HALIFAX -- New restrictions are in place at stores selling essential goods in Nova Scotia, but walk inside and it appears almost business as usual -- at least during a pandemic. 

Sanitizing stations are ready, staff are masked, and arrows guide your way, but no supplies have been set aside. 

"Looks like everything is available. I didn't see anything blocked off and I'm pretty happy with that," said shopper Mike Devoe, who went shopping for a frying pan.

As of Saturday, retail outlets in Nova Scotia that are open for customers can only have 25 per cent capacity and have to limit shopping to one person per house. If needed, the designated shopper can have their children or caregiver with them.

While most shoppers appeared to be alone Monday, CTV News met one couple who admitted to shopping together and said no one approached them. 

Jim Cormier with Retail Council of Canada knows enforcing the rules can be a challenge.

"The retail staff are not trained at being security guards. They are not the police," Cormier said. "If they get compliance from the customer, great. If they don't then it comes down to you could call Occupational Health and Safety with the Department of Labour. Obviously they don't have the people power to be able to come out and address the issue right away. Or you could call the police."

Stores allowed to open to customers must primarily offer essential products and services such as:

  • food
  • pharmaceutical products, medicine and medical devices
  • personal hygiene products
  • cleaning products
  • baby and child products
  • gas stations and garages
  • computer and cellphone service and repair
  • electronic and office supplies
  • hardware supplies and home appliances
  • pet and animal supplies
  • gardening supplies
  • workplace safety supplies
  • automobile purchases (by appointment only)
  • laundromats

A spokesperson with both Loblaws and Sobeys said staff are encouraging customers to only purchase essential items.

"As an essential service, we have not restricted the sale of any items in our stores," said Karen White-Boswell with Sobeys, who added they are reminding customers of the one shopper per household rule.

"We have posters in our stores that reinforce this message and we also have teammates positioned at the front of our stores to communicate this ask to customers as needed," White-Boswell said.

Other stores primarily selling items not deemed essential are limited to being open for only curb-side pickup or delivery. Some believe it's created an uneven playing field. 

"As long as you sell the essential products you are technically allowed to sell all of the items that are in your store -- essential or non-essential," Cormier said.

"It's pretty hard to enforce that, but if you're in the store already, what's the harm?" Devoe said.