During his press briefing on April 28, 2020, Premier François Legault announced the gradual resumption of activities in certain economic sectors during the month of May.
With this announcement, the Premier confirmed that three major types of businesses will be able to reopen as early as next month, according to the following schedule:
- retail: stores with an outside access door, and their suppliers, beginning on May 4, 2020 (all regions) and May 11, 2020 (Montréal Metropolitan Community);
- non-residential construction: May 11, 2020;
- manufacturing companies (with restrictions): May 11, 2020;a maximum of 50 regular employees + 50% of surplus employees per shift will have to be respected;
- manufacturing firms (100% of employees): May 25, 2020.
Before reopening, all employers are required to ensure that the appropriate measures to protect the health and safety of all are in place. In order to assist them, the CNESST has published a Guide to Occupational Health Standards – COVID-19 (available in French only).
Retail and retail suppliers
For the retail sector, the reopening in all regions of Québec will be possible as of May 4, 2020, except for the Montréal Metropolitan Community, whose reopening date will be May 11, 2020.
Businesses in the retail supply chain will also be able to resume operations on the same dates. The protective measures put in place should be aimed at both employees and customers.
It is important to note that only businesses with an outside access door are covered by this announcement.
The manufacturing sector
In this sector, the resumption of activities will take place in stages. Initially, all manufacturing companies will be able to reopen as of May 11, 2020. However, manufacturing companies will have to comply with the following rule: a maximum of 50 regular employees + 50% of surplus employees per shift must be respected.
For example, a company with 300 employees will be limited to a maximum of 175 employees per shift.
As of May 25, 2020, the manufacturing sector will be able to put all its employees back to work.
The construction sector
As of May 11, the entire construction sector will be able to resume operations, including public transit and road construction sites, residential, institutional, commercial and industrial construction, as well as the supply chains for the entire industry.
In its COVID-19 GUIDE—Construction Sites (available in French only), the CNESST lists a range of preventive measures that must be in place to protect the health of workers. According to this guide, employers in the construction sector will be required to, among other things:
- check the health of each of its workers when they arrive on site, on a daily basis;
- do everything possible to plan the work in such a way as to maintain a distance of 2 metres between workers;
- implement a range of hygiene measures (e.g. toilets on worksites, flush toilets and washbasins for worksites with 25 or more workers, soap and hand dryer or paper towels);
- keep the dining room clean.
Additional resources for employers
To assist employers in this upcoming recovery, the CNESST has updated its entire COVID-19 Toolkit1, which contains additional guides and tools for each of the three sectors covered by this announcement.
In order to minimize the spread of the virus, employees in all sectors who are still able to work remotely, such as employees performing administrative tasks, will have to continue to work remotely.
The announcement of the reopening of certain economic sectors is very positive for the recovery of our economy. However, the success of this measure and the subsequent reopening of other economic sectors will depend mainly on how the situation develops. Therefore, all the measures necessary for the smooth running of this recovery must be put in place and respected by all stakeholders.