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Buyer Beware: Garage Sales and Second-Hand Shopping During COVID-19

Yard sale hand


Issued on behalf of the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit.

Does spring cleaning have you thinking about garage sales and getting rid of unwanted items? Think again.  

Garage/Yard Sales

The Health Unit strongly discourages you from organizing or attending garage sales and yard sales at this time due to COVID-19. Organizing these sales can increase your exposure to COVID-19 and lead to the spread of the virus in the community. Here’s why: 

  • Unlike in a store where health and safety measures are in place to protect staff and customers from COVID-19, a private sale does not need to take these precautions 
  • COVID-19 is spread through close contact with people. At garage sales, keeping a two-metre (six-foot) physical distance from others is difficult given that cash transactions are often required and the number of people who stop at the sale can grow unexpectedly.  
  • Many times, garage sale enthusiasts also visit multiple sale locations in the same day increasing the risk that COVID-19 can be spread 
  • The COVID-19 virus can survive on different surfaces for varying lengths of time. This means if someone touches or picks up items at a sale, they could be exposing themselves to illness  
  • 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 
  • While no municipal restrictions on garage sales are in place in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes, some Ontario municipalities have approved bylaws to ban garage and yard sales entirely during the pandemic due to public health concerns. 

For all these reasons, do not hold garage sales or yard sales until further notice. Doing so will protect the health of you, your loved ones and the community.  

Second-Hand Items

Some online buy-and-sell groups have decided not to operate during COVID-19. For now, the Health Unit is also advising you to think twice about buying and selling second-hand items online. If you must, limit purchases to only essential items. 

Here are some more tips if you plan to buy second-hand essential items online during COVID-19: 

  • If you, or someone in your home has any symptoms of COVID-19 do not buy or sell any items.  Stay home and self isolate 
  • Stick to community-based online groups for buying and selling. Use groups or apps where it’s easier to confirm that people are who they say they are (such as linked to a personal profile of a social media account).  If in doubt, don’t engage 
  • If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for scams.  
  • Buy and sell with people that live in your community.  Avoid travel. 
  • Don’t provide your home address or visit anyone you do not know. If you do know the person, arrange for a curbside pickup or drop off. Never enter another person’s house or allow anyone to enter your home. 
  • Use digital payment services rather than cash.  
  • Drop off or pick up goods during the day and in a public location.  
  • Avoid all close contact. Practise physical distancing and stay metres (6 feet) away from others at all times.  
  • After purchasing an item, thoroughly clean and disinfect it. Avoid buying items that are difficult to clean. 
  • Don’t touch your face and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling items or cash. 

NOTE: 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.  

Additional Resources


For further information contact: Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020, or


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