Recommendations for Retailers

Waterloo Region is in Step 2 of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen. For more information please review Reopening Ontario.

Waterloo Region residents are strongly advised to continue practicing public health measures and get vaccinated to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Businesses and organizations can submit questions directly to the Ministry of Health.

Grocery and retail stores are essential in every community by ensuring safe and reliable access to food, medications, supplies and other provisions. It is critical retailers adjust how they operate to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19. The following information is a list of best practices for retailers to make sure you’re keeping your staff and customers safe when it matters most.

Step 2 requirements

  • The total number of patrons allowed indoors must be limited to the number that can maintain a physical distance of two metres at all times from any other person
  • Stores must post capacity limits publicly; this also applies to stores within malls
  • Stores/businesses must inform patrons to screen before entering (for example, posting signs outside the store front about not entering if you have COVID-19 symptoms)
    • This does not apply to indoor malls; active screening is required for customers entering the mall in accordance with instructions by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • Fitting rooms must be limited to non-adjacent stalls (i.e. every other room)
  • Owners/operators must ensure that patrons waiting outside to enter stores maintain two metres distance from each other - inside and outside. Face coverings are also required while waiting in line, indoors
  • Limit volume of music to be at a level where normal conversation is possible
  • For shopping malls:
    • Indoor shopping malls must actively screen members of the public before they enter the indoor area of the mall
    • The number of members of the public in the mall at any one time must not exceed the total capacity determined by taking the sum of the capacities for every business in the mall
    • Indoor dining areas, including any tables and seating in food courts, must be closed
    • Ensure no members of the public are loitering in any area of the mall
    • Ensure that members of the public maintain a distance of two metres when lining up inside or outside of the mall. Face coverings are required indoors
    • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request
    • Volume of music must be limited to a level where a normal conversation is possible

Best practices for infection control

  • Place hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60 percent ethyl alcohol in dispensers near doors, pay stations and other high-touch locations for customers and staff use, and making wipes and trash bins available for wiping shopping carts and disposing of the wipes.
  • In addition to routine cleaning, clean and disinfect frequently touched objects (e.g. point-of-sale transaction equipment, phones, doorknobs, carts, hand baskets, bagging areas, counters, handrails, etc.) and surfaces at least once a day and when visibly dirty with appropriate products.
  • If they can withstand the use of liquids for disinfection, frequently touched electronics such as phones, computers and other devices may be disinfected with 70 percent alcohol (e.g. alcohol prep wipes).
  • Provide clean carry-out bags for purchased food and grocery products. Encourage customers not use their own containers, reusable bags or boxes.
  • Post signs at each checkout counter that customer packaging is not to be used or placed on checkout counters.
  • Do not sell bulk items, except in gravity feed bins or where staff dispense the bulk items.
  • Remove any product sampling stations.
  • Post screening posters and ask customers who arrive with cold, influenza, or COVID-19 like symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) to return home and have a friend or family member do the shopping for them or use a delivery service instead.

Guidance for malls

  • Post screening posters and ask customers to complete the COVID-19 customer screening. Those who arrive with cold, influenza, or COVID-19 like symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) must return home and have a friend or family member do the shopping for them or use a delivery service instead.
  • Monitor the number of people inside the mall at all times and stay within current capacity limits.
  • Ensure people are physically distanced at all times and disperse any crowds in any area of the mall.
  • Have alcohol-based hand sanitizer easily available regularly throughout the mall.
  • All patrons must wear a face covering.
  • For each business inside of the mall:
    • Post a sign in a location visible to the public that states the maximum capacity
    • Limit the number of patrons that enter the business so they can maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person
    • Follow current capacity limits

Best practices for delivery

  • As much as possible, conduct sales/orders over the phone or internet.
  • Try to use other methods of payment whenever possible such as online payment.
  • Leave the package outside of the door and notify the customer over the phone or via text/email that the package has been delivered.
  • If it is not possible to pay over the internet or the phone, encourage your customers to pay by debit or credit card (tap if possible) and the delivery person should clean the machine with a disinfectant wipe and use hand sanitizer immediately after the interaction.
  • The delivery person should use hand sanitizer or wash their hands before and after each delivery.

Face coverings

  • The Face Covering By-law makes it mandatory for customers to wear face coverings in enclosed public places.
  • Clearly post Face Covering By-Law signage at all entrances (as per Region of Waterloo by-law that requires face covering in enclosed spaces).
  • The Province has also implemented further requirements to help slow the spread of COVID-19. This requires those responsible for businesses to ensure customers are wearing face coverings while in their business.

Best practices for physical distancing

  • A two-metre physical distance should be maintained between employees and customers unless there is a physical barrier (i.e. Plexiglass).
  • Have clear signs in multiple locations that indicate the maximum number of customers and staff a store can accommodate at any one time.
  • Monitor the number of customers and staff entering and leaving the store. Once the maximum number of persons for a store is reached, allow one person in for every person that leaves.
  • Ensure that two metres of physical distance is maintained for any customers lining up outside to enter your facility (i.e. place markers to indicate how far people should stand from each other)
  • Place markers on the floor at checkout aisles to ensure customers maintain a two-metre physical distance from one another. 
  • If aisles are not wide enough for customers to physically distance themselves while in the aisles, consider placing arrows to indicate that aisles are one way.
  • Close any seating or dine-in area that may be in the store.

Recommendations for vulnerable populations

  • Consider dedicating the first hour of operation for customers from vulnerable populations, for customers over 65 years old or for those with a compromised immune system.
  • Other practices for consideration include offering a pre-order/pickup/delivery model to limit interactions.

Employers

  • If an employee has recently returned from another country, they must self-isolate for 14 days; exceptions may be made for fully vaccinated individuals.
  • Screen your staff for symptoms at the beginning of each shift.
  • Staff should self-monitor daily, not only when they are coming to work.
  • Staff should stay home if they have cold, influenza, or COVID-19 like symptoms.
  • Place posters in common areas to remind staff of hand hygiene, good respiratory etiquette, maintaining physical distance, and to not touch their face.
  • Remind staff and customers to cover coughs/sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Use appropriate hand washing measures after.
  • If employees must use public transportation to come to work, consider flexible hours to allow them to avoid peak travel periods.
  • Make a plan for how employees will return home without using public transit if they develop symptoms at work.

To prevent the spread of germs and viruses all staff should

  • Before starting work and after returning from break, staff should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick when possible.
  • Stay home when they are sick.
  • Cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Wash hands afterwards.
  • In addition to routine cleaning, clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces twice a day with appropriate products.
  • If they can withstand the use of liquids for disinfection, frequently touched electronics such as phones, computers and other devices may be disinfected with 70% alcohol (e.g. alcohol prep wipes)

Glove use

Gloves are not a substitute for proper hand hygiene, as they do not guarantee that food or surface is not contaminated. Gloves should be worn when a handler has a bandage that is covering a wound. In the event that you use gloves, do so properly.

Tips for the proper use of gloves:

  • Gloves must be used in combination with handwashing.
  • Hands should always be washed and/or sanitized prior to putting on gloves and after taking gloves off.
  • Change gloves whenever you change activity, touch your face, or come into contact with an item that may have germs.
  • Gloves should be thrown out and not used again once they have been taken off.

Best practices for handling sales and curbside pick up

  • Encourage customers to stay in their cars using curb-side pick up.
  • Bring the products outside to customers picking up their order and try to maintain a two-metre physical distance. Use hand sanitizer or wash hands immediately after each interaction.
  • Let customers know what time their order will be ready and encourage them to arrive at the given time to minimize the number of customers waiting for their products at any one time.
  • As much as possible, conduct sales/orders over the phone or internet.
  • Try to use other methods of payment whenever possible such as online payment.
  • If it is not possible to pay over the internet or the phone, encourage your customers to pay by debit or credit card (tap if possible). Have one person responsible for all of these transactions and clean and sanitize all surfaces after each interaction, followed by washing their hands with soap and water.
  • Limit the handling of credit cards and loyalty cards wherever possible, by allowing customers to scan.
  • Employees who handle cash or credit cards must wash their hands frequently with soap and water. This includes before any breaks, at the end of their shift, and before preparing food.
  • If operators and employees choose to wear gloves (vinyl or nitrile; latex as a last resort as this is a common allergen), wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if water is not available) before and after putting on gloves.

Offer online or telephone orders with delivery or pick up services as alternatives to shopping in person.

Additional resources

 

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