Articles & Media

Update on Essential Services


By McLennan Ross Labour & Employment Team

On Friday, March 27, 2020, Premier Kenney announced new restrictions on businesses accessible to the public and limited “public facing services” to “essential services”. In doing so, Alberta has not gone as far as Ontario and Quebec, which have placed limitations on what businesses may operate during the COVID-19 outbreak, whether accessible to the public or not. Alberta’s approach is largely the same as Saskatchewan, which announced similar measures on March 25.

The Government of Alberta has specifically listed types of businesses that are not allowed to continue to operate. It has also identified “essential services” that can continue to provide services at locations accessible to the public.

Workplaces that are otherwise not restricted or ordered to close can have more than 15 workers on a work site as long as they follow all public health guidelines, including physical distancing measures, mitigation strategies, and business continuity planning.

The businesses that are restricted from operating are:


Types of Prohibited Businesses


Gift, hobby, antique and specialty stores

Non-essential health and beauty care providers

Clothing stores that sell men’s, ladies’ and children’s wear as well as unisex, lingerie and maternity wear, shoes, bridal wear, jewelry and accessories

Retail stores that sell, luggage, art and framing supplies, computers and gaming equipment, toys, photos, music, books, and sporting goods

Recreation and entertainment

All public recreation facilities and private entertainment facilities

Gyms, swimming pools and arenas

Science centres, museums and art galleries

Libraries, community centres, children’s play centres and bowling alleys

Casinos, racing entertainment centres, and bingo halls

Restaurants, cafes and bars

All dine-in services are prohibited. Take-out, delivery and drive-through services are still allowed

Albertans are prohibited from attending bars and nightclubs, where law prohibits minors

Restaurants in a food court may stay open for take-out only (no seating)

Licensed facilities are permitted to deliver liquor according to the following guidelines, such as:

  • licensed restaurants and bars can sell liquor as part of their take-out and delivery services
  • delivery people are responsible for age verification
  • drivers are required to have ProServe certification, which is a requirement for workers employed in positions where liquor is provided
  • Mixed drinks cannot be provided. Liquor must be delivered in sealed, commercial containers as supplied to the restaurant or bar
  • Contact for questions: 1-800-561-4415 /

Exception: not-for-profit community kitchens, soup kitchens and religious kitchens, but risk mitigation strategies must be followed


Personal services

All close contact services, including:

  • personal services facilities
  • cosmetic enhancement services
  • wellness studios and clinics
  • non-emergency and non-critical health services
  • wellness studios


The Government’s list of essential services identifies many types of businesses in the following categories:

  • Health, medical and public health
  • Public safety and security
  • Food and shelter
  • Energy and utilities
  • Wate
  • Transportation
  • Industrial
  • Petroleum, natural gas, and coal
  • Construction
  • Agricultural and horticultural
  • Retail
  • Financial services
  • Information and telecommunications
  • Public administration and government
  • Other essential services, which includes professional services, staffing services, real estate agencies, delivery services, laundromats and dry cleaners, animal welfare, waste management, environmental services, child care for essential workers, and others.

These measures are being enforced by AHS public health inspectors.

Questions about how the essential services list may apply to your business can be directed by email to

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