The B.C. government revealed details Wednesday about its plan to ease pandemic restrictions and reopen the economy, following a steady decline of new COVID-19 cases in B.C.
The plan includes guidance for retail stores to reopen around mid-May under enhanced protocols. Most stores in B.C. were not legally required to close, but many chose to do so voluntarily.
According to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, retailers need to consider the following measures when they welcome customers back:
- Install physical Plexiglas barriers between checkouts;
- Reduce line-ups by keeping a higher number of checkouts open;
- Increase or continue to encourage online shopping, deliveries, and/or pickups to reduce in-store visits;
- Increase shopping hours to spread out the number of customers in-store at any one time;
- Encourage or require customers to wear non-medical masks while shopping;
- Create messaging to inform customers not to shop if they have symptoms; and
- Routine screening or questions to check customers for symptoms.
Along with measures specific to the retail sectors, the province says retailers need to consider core principles such as frequent cleaning of “high-touch” areas and making accommodations for higher-risk groups such as seniors and those with underlying medical conditions.
Restrictions on large gatherings of more than 50 people do not apply to large box stores, grocery stores, or malls.
Other core principles for the workplace include managing interactions in shared areas such as kitchens, staff rooms, and canteens.
The province says WorkSafeBC will work with employers and workers through educational materials, consultation, and workplace inspections to help them restart safely.
Businesses will also need to have clear policies to keep workers with symptoms away from the workplace.