Your business and COVID-19 in Quebec
Public health measures & restrictions
Return to work for businesses
All businesses are required to have employees work from home when they do not need to be physically present in the facility. However, beginning February 28, 2022, employers may allow a gradual return in a hybrid mode.
Use our Telework Policy; you will find it in the Resource Library in the Member Portal.
Contact our Business Advisors at 1-833-568-2342
COVID-19 vaccination passport
The vaccination passport is a free, official document which certifies that individuals aged 13 and up are adequately protected from COVID-19 (or have a clinical contraindication to COVID-19 vaccination) and allows them to access certain locations with a high transmission risk.
Activities and places subject to the vaccination passport:
The vaccine passport was normally used in certain high-risk or high-traffic locations and activities. As of February 21, 2022, the vaccine passport will no longer be required in places of worship and at funerals. As of March 14, 2022, passports will no longer be required for all locations and activities normally covered. Requirements remain for international travel and federally designated places and activities.
To see all the places and activities covered by this measure until March 14, 2022, please refer to this complete list of places that require that vaccination passport.
How the vaccination passport works:
Citizens need to present their proof of vaccination which contains a QR code indicating their level of protection at places where the vaccination passport is required. The QR code can be presented in paper format, PDF (on a mobile device) or through the VaxiCode app.
You will also need to present photo ID to validate your identity (this applies to all proof formats).
The vaccination passport displays an "Adequately Protected" status in green when adequately protected individuals submit their proof of vaccination.
If you are not adequately protected according to the vaccination passport criteria, you will receive a red "Not adequately protected" status when you submit your proof of vaccination.
Quebec residents who have been vaccinated elsewhere in Quebec can make an appointment to register their doses with the Quebec vaccination registry and receive their proof of vaccination.
Instructions for people travelling in Quebec:
People travelling to Quebec must present photo ID (with an address outside of Quebec) and their proof of vaccination or the vaccination passport provided by their country or Canadian province.
The VaxiCode and VaxiCode Verif applications:
VaxiCode, the app for the general public, allows citizens to download the proof of vaccination containing the QR code and store this code in a virtual wallet. Citizens can also present their QR code in paper or PDF format.
VaxiCode Verif is an application for businesses that reads QR codes and shows the COVID-19 protection status of each person. This status, which is displayed in green or red, will determine if the person has access to the location. The only information that will appear on the app is the person's name.
QR code in paper or PDF format:
For paper and PDF formats, you will be able to use the QR code received via email or text when you received your last vaccine dose.
For those who do not have access to a printer or internet, you can request your proof of vaccination in paper format by calling the following number: 1 877 644-4545
For more information on the vaccine passport, please refer to the government’s page.
Measures in effect for businesses from February 21 to March 14, 2022
Until February 20:
- Occupancy limit (1 customer per 20 m2 of floor space).
Starting February 21:
- End of occupancy capacity limit
Rules for restaurants
- As of January 31, restaurant dining rooms are reopened. On February 8, the government announced a schedule to remove all restrictions. Here are the rules to respect during each period.
January 31 - February 11:
- Maximum 4 people per table (or occupants of 2 residences).
- Closes at midnight (food and beverage sales end at 11:00 p.m.).
- Vaccination passport required.
- Distance of 1 m between tables.
- 50% capacity limit inside.
- No capacity limit outside.
- The same rules apply, but the maximum number of people per table increases to 10 (or occupants of 3 residences)
February 28 - March 13:
- Same rules apply, but dining halls may be open until 1:00 a.m. (end of food/beverage sales at midnight)
Starting March 14:
- No capacity limit
- Back to regular business hours
- Dancing and karaoke allowed
Measures in effect for bars, taverns, and casinos
As of February 28, 2022, bars, taverns and casinos will be allowed to open under the following conditions:
- Maximum of 10 people per table; or residents of 3 different homes;
- Your seating capacity must be maintained at 50%;
- Customers must remain seated
Starting March 14:
- Vaccine passport still required
- No capacity limit
- Back to regular business hours
- Dancing and karaoke allowed
Measures in effect for other sectors
Until February 13:
Public events (cinemas, events, shows, sports events):
- Vaccine passport required
- Indoor: 50% of capacity, not to exceed 500 people
- Outdoor: limit of 1000 people
Sports and Recreation (Gyms):
- For those under 21 years of age: sports and recreation activities permitted with a maximum of 25 people
- For adults: sports and leisure activities permitted alone, in pairs or between occupants of the same private residence
- Vaccine passport required
As of March 14:
- No vaccination passport required and no capacity limit.
If your sector is not represented in the information above, please visit the official government page regarding the measures in force.
Rapid testing in the workplace
Your business could have access to rapid testing in Quebec, but there are rules.
The ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS) will provide the rapid tests to eligible companies for free. Employers will be responsible for obtaining free and informed consent from individual employees.
The MSSS will be the main provider to eligible SMEs.
All companies and community organizations who have staff working in Quebec who cannot do telework because of the nature of their work.
What is required?
To administer rapid tests, your business must:
- have a person within the company who has completed the MSSS training on the use of rapid antigen tests and biosecurity
- obtain free and informed consent from their staff
- put infection prevention and control measures in place
- manage test results and follow-up
- accept the conditions of use
How can I submit a request?
To the MSSS, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more details, see the Procedure for submitting a request for tests on the government’s website.
Personal protective equipment
What is a medical mask?
A medical mask, also called a surgical or procedure mask, is the type of mask commonly used in health settings. They are designed with several layers of material to protect staff from exposure to blood, body fluids, etc. Consequently, they are more effective than fabric masks (or handmade masks). Medical masks are usually flat, pre-molded or with folds, and attach behind the ears by means of elastic bands. Masks of this type come in a wide variety. Currently, there are no standards for monitoring their quality.
What is a physical barrier?
Physical barriers are usually made of a rigid, transparent material that is installed between customers (e.g., a plexiglass barrier mounted on a checkout counter). Barriers can also be made of a flexible, transparent material or of any other material, transparent or not.
What is eye protection?
Protective eye equipment must form a barrier against side splashes and direct sprays. It needs to be adjusted around the face, covering it from the eyebrows to the cheeks and from the nose to the side of the face. Safety glasses or visors are normally used to provide eye protection.
What PPE is required for workers?
The CNESST requires that medical masks be worn at all times in workplaces. Such masks are also required for outdoor work, if employees can’t avoid staying 2m apart.
Medical masks AND protective eyewear are required if employees will be within 2m of customers, without any physical barriers (e.g. plexiglass).
These requirements do not change public health rules surrounding mask-wearing in public.
Can wearing eyeglasses, with or without side shields, be considered eye protection?
Eyeglasses are not acceptable as PPE.
As for side shields, the CNESST says they can be worn with prescription glasses as long as there is no direct trajectory for projections (droplets) to hit the eyes and the glasses are big enough to cover the eyes. If that is the case, prescription glasses with side shields are acceptable.
The CNESST adds that employers must analyze the risks relating to the tasks that workers concerned have to perform. For example, a person in a lying position could receive a direct projection to the eyes. The analysis must be done on a case-by-case basis.
Can a fabric mask be substituted for a medical mask?
No. Fabric masks cannot be substituted for medical masks in the workplace. Their effectiveness has been shown to vary enormously, and they are not sufficient for protecting workers. However, if the two-metre physical distancing rule is observed and there is a physical barrier, the CNESST does not prevent wearing fabric masks in the workplace.
Is it acceptable to wear just a visor?
The Institut national de la santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) has shown that wearing only a visor does not provide adequate protection against exposure to or transmission of the virus. The CNESST might authorize wearing a visor alone but only as a last resort. An example would be when a mask causes the eye protection equipment to fog up and this problem cannot be remedied. As mentioned above, if the two-metre physical distancing rule is observed or if there is a physical barrier, it is acceptable to wear just a visor.
Do my employees really have to wear N-95 masks on my business premises?
No. A procedure mask and eye protection are usually enough. Only certain workers such as those in the health field are required to wear N-95 masks.
Some media reported that the CNESST had mandated that all store employees wear N-95 masks. CNESST quickly corrected this misstatement in a press release.
Who must provide employees with personal protection equipment?
It is your, the employer’s, responsibility to provide PPE.
How many masks should I provide to my employees? How often should a mask be changed?
The CNESST recommends changing a procedure mask as soon as it is wet, visibly soiled, damaged or when breathing is difficult. It also recommends wearing a procedure mask for no more than four hours.
It is strongly recommended that you provide each employee with a mask for each consecutive four-hour work period. For example, employers will need to supply each employee with two masks for an eight-hour shift.
If I have installed a plexiglass-type barrier between my clients and my employees, do my employees still have to wear procedure masks and visors?
When physical distancing is observed or there is a physical barrier, the CNESST does not require the wearing of a mask and visor. However, if employees behind the barrier cannot observe physical distancing at all times, they will be required to wear procedure masks and eye protection.
Your managerial rights also allow you to require the wearing of masks even when it is not necessary. Such rights involve your own internal rules that your employees need to follow, unless they are prevented from doing so by a medical condition.
One of my employees claims to have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask. Do I have the right to demand a medical certificate?
Yes, but it is not recommended to go to hospitals or medical clinics right now, especially if someone is not sick. If you require a medical certificate from a salaried employee, know that the related costs can represent fees to your business operations and payroll.
Some of my employees object to wearing masks and don’t want to comply with the health guidelines issued by the CNESST. What am I supposed to do?
As an employer, you are obligated to ensure a safe and healthy workplace for your employees. Your employees also have an obligation to ensure their health and safety as well as that of their colleagues. If they refuse to comply with the rules prescribed by the CNESST, you will have to discipline them. Depending on the situation, it may also be possible to bar them from entering the workplace.
Do delivery people also have to wear personal protective equipment when they deliver goods to my company?
Although they are not your employees, delivery people are still workers and are subject to the CNESST health guidelines. This means that if the two-metre distance cannot be observed and there is no physical barrier, they will absolutely have to wear surgical masks and eye protection.
Do I need a vaccination policy?
It may be possible to put a vaccination policy in place, or to make being vaccinated a condition of employment; however, it is important that accommodations are made for employees who cannot be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons. It is worth noting that terminating an employee for not getting the vaccine could lead to a claim of unfair dismissal.
Before implementing a mandatory vaccination policy, consider the following:
- Does the workplace serve a vulnerable population?
- What is the nature and duration of the employee’s contact with that population?
- Assess risk for different positions – you may want to avoid an all-employee blanket policy.
- Ensure the policy is clear and employees understand consequences for non-compliance.
It is strongly recommended you consult with legal counsel to evaluate the risk of a mandatory vaccination policy in your workplace.
CFIB has a template vaccination policy available to members in our Resource Library. Please note: due to the legal implications, our Advisors are not in a position to help customize this template. To customize it, you should speak with a lawyer.
Managing the public and my business
If physical distancing is observed or a physical barrier separates my employees from the customers, do customers still have to wear masks?
Yes. Members of the public are required to wear masks or face coverings at all times in closed or partially enclosed public places. However, customers are not subject to any restrictions as to the type of mask and are free to wear either a fabric or procedure mask.
How can I validate which people are not required to wear a mask (i.e. those exempted by Santé publique)?
You can ask the person whether they are not wearing a mask because of a medical condition. However, you do not have to ask about the nature of any such condition or request a medical certificate. This is not your responsibility.
To find best practices for protecting customers in your food establishment, you can read this advisory from the Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ).
To help you get the facts right on mandatory mask wearing in Quebec, you can watch our webinar featuring CNESST and Public Health (French).
Loan or loan guarantee
To help businesses whose cash flow is affected by the impact of COVID-19, the government has implemented the Emergency Assistance for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (COVID-19) and the Concerted Temporary Action Program for Businesses.
The first program provides a maximum of $50,000 in emergency financing and the second offers a minimum of $50,000.
In both cases, the financing is in the form of a loan or a loan guarantee.
*UPDATE* You could have until March 31, 2022, to start making capital and interest payments on your PAUPME or PACTE loan. Check with your loan administrator.
Who is eligible?
Businesses and collective promoters, including:
- Businesses of all sectors
Eligible companies must:
- Have been in operation in Québec for at least 6 months
- Be temporarily closed, likely to close or showing signs of closure
- Be at a stage of maintaining, consolidating or relaunching their operations
- Demonstrate a causal link between their financial or operational hardship and the COVID-19 pandemic
How do I apply for the Emergency Assistance for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses?
Contact your regional county municipality (RCM), your municipal office or the authority that manages the Local Investment Fund in your RCM. A contact list is available on the program’s webpage.
How do I apply for the Concerted temporary action program for businesses?
Contact your account or project manager directly if you are a client of Investissement Québec. If you are not already a client, get in touch with your financial institution, which will then contact Investissement Québec.
Help for businesses forced to close under decree
The Emergency Assistance for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses program is a measure that allows eligible businesses to apply for a loan forgiveness to pay their fixed costs. The loan forgiveness can reach 100% of the monthly fixed costs up to a maximum of $15,000 per month, not to exceed 80% of the loan amount.
AERAM is a component of the Emergency Assistance for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses program (PAUPME) and the Concerted Temporary Action Program for Businesses (PACTE). So to take advantage of AERAM, you must first apply for and obtain a loan under the PAUPME or PACTE programs. You can learn more about these programs in the “Loan or loan guarantee” section of this page.
Note: You can only apply for the AERAM to cover fixed costs incurred since December 20, 2021. It can be applied for up to 4 weeks after the business resumes operations.
Restaurants that receive AERAM are eligible for additional loan forgiveness for expenditures on unused perishable items made between December 15 and December 30, 2021. This assistance is up to $10,000 in addition to the loan forgiveness provided for fixed costs.
Once your loan application has been accepted, you can apply for loan forgiveness to cover the following core operating costs if they were paid during the targeted closure period:
- Municipal and school taxes
- Rent (the part not covered by another government program)
- Interest on a mortgage
- Utility costs (e.g., electricity, gas)
- Telecommunication costs
- Association fees and licenses
To be eligible to the loan forgiveness, your business must:
- Be covered by a public health closure order related to COVID-19
- Have partially or completely closed, in compliance with an order-in-Council or a ministerial order, as a whole or in part.
How to apply?
To apply under the Emergency Assistance for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses program, you need to contact your RCM.
For applications made through the Concerted Temporary Action Program for Businesses, you must contact your Investissement Québec account manager or your financial institution.
Tip: Budget the fixed costs of your business every month to make sure you apply for the appropriate loan amount.
Financière agricole du Québec
- Emergency On-Farm Support Fund
- Financial support to help farm business take measures to safeguard their employees from COVID-19.
- It reimburses a portion of eligible expenses incurred between March 15, 2020, and March 13, 2021.
- Your application must be submitted no later than February 26, 2021.
- You can receive an interim payment of 75% of the Agristability Program benefits.
- To apply, please contact the Financial Information Collection and Processing Team.
- You might be eligible to receive a six-month moratorium on loan repayments.
- You can request interim AgriStability payments to receive this support quickly.
To help businesses re-open or stay open, 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.
It also announced various relief measures for workers. These measures, which came into effect on March 20, 2020, and will continue until further notice, include:
- If you receive the federal wage subsidy, you are not required to pay insurance premiums to the CNESST for the weeks when your employees do not work. If you have paid the premium on wages that are now exempt, an adjustment will be made when you submit your 2020 Statement of Wages.
- The CNESST will tolerate longer delays for filing complaints-related documents.
- It will only deliver statements of offence for serious incidents, like a serious accident or a death.
- Judgments will only be enforced in case of “force majeure.”
- Formal notices will also be sent in case of “force majeure”
Caisse de dépôt
The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) announced that it is making approximately $4 billion available to support Quebec businesses whose operations are temporarily disrupted by COVID-19.
These funds are intended to meet the cash needs of companies that fulfil specific criteria. Under these criteria, a company must:
- Seek financing of over $5 million.
- Have been profitable before the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Have a promising growth outlook in its industry sector.
To apply for funding, you will need to complete the required form.
Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux
Any expiring permit, license or authorization will be renewed automatically or will remain in effect.
The normal deadlines have been suspended for:
- Applying for or renewing a permit or license
- Applying for the renewal of an authorization
- Paying expenses or fees
- Making representations
When the situation returns to normal, the Régie will inform the affected licensees of the procedure they will need to follow with respect to paying or renewing their fees.
Other measures are in place for meeting permits, liquor licences, bingo, draws, publicity contests, amusement machines, combat sports, horse racing and liquor manufacturer licenses. You can find full details on the Régie's website (French only).
Support for the tourism industry
To learn more about the different support measures for the tourism industry in Quebec, visit this page on the government’s website (French only).