The Ontario Government announced that there will be an end to mask mandates in most public places in the province starting March 21, 2022, and, according to Global News, that will include retail settings. The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) says it welcomes the announcement, applauding the fact that businesses will be able to “return to a sense of normalcy…after more than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
With that said, it will be a tough adjustment, particularly if some employees, customers, or management still don’t feel safe, are immunocompromised, or believe the lifting of the mandate is too early for other personal reasons. What’s more, after two years of social distancing and covered faces, it’s a psychological shock to go back to the “old ways.”
RCC conducted a survey of its members to get a better understanding of how they plan to handle the switch to mandatory public health requirements given that each store has different customer and employee needs.
The RCC survey found that all retailers say they will support staff if they choose to continue to wear a mask, even when not required to do so. Many retailers also plan to keep signage and messaging that indicates customers can continue to wear masks if they so choose but are no longer obligated to do so.
Many retailers also say they will continue to provide sanitizer and other health and safety tools to customers. This includes plexiglass they have already installed at cash desks. These measures will be maintained as a means of “continuing to provide added protection to their associates and customers.”
“After more than two years of responding to rapidly changing measures across the country, retailers are very experienced at implementing and adapting their stores to best address their unique operational requirements and to keep customers and employees safe,” says RCC. “At the end of the day, retailers are all about offering the best customer experience and our members are eager to see customers and staff interact as they once did.”