Adequate screening, wearing face coverings and proper physical distancing: those were among the top rules that Ministry of Labour inspectors caught businesses breaking over the last couple of weekends.

This past weekend, the ministry's big box blitz came to Waterloo Region, resulting in 12 tickets.

Locally, they inspected 119 stores. Along with the 12 tickets, there were also 19 health and safety orders issued.

In an interview with CTV Kitchener on Monday morning, Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton said the most concerning thing was that the region's compliance rate was only about 55 per cent.

Stores in Toronto had a combined rate of about 71 per cent, while Hamilton's compliance rate was around half.

In Waterloo Region, however, only 55 per cent of stores that inspectors visited were doing everything required. The compliance rate includes warnings as well as the aforementioned tickets.

McNaughton put it simply: these numbers are not good enough.

"There's no excuse," he said.

"Every business out there knows, every manager and supervisor out there should know exactly what they need to be doing. We've been at this for a year now."

He said that the Ministry of Labour has put up more than 200 resources for businesses, including posters and tip sheets in multiple languages.

The province defines big box stores at Costcos, Walmarts and other grocery stores, but said they're also looking at independent grocery stores, gas stations, convenience stores, discount stores that sell food and restaurants offering takeout.

McNaughton said all 12 tickets were issued at big box stores and could include fines of up to $1,000.

"Not good enough," he said. "But, the good news is, this was our second time through Toronto and Hamilton and we actually did see more improvement the second time through, so we are cautiously optimistic."

Across the province, inspectors visited 517 businesses and found contraventions 2019 times. There were 52 orders and 55 tickets issued across the province, along with 114 formal warnings.