Stores can open on Good Friday for this year only, says Premier Dwight Ball, as the Newfoundland and Labrador government made an extraordinary move to encourage physical distancing over the long weekend.
He made the announcement at Monday’s daily COVID-19 briefing, which also disclosed that a second person has died from the highly contagious disease.
Ball said government is giving grocery stores the option to open on the statutory holiday.
He explained the reason behind the unprecedented move is he hopes it will spread out the number of shoppers ahead of the weekend and give businesses more flexibility to manage possible large crowds.
It is not immediately clear which stores will open for Good Friday.
Specifically, an exemption is being made to the Shops’ Closing Regulations for stores that are “deemed by order of the chief medical officer of health as services essential to the life, health or personal safety of individuals and animals,” according to a news release that the provincial government issued Monday afternoon.
Stores cannot force an employee to work on a public holiday, the news release said.
For those employees who do work on Good Friday, they are entitled to double pay for those hours.
Newfoundland and Labrador has ordered many businesses to close through its public health emergency legislation.
Exemptions have been made for businesses that sell food or other goods and services deemed essential, including gas, pharmaceutical products, hardware and pet food.
Ball also said the implementation of the plastic bag ban has been extended until Oct. 1, due to public health concerns surrounding the use of reusable bags.