Garage sale yard sale sign with items on a table - stock photo

This Version Posted: May 8, 2020

Local Residents Strongly Discouraged from Organizing Garage/Yard Sales During COVID-19

If you’re in the middle of spring cleaning, avoid organizing a garage sale or yard sale until further notice.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit strongly discourages local residents from organizing or holding garage and yard sales during COVID-19. Having these types of sales can increase people’s exposure to COVID-19 and lead to the spread of the virus in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes.

“The nicer weather means many people may be spring cleaning and looking to sell and get rid of unwanted items,” says Lynne Franke, Manager of Organizational Initiatives with the Health Unit. “This year because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Health Unit urges you to postpone holding a garage sale. Doing so will protect you, your loved ones and your community from getting sick with COVID-19.”

While the Province’s COVID-19 emergency directives do not prohibit garage sales and yard sales, they do ban public gatherings and events of more than five people. Some Ontario municipalities have also approved bylaws to ban garage and yard sales entirely during the pandemic. Although no such bylaw bans are in place in the local Health Unit’s region, Franke says voluntarily postponing garage sales is the best advice. 

“Hosting a garage or yard sale can put you and those who attend it in harm’s way,” she adds. “Unlike stores that are required to put in safety measures to protect employees and customers, garage and yard sales do not have those precautions. There’s also the fact that the COVID-19 virus can survive on different surfaces for different lengths of time, meaning potential buyers who touch or pick up items at a sale could be exposing themselves to illness.”

The Health Unit also warns that keeping a safe two-metre (six-foot) physical distance at a garage sale is difficult, given that cash transactions are usually required and the number of people who stop by at a sale can grow unexpectedly. Many times, garage sale enthusiasts may also visit multiple sale locations increasing the risk of the spread of COVID-19. As Franke notes: “A garage sale won’t only impact your property, but can affect your neighbours creating health concerns for them as well.”

If people are eager to sell unwanted items or buy second-hand items, they may look to online portals to do so. But even there, the Health Unit is also advising caution, suggesting local residents limit any transactions to only essential items and be watchful for potential scams. If purchasing items, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water and try to arrange curbside pickup and delivery. 

People should also be aware that baby walkers, infant self-feeding devices and other items are banned products in Canada. There are also common second-hand items like 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.