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COVID-19: Is your business an essential service?

Several jurisdictions have announced partial or full closures of businesses as part of their COVID-19 State of Emergency responses. We are updating this list as new information comes available. If your business is able to continue operations remotely (e.g. work-from-home, sell online), you may continue to do so.

Please check back regularly.

Provinces where all non-essential businesses must close

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador declared a Public Health Emergency on March 18, 2020. As of March 23, 2020, the province ordered that all non-essential businesses must close, effective immediately.

To help you determine if you have to close your business, please see the official list of essential services and activities on the government’s website

For retail stores that offer both essential and non-essential services the business is required to cease operations of only non-essential services. Where possible, all businesses can explore options to continue business operations online.  
 

Ontario

Ontario declared a State of Emergency on March 17, 2020. The province ordered that all non-essential businesses must close by 11:59pm on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. The closure will last a minimum of 14 days. On April 3, 2020, Premier Ford announced further closures that will take effect Saturday, April 4, 2020 at 11:59PM.

To help you determine if you have to close your business, please see the official list of priority services and activities on the Ontario government’s website

The province has also launched a new toll-free Stop the Spread Business Information Line at    1-888-444-3659. Businesses who have questions about closures of at-risk workplaces or how emergency measures impact their business or employment can call the line from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST, Monday to Sunday. 
 

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island declared a Public Health Emergency on March 16. As of March 18, 2020, the government of Prince Edward Island has ordered the closure of all non-essential services. 

To help you determine if you have to close your business, please see the official list of priority services and activities on the government’s website

Non-essential businesses in PEI must remain closed indefinitely as the situation continues to be re-evaluated on a regular basis. Workers should continue working from home wherever possible, while only essential workers should be on site.
 

Quebec

Quebec declared a Public Health Emergency on March 14, 2020. As of March 25, 2020, at 00:01 and until April 13, 2020, the Government of Québec has ordered the minimization of all non-priority services and activities.
 
To help you determine if you have to close your business, please see the official list of priority services and activities on the government.

In addition to the minimization of non-priority services and activities, Quebec has also announced that everything, including essential services and activities, must close on Sundays to give overworked employees a break. The only businesses exempt are gas stations, convenience stores, pharmacies and take-out and delivery services at restaurants.

It should be noted that all businesses can always engage in teleworking and e-commerce.

 

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan declared a State of Emergency on March 18, 2020. In consultation with the Chief Medical Health Officer, a list of critical public services and allowable business services was created to inform the business community of which businesses can continue to operate in accordance with social distancing. All changes are effective as of March 26, 2020. 

To help you determine if you have to close your business, please see the current public health order in effect for the province. The official list of priority services and activities for Saskatchewan is available in PDF format.

If you have questions on the status of your business on the list of allowable business services, please contact Saskatchewan’s Business Response Team at 1-844-800-8688.
 

Alberta

Alberta declared a State of Emergency on March 17, 2020. On Friday, March 27, 2020, Alberta declared all non-essential businesses must close, effective immediately.

To help you determine if you have to close your business, please see the official list of essential services and activities on the Alberta government’s website.

It has been noted that those who violate the terms of the current public health order may be subject to a fine. 
 

Manitoba

Manitoba declared a State of Emergency on March 20, 2020. On March 30, 2020, Manitoba ordered the closure of all non-critical businesses and services starting April 1 until at least April 14. 

To help you determine if you have to close your business, please see the official list of critical services and activities on the Manitoba government’s website. A list of critical businesses is provided in the “Schedule” section, starting on page six of the document. 
 

Provinces and territories with partial business closures

British Columbia

British Columbia declared a state of emergency on March 17, 2020.

On March 26, 2020, the British Columbia Government announced that it had compiled a list of essential services for the province during the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, British Columbia has not yet ordered that all non-essential services close. To help you determine whether your business is considered essential or not, please see the list available on the government’s website.

British Columbia has declared the following businesses must close:

  • All businesses that cannot maintain a minimum social distance of 1-2 meters between patrons
  • Restaurants (except for take-out/delivery; also allowed to use servers to deliver liquor products)
  • Bars, pubs and nightclubs
  • Entertainment venues (theatres, concert halls, etc.)
  • Casinos
  • Personal service establishments (barbershops, hair and nail salons, tattoo shops, spas, etc. 

Any business or service that has not been ordered to close may stay open at this time if it can adapt its services and workplace to the orders and recommendations of the Provincial Health Officer (1-2 metres social distancing for customers, increased sanitation, no gatherings over 50 people). 
 

New Brunswick

New Brunswick declared a state of emergency on March 19, 2020. 

To date, the Government of New Brunswick has not released a list of which businesses it considers essential. The province has, however, issued a Declaration of a State of Emergency and Mandatory Order where it outlines which businesses must close, which must adjust their operations, and which are exempt from closure to date. 

To help you determine whether your business must close at this time, please see the current Mandatory Order outlining these details.  All businesses must apply all of the social distancing and hygiene recommendations of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

For additional information and guidelines for businesses in New Brunswick, please also see the Frequently Asked Questions page on the government’s website, where the State of Emergency Declaration section provides some industry-specific questions and answers. 
 

Northwest Territories

Northwest Territories declared a Public Health Emergency on March 18, 2020. 
Northwest Territories has declared the following businesses must adjust their operations:

  • Recreational facilities/indoors (arenas, pools recreational centre, youth centre, gyms) and bingo halls must cancel all upcoming planned gatherings (regardless of size or number of participants, or whether they are held inside or outside). 
  • Pharmacies, liquor stores, gas stations, restaurants and pubs serving food, and coffee shops should ensure social distancing of two metresBusinesses that require clients and staff to have close contact (i.e. less than two metres) should close, or take steps to limit how close patrons are to one another

Northwest Territories has declared that the following businesses must close:

 

  • Tour operators
  • Bottle depots
  • Gyms and fitness centres
  • Museums and Art galleries
  • Bars and night clubs
  • Theatres and movie theatres
  • Buffet style restaurants
  • Personal services (barbers, tattoo shops, massage, hair, nail and other salons)

Northwest Territories has declared the following businesses as essential and are exempt from closures but should maintain social distancing of two metres: 

  • Grocery stores
  • Gas stations
  • Convenience stores 
  • Pharmacies 
  • Liquor stores 
  • Restaurants and pubs serving food, and coffee shops 

If you have questions for the Government of Northwest Territories, please contact [email protected]. This email address is monitored regularly between 8:30AM – 5:00PM, Monday to Friday.    

For daily updates, please see the government’s webpage. 
 

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia declared a State of Emergency on March 22, 2020. This State of Emergency has been extended until noon on April 19, 2020. 
Under the policy, a workplace or business that is not considered essential or has not yet been ordered to close may stay open, so long as a two metre distance between employees can be maintained. Workspaces must also be cleaned and disinfected at a minimum of twice per day. 

For the up-to-date list of which businesses must close or adjust their operations, please see the “Closures and restrictions” section of Nova Scotia’s Alerts and Notices webpage

COVID-19 Employer Assessment Tool – Can my business operate? 

The Government of Nova Scotia has made available an on-line tool to quickly help employers determine if they may remain open, in compliance with current workplace safety requirements.

 

Yukon

Yukon declared a Public Health Emergency on March 18, 2020. 
On April 2, 2020, the Government of Yukon announced that, in consultation with federal and provincial counterparts, it had created a non-exhaustive list of essential services and functions to support continuing operations. At this time, Yukon has not yet ordered that all non-essential services close. To help you determine whether your business is considered essential or not, please see the list available on the government’s website

For up-to-date information on which businesses Yukon has declared must close, please see pages 8-9 of the current Civil Emergency Measures Health Protection (COVID-19) order

For additional information, Yukon has also developed a document detailing directions and guidelines for the delivery of critical, essential and other services. The purpose of the document is to help workers, businesses and government make continuity decisions and plan their service delivery while still following orders made under the Civil Emergency Measures Act. You can find the document here on the government’s website.  
 

FAQ on COVID-19

We’re dedicated to supporting your business through this difficult time by compiling answers to the most common COVID-19 questions and keeping you up to date on the latest relief measures from the all levels of government. Visit our Small Business Help Center to learn more.