Nfld. & Labrador

In unprecedented move, stores allowed to open on Good Friday — but some are taking a pass

Premier Dwight Ball says he is giving grocery stores the option to open on a statutory holiday in the hopes it will spread out the numbers of shoppers, but some big-name chains are already saying they will stay shut.

Goal is to spread out shoppers across Easter weekend

Grocery stores can open on Good Friday in Newfoundland and Labrador, but some shops are deciding not to. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

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, but some are already stating they are taking a pass. 

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 the provincial government is giving grocery stores the option to open on the statutory holiday.

He explained he hopes the unprecedented move will spread out the number of shoppers ahead of the weekend and give businesses more flexibility to manage possible large crowds. 

As of Tuesday morning, Dominion, Colemans and Costco said they would not open for Good Friday. 

"Our colleagues have been working tirelessly and proudly to support the community as an essential service," said Dominion on a Facebook post, noting its stores will have extended hours on Thursday and Saturday.

"We've decided to keep your Dominion stores closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday to give colleagues a much-needed rest and time with their families."

CBC News has emailed and called Sobeys and Walmart to ask if those stores will be open on the statutory holiday, but did not immediately get a response. 

Colemans stores will not open on Good Friday, despite the provincial government making an exemption to allow certain stores to open on the statutory holiday. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

Specifically, an exemption is being made to the Shops' Closing Act 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. 

Exceptions 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 about the use of reusable bags.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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