This week, several provinces announced the details of their reopening plans, with many opting for a phased approach to lifting public health measures. Learn more about the details of each province’s reopening plans, and what your business can do to prepare!
Alberta’s Restrictions Exemption Program (REP) which required individuals to show proof of vaccination to enter participating businesses ended on Tuesday, February 8. This means Albertans no longer need to provide their QR code to dine in restaurants or sit at entertainment venues.
Capacity limits were also lifted for smaller venues with a capacity of less than 500. People are permitted to eat and drink in venues as long as they remain seated. Larger venues with a capacity of 500 to 1,000 still need to limit capacity to 500 people, while venues with a capacity of 1,000 people and over can operate at 50 percent capacity.
The province also announced a 3-Step approach to easing other public health measures.
Step 1 - Monday, February 14
- Children 12 and under are exempt from mask requirements
- Mask requirements lifted in schools for students of all ages
Step 2 - Tuesday, March 1 (effective as long as hospitalization rates continue to trend down)
- Capacity limits lifted for all venues
- Social gathering limits removed
- Mask mandate in the province removed
- Screening prior to youth activities is no longer required
- Remaining school requirements in the province removed
- Mandatory work-from-home requirements removed
Step 3 - Timing to be determined by hospitalization rates
- Measures implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19 removed in continuing care facilities
- Isolation will become a recommendation, not mandatory
The province’s vaccine passport policy will end on Monday, February 14. This permits restaurants, bars and other businesses and public venues to no longer require proof of vaccination or a negative test to allow entry.
Mandatory masking in indoor public spaces and mandatory self-isolation if you’ve contracted COVID-19 will remain in place until the province’s latest public health order expires at the end of the month.
Manitoba will ease further restrictions next week and plans to lift proof of vaccination requirements on March 1.
Tuesday, February 15
- Masks are still required in all indoor public spaces
- Restaurants, licensed premises and food courts can operate without capacity limits
- Restrictions on table sizes and the requirement to remain seated are removed
- Liquor sales can return to normal hours of operation
- Casinos, bingo halls, movie theatres, concerts halls, outdoor public gatherings, retail stores, markets, museums, galleries, gyms and fitness centres can operate without capacity limits
- Indoor public gatherings such as weddings and funerals can operate without restrictions when all attendees 12 years old and older are fully vaccinated
- Indoor public gatherings such as weddings and funerals can host up to 50 people if any attendees 12 years old and older are not fully vaccinated
All restrictions, including mandatory masking, are planned to end on March 15.
Quebec plans to lift most public health restrictions by mid-March, although mandatory masking and proof of vaccination will stay in place. The details of the province’s reopening plans are as follows:
Saturday, February 12
- Restaurants are permitted to seat a maximum of 10 people per table
- Individuals can host home gatherings without restrictions, although public health recommends limiting them to 10 people at most, or three households
Monday, February 14
- Receptions for outdoor performances can have up to 5,000 people
- Gyms and spas can reopen
- Organized sports matches such as hockey can resume, although tournaments are not permitted until February 28
Monday, February 21
- All retail businesses permitted to reopen and operate at full capacity
- Places of worship can operate at 50 percent capacity, with a maximum of 500 people
Monday, February 28
- Large venues such as Montreal’s Bell Centre can operate at 50 percent capacity
- Sports arenas and auditoriums that accommodate fewer than 10,000 people can operate at full capacity and must apply health protocols when allowing more than 1,000 people
- Bars and casinos are permitted to reopen and operate at 50 percent capacity; alcohol service must end at midnight and the establishment must close at 1 am; dancing and karaoke are not permitted
- Restaurants must end food and beverage service at midnight and close at 1 am
- Cinemas can operate at full capacity
- Working from home will no longer be mandatory
Monday, March 14
- Restaurants, bars, taverns and large venues can operate at full capacity
- Dancing and karaoke are permitted
The province will move to Alert Level 1 on Friday, February 18 at 11:59 pm:
- Masks are still mandatory in all indoor public spaces and outdoor public spaces where physical distancing can’t be maintained
- Restaurants, entertainment centres and gyms can operate at full capacity with proof of vaccination requirements in place
- Customers must remain seated at restaurants, and physical distancing is no longer required at entertainment centres or gyms
- Retail businesses can operate at full capacity, with physical distancing measures in place
- Household gatherings are permitted for up to a maximum of 20 people, while informal outdoor gatherings are permitted for up to 50 people; households are no longer required to have a steady number of contacts
- Faith venues that do not require proof of vaccination must still operate at 50 percent capacity, implement physical distancing measures and collect names of attendees by row or have an assigned seating plan — and singing in places of worship is now permitted
- Spas and salons must require proof of vaccination or maintain physical distancing between customers
Nova Scotia has announced a 3-Phase approach to reopening, with timelines dependent on epidemiology, hospitalizations, case activity in long-term care facilities and employee absenteeism. Mandatory masking in indoor public spaces and proof of full vaccination will still be required for discretionary activities, and may still be required for Phase 3 depending on the epidemiology.
Phase 1 - Monday, February 14
- Weddings, funerals and faith services are permitted to resume; informal events are permitted for up to 25 people while indoor and outdoor formal gatherings are permitted for up to 50 percent of the venue capacity
- Sports, arts and culture events are permitted for up to 60 people
- Retail stores can operate at full capacity
- Gyms can open at 75 percent capacity
- Residents in long-term care homes are permitted to have two visitors at a time, and those visitors no longer need to be the same two people; visitors must continue to wear masks and be fully vaccinated except for end-of-life visits
Gathering limits will further be loosed in Phase 2, and fully lifted with no physical distancing requirements in Phase 3.
Prince Edward Island
P.E.I will also be implementing a gradual reopening for the province in this 3-Step phased approach:
Step 1 - Thursday, February 17
- P.E.I Vax Pass still in effect
- Restaurants, retail, fitness facilities and other venues can operate at 50 percent capacity, with physical distancing measures in place
- Wedding receptions and dances are permitted for up to 50 people
- Organized gatherings can operate at 50 percent of the venue capacity, with physical distancing measures in place
- Personal gatherings permitted for up to 20 people
- Sports and recreation, including interprovincial games, can have up to 50 participants per day; however, big tournaments are not permitted
Step 2 - Thursday, March 17 (timing subject to change based on trends and indicators)
- Restaurants, retail and fitness facilities can operate at 75 percent capacity, with physical distancing measures in place
- Organized gatherings can operate at 75 percent of the venue capacity
- Personal gatherings are permitted for up to 20 people indoors, and 50 people outdoors
Step 3 - Thursday, April 7 (timing subject to change based on trends and indicators)
- Mandatory masking is no longer required
- P.E.I Vax Pass discontinued
- No limits on gatherings
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland will ease more public health measures starting this Saturday, February 12 with restrictions on faith-based groups loosened to allow churches that require proof of vaccination to operate at 50 percent capacity, or 25 percent capacity if not requiring the vaccine passport.
Starting Monday, February 14:
- Restaurants, bars, theatres, bingo halls and other performances spaces can operate at 50 percent capacity, with physical distancing measures in place; masks must be worn at all times when not eating or drinking
- Formal gatherings can operate at 50 percent of the venue’s capacity, while informal gatherings must remain within an individual’s 20 close contacts
- Arenas, gyms and fitness facilities can operate at 50 percent capacity, with physical distancing measures in place
- Team competitions within leagues, regions and school sports can resume; tournaments are not allowed, though single games are permitted
- If COVID-19 cases emerge within a team where mask-wearing and physical distancing are not implemented, teammates would become non-household close contacts and follow the appropriate isolation protocols
Other Provinces & Territories
Other provinces and territories continue to monitor COVID-19 trends in their area to determine when they will ease more restrictions.
- Northwest Territories has not provided additional plans to ease public health restrictions and will continue to monitor public health indicators to determine whether changes to current measures are needed.
- Ontario has noted that they are reviewing the current reopening timelines and hope to ease more restrictions for businesses soon.
- British Columbia is expected to provide more information next week about the province’s gradual process of lifting restrictions.
Prepare for reopening
Prepare your food business for your province’s reopening plan by ensuring all health and safety measures are in place and staff are trained in all protocols!
The Canadian Institute of Food Safety (CIFS) is dedicated to helping food businesses manage evolving public health measures. CIFS Members have access to our COVID-19 Information Resources that include reopening guides and cleaning checklists. One of the best ways that food businesses can help with public safety measures when operating is to follow safe food handling practices. Ensure your whole staff is properly trained in food safety with CIFS’ nationally recognized Food Handler Certification Course to help limit health and safety hazards!