Businesses Prepare for Opening Across the Country


After the COVID-19 shut down the country in March, there are now signs that pandemic is beginning to slow down. Though at different stages, provinces have begun loosening restrictions, each with its own phased-in approach to reopening.

Since the stages of the plans vary from province to province, it is essential that business owners know and follow the guidelines for their areas and their types of business to stay compliant and keep their customers and staff safe from health risks.

While many sources for this information are available, Canadian law firm McCarthy Tétrault provides its own detailed “Reopening Canada” guide for non-essential retailers, helping them to adjust their reopening plans according to official provincial guidelines.

But as a general caveat, businesses have to keep in mind that the return to the new normal definitely won’t be the old one. And not all services will resume at the start of each reopening phase.

They should also expect to conform to public health and distancing guidelines that cover everything from “the number of people in stores and restaurants to how professionals deal with close-contact situations and even how many people can attend a funeral,” Maclean’s points out in Coronavirus in Canada: Reopening plans province-by-province.”

Trying to Reopen the Economy Safely

To take the situation in Ontario as an example, the province’s approach to loosening emergency measures and allowing businesses to operate again in a staged approach is outlined in the government’s “A framework for reopening our province.”

As of June 19, all parts of the province were in Stage 2 of the plan. The businesses allowed to reopen in this stage include:

  • Outdoor dine-in services at restaurants, bars, etc.
  • Hair salons, tattoo parlours, etc.
  • Shopping malls, with food services for take-out or outdoor dining
  • Tour and guide services
  • Water recreation facilities, including swimming pools
  • Outdoor-only recreational facilities and team sport training
  • Drive-in venues for theatres and animal attractions, etc.
  • Film and television production

For the province’s retail sector, some of the workplace safety guidelines include:

  • Training everyone on COVID-19 safety measures
  • Providing hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for visitors and staff to use
  • Providing a safe place for customers to dispose of used sanitizing wipes and personal protection equipment (PPE)
  • Sanitizing the workplace thoroughly and often
  • Sanitizing surfaces and immediate areas between each transaction if possible
  • Screening workers regularly for health issues
  • Introducing more fresh air by increasing ventilation systems’ air intake or opening doors and windows
  • Considering the use of PPE (such as gloves and goggles or face shields)

At this stage of the reopening, Ontario has raised the limit of the number people allowed to gather in public spaces to 10. Retail operations must restrict the number of customers permitted in a store at one time, either by controlled admission or by taking appointments.

To keep the minimum one-meter-safe-distance rule, a retail store owner could calculate allowing in one customer per four square metres of floor space, ensuring physical distancing of two metres at all times. Traffic-flow and distancing measures could be aided by signage, flow markers and barriers.

The province is also recommending that retailers minimize or eliminate the use of cash and instead employ cashless payment systems. By allowing payments when taking orders online or by phone, or via contactless payment systems in store, businesses can stop taking dangerous at-the-door payments for in-store pick-ups, and curbside and home deliveries.

Other recommended safety measures include:

  • Finding ways to minimize contact with customers and maintain safe distance.
  • Installing barriers between customers and cashiers.
  • Disallowing reusable bags and containers.
  • Limiting the number of people working in one space.
  • Rescheduling unnecessary workplace visits (by supply-chain partners, for example).
  • Restricting the use of fitting rooms to every second fitting room, to maintain proper distancing and allowing for cleaning after use.

While the above guidelines apply to Ontario businesses, the same ground would be covered in different ways in other provinces and territories.

A Safer Way to Accept Payments

One of the cornerstones for businesses to minimize contact with customers and make store checkouts safer is to accept contactless payment methods. Rather than handling cash, customers can use this convenient tap-and-pay solution to make their purchases with their cards or the mobile wallets of their smartphones, without coming into contact with surfaces that might be contaminated with COVID-19.

Whether you need to accept payments safely in-store, online or over the phone, Payfirma is your trusted partner for setting up a system that accommodates some or all of these requirements.

Our robust end-to-end payment acceptance solutions handle authorization, settlement and funding. They allow you to accept payments by point of sale, web terminal, mobile, ecommerce, and allow for invoicing, recurring billing and integrations on one merchant platform with a single merchant number.

Contact Payfirma, [email protected] or 1 (800) 747-6883, for more information.