Advice for essential retailers during COVID-19 pandemic

Essential retailers are providing critical services in their communities by ensuring safe and reliable access to food, supplies and other provisions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for these retailers to implement appropriate public health measures and to adjust their operations to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19 among their workers and customers.

Below is advice for essential retailers, such as grocers, based on existing advice available here: Preventing COVID-19 in the workplace: employers, employees and essential service workers and Risk-informed decision-making guidelines for workplaces and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) provides additional advice for retailers on their website.

As new evidence emerges, advice for specific sectors will also continue to evolve. It is important to assess which specific public health measures are appropriate according to the needs of individual settings. Advice or orders from your local or regional Public Health Authority should be prioritized.

To prevent and limit the spread of COVID-19 in their workplaces, employers can:

Discourage people who are ill from entering the workplace/business

Promote and support the adoption of healthy practices

Modify service delivery approach and work flow to support physical distancing

Enhance environmental cleaning and disinfecting

Support the mental health and workplace wellness of essential workers

To prevent and limit the spread of COVID-19 in their workplaces, workers can:


The Public Health Measures (PHM) technical guidance is developed and approved in collaboration with federal, provincial and territorial partners, via the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and/or the Special Advisory Committee (SAC). In its guidance development process, PHM also works closely with: multilateral partners; other government departments; First Nations, Inuit and Métis stakeholders (through the Public Health Working Group on Remote and Isolated Communities); Sex and Gender-based Analysis (SGBA) experts at Public Health Agency of Canada; and other external stakeholders with a vested interest or a stake in the guidance.

This guideline was prepared by:  Fanie Lalonde and Kelsey Young

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