Supports for businesses and critical workers
Mandatory measures are in effect provincewide. Changes include some business closures, in-person service restrictions and capacity limits. Masks are mandatory in all indoor public spaces and workplaces.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 among staff and customers, businesses should follow general and sector-specific guidance documents and implement measures to comply with public health requirements.
Businesses must take steps to protect employees and customers:
- conduct a hazard assessment to identify existing and potential hazards related to COVID-19
- understand the basic requirements of occupational health and safety (OHS) laws
- aid physical separation through barriers (Plexiglas), signage, floor markings and traffic flow controls to limit people in a space
- practice good hygiene and thorough cleaning and disinfecting using Health Canada approved hard-surface disinfectants and hand sanitizers for use against COVID-19 (search products by DIN number)
- use personal protective equipment (PPE) and wear it properly:
Businesses are subject to strict infection prevention and controls, and will be carefully monitored for compliance with public health orders.
If you have questions about how these requirements may apply to your business, please review information on alberta.ca and if it’s not there, contact the Biz Connect team.
An employee can be temporarily laid off due to COVID-19 for 180 consecutive days from the initial layoff date.
If the employee is not recalled to work after 180 consecutive days, their employment is considered to be ended, and they must receive termination pay if entitled.
Learn more about temporary layoffs.
Recall notices for returning to work
To request an employee return to work after a layoff, an employer must serve a recall notice to the employee in writing. Employees are not required to be tested for COVID-19 before they return to work.
If an employee fails to return to work within 7 days of receiving the recall notice, the employer may terminate their employment. The employee is not entitled to termination notice or termination pay in this case.
- Learn more about recall notices after temporary layoffs.
From a health and safety perspective, workers may suggest it is unsafe to return to work.
- Employees have the right to refuse dangerous work – but this usually relates to a specific task, activity or condition and does not normally allow workers to refuse to attend work.
- Employers must take steps to ensure the safety of their staff and customers, and must follow all public health orders and guidance.
For detailed information, contact:
Employees are entitled to 14 days of unpaid, job-protected leave if they are required to quarantine due to COVID-19. This leave can be taken more than once.
Family responsibility leave
Employees are entitled to unpaid, job-protected leave if they are required to:
- care for self-isolated family members
- care for children unable to attend school or child care as a result of Chief Medical Officer of Health orders related to COVID-19
This leave may be taken for as long as needed to meet family responsibilities. It can be accessed more than once between now and August 14, 2021, when this leave provision expires.
- Financial support from the federal government is available to employees required to quarantine or care for family members for reasons related to COVID-19.
Employment standards rules
- Learn more about job-protected leaves
Masks are now mandatory in all:
- indoor workplaces in the Calgary and Edmonton metro areas
- places of worship across the province
Learn more about masks and current requirements.
Businesses allowed to operate are subject to strict infection prevention and control measures, and will be carefully monitored for compliance with public health orders.
COVID-19 public health orders are enforceable by law. Albertans and Alberta businesses must follow the orders issued by the chief medical officer of health, under the Public Health Act.
If Albertans are concerned that businesses are not following public health orders, they can:
- remind the business owner or operator that not following public health orders is against the law and puts people at risk
- submit a complaint online to AHS public health inspectors
- call 1-833-415-9179 to submit a complaint by leaving a message when prompted
Complaints that require an immediate response can also be reported to your local police force through their administrative phone line. Please do not call 911.
The Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant offers up to $20,000 in funding for eligible small- and medium-sized businesses, cooperatives and non-profits to offset a portion of the impact of new public health measures or their relaunch costs. Applications will remain open until March 31, 2021.
Additional program details including eligibility criteria and how to apply can be found on the program webpage.
Additional financial support for businesses severely impacted by the pandemic and public health restrictions will be available starting in mid-April through the Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit.
Critical Worker Benefit
The Critical Worker Benefit will provide a one-time payment of $1,200 to eligible Albertans in recognition of their hard work providing care and critical services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications will remain open until March 19, 2021.
Education property tax deferral
Education property tax rates were frozen at last year’s level – reversing the 3.4% population and inflation increase added in Budget 2020.
Collection of non-residential education property tax for businesses was deferred for 6 months to September 30, or a deferral of both municipal and education property tax for a shorter time that is of equivalent benefit.
- Municipalities were expected to set education property tax rates as they normally would, but defer collection.
- Commercial landlords are encouraged to pass savings on to their tenants through reduced or deferred payments to help employers pay their employees and stay in business.
- Taxpayers can contact their municipality directly for information on their municipality’s approach to education property tax deferral or to discuss a payment schedule to pay these deferred taxes.
Tourism levy abatement
Hotels and other lodging providers are permitted to keep tourism levy amounts collected between March 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021. Providers that have already remitted amounts collected after March 1, 2020 are entitled to a refund.
WCB premium payment deferrals
Small, medium and large private sector employers can defer WCB premium payments until 2021.
- For small and medium businesses, the government will cover 50% of the 2020 premium when it is due in 2021 – saving businesses $350 million.
- Large employers will have their 2020 WCB premium payments deferred until 2021, at which time their premiums will be due.
Employers who have already paid WCB premiums in 2020 are eligible for a rebate or credit.
Federal government programs
Businesses can access supports to help with COVID-19-related challenges, including:
- avoiding layoffs, rehiring employees and creating new jobs
- accessing financial support, loans and credit
- applying for supports for self-employed individuals
Canada United Small Business Relief Fund – Helps small businesses offset the cost of expenses to open safely or adopt digital technologies to move more of their business online.
Purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE)
Small business advice
Talk to a small business strategist at Business Link for one-on-one coaching, advice and information on COVID-19 resources and supports.
To connect with a Business Link strategist:
Submit your question online or contact them directly:
Mental health resources and support
The COVID-19 pandemic can have a significant impact on mental health.
Online resources are available if you need advice on handling stressful situations.
If you need to talk, call the 24-hour help lines:
For more information, visit COVID-19 info for Albertans.
Travel restrictions and exemptions
An international travel advisory remains in effect. Non-essential travel is not recommended at this time.
Travellers returning to or entering Alberta from outside Canada are legally required to follow provincial and federal travel restrictions upon arrival, including a mandatory 14 day quarantine, unless they:
Carpooling is permitted. If you carpool, it's recommended to maintain physical distancing as much as possible, stagger seating and practice good hygiene. Anyone feeling unwell must stay home.
Preventative hygiene measures should also be followed, including:
- avoid touching your face
- wear a mask
- stay as far away from other passengers as possible
- sanitize hands when leaving the vehicle
- frequently sanitize commonly touched vehicle surfaces, such as door handles, seatbelt buckles, steering wheel, and dashboard
See guidance for taxis, limos, rideshares and commuting for more information.
What to do if someone tests positive for COVID-19 at your business
If a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 (a patron/client or an employee) is detected at a business or entity, the business or entity may be asked to close for a period of time to conduct any necessary environmental cleaning of the space, and to allow contact tracing and the public health investigation to be completed.
You will need to completely clean and disinfect your business/location. Information on best practices for disinfecting your space can be found in general relaunch guidance.
To support public health contact tracing efforts, you should collect the name and contact information of attendees (i.e., staff and patrons).
Through the contact tracing process conducted by public health officials, the investigator would determine if the case had prolonged contact with other individuals in the business/entity, staff, or anyone else at the facility.
The decision to close a business/entity or a building would be made by the Zone Medical Officer of Health in consultation with the business operator. If the case has had no prolonged contact with other areas or staff in the building, it is unlikely that a full closure would be required.
Business operators, staff members, as well as others potentially exposed to the confirmed or probable COVID-19 case should complete the COVID-19 self-assessment.
Close contacts (i.e. those that provide care, live with or have close physical contact without appropriate use of personal protective equipment, or come into direct contact with infectious body fluids) of a person who tested positive for COVID-19 are legally required to isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms.
If the close contact of a confirmed case becomes symptomatic (cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose or sore throat) during this time they must isolate for an additional 10 days from the beginning of symptom onset, or until they are feeling well, whichever takes longer.
Learn more about isolation requirements.
COVID-19 translated resources
COVID-19 resources are available in Arabic, 中文, हिंदी, 한국어, ਪੰਜਾਬੀ, Af-Soomaali, Español, Français, Tagalog, Tiếng Việt and Urdu.
Have a question?
If you have questions that are not addressed on this page, please contact the Biz Connect team.