On December 21, 2020 the Provincial Government of Ontario filed Ontario Regulation 779/20 to govern Ontario’s most recent lockdown, also known as they THE “grey zone”.

The full regulation can be found here: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/R20779.

For essential businesses that remain open, the business must ensure that members of the public are able to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person and that the total of persons in the business of facility at any time does not exceed 50 per cent capacity. In addition, the business must comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005.

How Many People Can Be In A Essential Business?

Depending on the size of the business, the maximum number of persons permitted in a business or facility that is operating at 50% capacity is determined by taking the total square metres of floor area accessible to the public, not including shelving and store fixtures, and dividing that number by 8 (rounding the result down to the nearest whole number).

The person responsible for a place of business that engages in retail sales to the public must post a sign in a visible location to the public that states the maximum capacity they are permitted to operate under. Additionally, the business shall prepare and make available a safety plan and ensure that one is prepared and made available.

For more information on if your business is essential and can remain open during the lockdown, please contact us directly as the below information is not conclusive or intended to be legal advice.

What Businesses May Stay Open Under the Ontario Provincial Lockdown?

The following is a non-exhaustive list of some of the businesses that may stay open during the provincial lockdown, as well as the conditions to remain open.

Short Term Rentals – Only rentals to those who are in need of housing. The lockdown does not apply to those short-term accommodations that were reserved during a period when the lockdown did not apply to the area in which the accommodation is located.



Supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor farmers’ markets and other stores that primarily sell food, and pharmacies.

If a business is located within an indoor farmer’s market, it can only remain open if it is a business that primarily sells food.

Discount and Big Box Retailers may remain open only if they sell groceries to the public and the stores limit the number of persons in the place of business, so that the total number of persons in the place of business at any one time does not exceed 25% capacity (See applicable capacity guidelines above per square metre).


Restaurants, bars, food trucks, concession stands and other food or drink establishments. These businesses can only open for the purposes of providing take out, drive through, or delivery service.


Stores that sell liquor, including beer, wine and spirits, must limit the number of persons so that the total number of persons in the place of business at any one time does not exceed 25% capacity (in accordance with square metre measurement explained above).

  1. OTHER


  • Safety supply stores
  • Businesses that sell, rent or repair assistive/mobility/medical devices, aids and/or supplies
  • Optical stores that sell prescription eyewear to the public

Businesses which sell motor vehicles, recreational vehicles, trailers, watercraft, or other motorized vehicles such as golf carts, scooters and snowmobiles are permitted to remain open if the following conditions are met:

  1. Members of the public can only enter premises by appointment,
  2. Members of the public are not permitted in areas where vehicles are not sold or displayed for sale,
  • If members of the public are permitted to test drive vehicles, the test drive must be for 10 minutes or less with a maximum of two people present in the vehicle, including up to one sales representative. If the parties are not members of the same household, windows must be left open.

Rental and leasing services are also permitted to be open so long as members of the public are permitted to enter the premises by appointment only.


Outdoor markets, including farmer’s markets and holiday markets, that meet the following conditions:

  1. They primarily sell food to the public.
  2. Products must only be provided to patrons,
  3. in a manner that allows members of the public to remain in an outdoor area at all times, or
  4. through an alternative method of sale that does not require patrons to enter the indoor area, such as curbside pickup or delivery.
  1. If an area at the market is covered by a roof, canopy, tent, awning or other element, at least two full sides of the entire area must be open to the outdoors and must not be substantially blocked by any walls or other impermeable physical barriers.
  2. If an area at the market is equipped with a retractable roof and the roof is retracted, at least one full side of the area must be open to the outdoors and must not be substantially blocked by any walls or other impermeable physical barriers.