counters or bakeries, tape will be placed 6 feet away from the glass.

All shopping carts and baskets should be fully sanitized between uses, and portable hand washing stations will be provided for all customers at all store entrances.

Cashiers who interact with customers should have plexiglass dividers, and all items should be paid for via contactless tap. 

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit also asks that stores limit the number of items per customer of any one product, in order to prevent “hoarding.”

It’s not only grocery stores that are being asked to up their social distancing game.

Companies offering curbside pick-up and drive-thru must also implement crowd control measures, and use proper hygiene procedures for all employees and customers.

For restaurants offering takeout and delivery, health officials are asking that all loose items at takeout concessions are removed, such as stirring sticks, straws and napkins.

In these locations, no cash transactions will be permitted.

In addition, all essential businesses will be asked to screen employees for COVID-19 at the beginning of each shift. Anybody who is sick will be sent home immediately.

While you may have spotted some of these measures already, most of the above will become mandatory in all stores as of Thursday, April 30. 

I guess our grocery store wait lines are about to get a little longer, eh?

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