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COVID-19: Is your business an essential service?

Several jurisdictions that had announced partial or full closures of businesses as part of their COVID-19 State of Emergency responses are beginning to release plans for reopening some sectors. 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 still continue to do so.

Please check back regularly.

Provinces where all non-essential businesses were forced to 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.

On April 30th, Newfoundland and Labrador announced its economy will reopen in four phases, with the first phase beginning on May 11, 2020.

Read Newfoundland and Labrador's plan for reopening the economy, NLife with COVID-19: A Foundation for Living with COVID-19 here.

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 order has been extended through June 2, 2020.

 

The government has announced that Phase 1 of it's economic reopening plan will begin on Tuesday, May 19th at 12:01am. Several businesses, including retail operations with street-level entrances, construction, dog groomers and cleaning services will be allowed to resume operations under health and safety guidelines. Here is a full list of Phase 1 openings.

Golf courses, marinas and private parks and campgrounds will be allowed to resume some operations on Saturday, May 16th at 12:01am.

Please note that all sectors allowed to reopen must do so under strict health and safety guidelines. You can find the guidelines for your sector here.

Have questions about reopening? Check out our Ontario FAQ and business operational plan template to help get you organized!

For information on future phases, Read the provincial plan, A Framework for Reopening our Province, here.

The province has also launched a 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. 

The government has announced that PEI's economy will reopen in four phases. Phase one begins on May 1, 2020. Phase two begins on May 22, 2020. Phase three is targeted for June 12, 2020 with Phase four TBD.

To determine when your business can reopen, check the Renew PEI Together plan.

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 unless the government had indicated otherwise. 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.

Businesses with questions about their situation and what relief measures may be available to them can call the PEI government's business line at 1-866-222-1751 or via email at [email protected]

Quebec

Quebec declared a Public Health Emergency on March 14, 2020. As of March 25, 2020 and until May 4, 2020, the Government of Québec has ordered the minimization of all non-priority services and activities.

Here is the Government of Québec's plan to reopen the economy as of May 29:

 Quebec (except for the Greater Montreal)        Greater Montreal
Retail stores with direct exterior accessStarting on May 4Starting on May 25
Manufacturing companies and their supply chain

May 11 – 50 workers + 50% of the number of remaining employees per shift

 

May 25 – no restriction on the number of employees

May 11 – 50 workers + 50% of the number of remaining employees per shift

 

May 25 – no restriction on the number of employees

Construction industry and their supply chainsMay 11May 11
Outdoor recreational sports, leisure and activities carried out individually or in pairs, without physical contactSince May 20Since May 20
Therapeutic care businesses, dental care businesses and pet grooming services Starting June 1Starting June 1
Personal care businesses and beauty sectorStarting June 1

 Starting June 15

Shopping centresStarting June 1Yet to be announced
  • In anticipation of the reopening of the economy, the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) has prepared a toolkit for employers and workers.Shopping centres will remain closed. 
  • Teleworking must continue wherever possible.

The government intends to announce the second part of its recovery plan at a later date. This part will cover shopping malls, personal care businesses, distribution centres, the cultural sector and the tourism industry.

The order requiring the Sunday closing of all businesses in May will remain in effect (with the exception of service stations, convenience stores, pharmacies, restaurants offering drive-through/telephone or delivery services, and grocery stores providing online/telephone/delivery services).

To help you determine if you have to close your business, please see the "Businesses and Workers" section and click on Priority Services and Activities.

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. 

Saskatchewan has announced a five-phase plan to reopen its economy. Phase one begins on May 4, 2020, and Phase 2 begins on May 19, 2020. The timing for remaining phases will be determined as the situation develops.

To determine where your business fits in, check the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan.

Businesses that have been ordered to close and have not yet been directed by the province to reopen should wait until they are instructed to resume operations.

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.

Non-allowable business services are prohibited from providing public-facing services. Closures are in addition to the business services that were ordered closed on March 23. Please see the linked current public health order above for details.

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.

Alberta will launch the first phase of its three-phase economic reopening plan by allowing some retailers, personal services and healthcare businesses to reopen on May 14.

To see where your business fits in, read Opening Soon: Alberta's Relaunch Strategy.

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. Additional information on restrictions to businesses in Alberta is also available on the government's page "Restrictions on businesses".

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

On April 30, 2020, the Alberta government released a phased approach to reopening Alberta’s economy while still following public health guidelines and some restrictions. Alberta’s economy will gradually reopen with Stage 1 expected to start as early as May 14. At this point there are no specific dates for Stage 2 or 3. Details on industry specifics health and safety guidelines have not been released but details are expected to be announced prior to May 14.

Read the provincial plan, Opening soon: Alberta’s relaunch strategy, here.

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 May 1.

Manitoba will take a two-plus phased approach to reopening businesses that had been forced to shut down or modify operations. Phase 1 will begin on May 4, 2020. Phase 2 will begin no earlier than June 1, 2020 with other phases to follow as the situation permits.

To determine where your business fits in, check Restoring Safe Services: Manitoba's Pandemic and Economic Roadmap for Recovery 

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. 

The Manitoba government has also announced a new service to help businesses facing economic challenges due to COVID-19 connect with support programs. In the coming days, the Manitoba-based business "24-7 Intouch" will launch a secure call centre. To request a call once the system is operational, provide your contact information at this link under "Supports for Businesses".

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.

On May 6, British Columbia announced it's four-phase plan to ease COVID-related restrictions. The province entered Phase 1 on May 15, 2020. To see where your business fits in, read BC's Restart Plan.

British Columbia has declared the following businesses must close as of March 17, 2020:

  • All businesses that cannot maintain a minimum social distance of 1-2 meters between patrons
  • Bars, pubs and nightclubs
  • Entertainment venues (theatres, concert halls, etc.)
  • Casinos

Note: Restaurants and Personal Services, which were previously ordered to close, are now allowed to operate. See BC's Restart Plan for details.

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. 

On April 24, 2020, the Government of New Brunswick announced it will reopen New Brunswick's economy in four phases. Phase one began on April 24, 2020. The start dates for the remaining stages will be decided based on meeting and maintaining certain health benchmarks.

To determine when your business can reopen, check New Brunswick's Provincial Recovery Framework.

Businesses that have been ordered to close and have not yet been directed by the province to reopen should wait until they are instructed to resume operations.

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. 

If you have questions related to your business for the Government of New Brunswick, please contact the province's Business Navigator Service by emailing [email protected]a, or calling 1-833-799-7966

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 metres
  • Businesses 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
  • Mines and oil and gas remote camps are ordered to follow a number of health and safety measures to protect against COVID-19. Please see the dedicated order from the Chief Public Health Officer for more details.

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 May 31, 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. 

 

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.