Summer is synonymous with yard and garage sales in Haliburton County. However, with COVID-19, both sellers and buyers have been wondering if they are allowed, and, if so, what the rules and regulations around them are.

With The Painted Porch in Carnarvon closing to make way for a new business, Elegant Events, Cynthia Kocot said with Stage 3 of provincial reopenings, they were intent on holding a sale over the Civic Holiday weekend.

Kocot said they just made sure to move everything outside and space it out. In addition, Kocot estimated 90 per cent of bargain hunters had worn masks.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit says it’s now okay to organize and advertise yard and garage sales.

Manager of health protection with the health unit, Richard Ovcharovich, said they are allowed under Ontario’s Stage 3 reopening plan.

However, he cautioned, “like anything during the current pandemic, the health unit encourages organizers and attendees to take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.”

“If you have any concerns about your health or potential exposure to the coronavirus, you may want to hold off on organizing garage sales at this time,” Ovcharovich said.

He said that if you decide to go ahead with a garage sale, take COVID-19 precautions.

Here is what to do if you plan to organize one:

• If you or anyone in your home is feeling ill, do not go ahead with organizing the sale.

• If selling clothes at the sale, ensure they are well-laundered first.

• Be aware of the limits on large gatherings currently in place during COVID-19 – 100 people for outdoor gatherings and 50 people for indoor gatherings. Keep an eye on the number of people attending the sale, and stagger the number of people coming and going to allow for physical distancing, especially if the sales area is small.

• Encourage attendees to practise physical distancing as much as possible. Remind them to stay two metres (six feet) apart.

• Space out sales items and tables to allow for/accommodate physical distancing.

• Consider holding a sale outside on your driveway or in your garage, never in your home. It is safer to hold sales in outdoor or well-ventilated areas.

• Have hand sanitizer available for people to use.

• Ask people not to attend the sale if they are feeling sick or have symptoms of COVID-19.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water (or hand sanitizer if soap/water is unavailable).

For people thinking of visiting a garage sale, the health unit advises:

• Stay home if sick.

• Avoid unnecessary handling of items.

• Maintain physical distancing as much as possible at sales.

• Wash hands with soap and water after attending a sale, or use hand sanitizer if soap/water is not available.

• Practise proper respiratory etiquette. Cover your cough and sneeze into your sleeve

• Consider wearing a cloth mask or face covering to sales, especially when physical distancing is difficult.

• Clean and disinfect any items you purchase and wash hands after handling any goods. Avoid buying items that are difficult to clean.

Ovcharovich added that when holding a garage sale, also be aware of other safety considerations. For instance, baby walkers, infant self-feeding devices and other items are banned products in Canada. There are also common second-hand items such as car seats, cribs, helmets, playpens, strollers, children’s jewellery and kids’ sleepwear that must meet certain federal regulatory requirements before they can be bought or sold in Canada.

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