Last updated: October 12, 2021 at 6:35 p.m.

You should get tested for COVID-19 if you have one or more symptoms of COVID-19, you were a close contact of someone who has COVID-19 or you are concerned you may have been exposed to someone who might have COVID-19.

Everyone has a role to play. The actions you take will protect you, loved ones and those most vulnerable in our community.

Tips to Prevent the Spread

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed. The new COVID-19 variants of concern may spread more easily. It is more important than ever to carefully follow the public health practices outlined on this page, including:

  • Get fully vaccinated as soon as you can for the best protection against COVID-19
  • Stay two metres apart from people outside of your household, indoors and outdoors
  • Avoid the 3 Cs: closed spaces, crowded places and close contact
  • Always wear a mask indoors, and outdoors when physical distancing is difficult
  • Stay home if you are experience symptoms of COVID-19, even if symptoms are mild.
  • Read the Guide for Toronto residents for more information about what is expected
  • Download the COVID Alert app

Follow these tips to celebrate a safer Thanksgiving and help protect your family and friends from COVID-19:

For more information, see the Government of Ontario’s guidance on celebrating holidays and festive events safely this fall season.

Physical distancing means staying two metres apart from people outside of your household, either indoors or outdoors, and also avoiding the 3 Cs: closed spaces, crowded places and close contact.

Here are some ways to practise physical distancing:

  • Greet others from a safe physical distance with a smile, nod or wave.
  • Avoid non-essential trips, especially during peak times, to limit contact with large crowds.
  • When using a taxi or ride share, sit in the back seat, wear a mask and keep the windows open.
  • Wear a mask or face covering when in indoor public settings or when outdoors with people outside of your household and a two metre distance cannot be maintained.
  • Always cough or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve, even when wearing a mask or face covering and two metres apart.

Learn more about physical distancing.

Resources

Videos

 

American Sign Language (ASL) Translation

Wearing a mask in addition to physical distancing and other public health measures can reduce the spread of COVID-19. Masks should always be worn when physical distancing is difficult.

Masks are required in Public Places

The City of Toronto By-law 541-2020, as amended by By-law 664-2020, and By-law 263-2021, requires everyone to wear masks or face coverings in all indoor public settings, including common areas in apartment buildings and condominiums. The provincial government also requires that masks be worn in indoor settings under the Reopening Ontario Act. Learn more about the mandatory use of masks or face coverings.

Masks and Source Control

When we all wear a mask to cover our respiratory droplets it provides source control to reduce the spread of germs into the air and on surfaces. Some masks can also protect the wearer from infection.

Qualities of a Good Cloth Mask

  • Masks should be made of at least two layers of tightly woven fabric (such as cotton or linen), and, if possible, a middle “filter” layer. A three layer mask can provide added protection.
  • For masks with a pocket, add a disposable coffee filter, paper towel, or reusable filter cloth.
  • For masks without a pocket, cut/unstitch one end and tuck a filter in between the two layers.
  • Your mask should fit your face, covering your nose, mouth and chin without gaping.
  • Your mask should be comfortable, easy to breathe through, and not limit your vision.
  • Mask and ties/ear loops should fit securely to avoid adjusting during use.
  • Choose fabric that can support a high temperature wash (e.g. cotton). Avoid stretchy material.
  • Choose fabric that maintains the mask shape after washing and drying.

Visit the Government of Canada website for information on homemade masks.

Proper Use of a Face Mask

  • Wash or sanitize your hands before putting on and after taking off your mask.
  • Place the mask over your nose, mouth and chin without gaping.
  • Change your mask if it becomes moist or dirty.
  • Remove your mask by the ear loops without touching the front of the mask.
  • Put your used mask in a plastic bag or directly in the laundry bin to be washed.
  • Launder cloth masks with other items using the hot wash cycle and dryer.

What to Avoid When Using Masks

  • Do not share your mask with others.
  • Do not re-use disposable masks.
  • Avoid touching your face or mask when wearing it.
  • Do not wear your mask under the nose, chin or forehead, or hang it from your ear.
  • Do not put masks on children under the age of two.
  • Do not put masks on people who have trouble breathing or who cannot remove the mask without assistance.

People at Greater Risk of COVID-19

People at greater risk of COVID-19 due to work or living situations, or those who are prone to severe illness from COVID-19 should consider using a three-layer mask. Medical masks can also be used, if available.

Workplace Requirements

The Reopening Ontario Act requires mask use, including by employees, in all indoor public settings. City of Toronto By-law 541-2020 requires operators create a mask policy. Cloth masks do not replace personal protective equipment (PPE) required in workplace settings.

People Unable to Wear Masks

We need to be respectful of people who are unable to wear a mask because of their age or medical condition. For businesses and service providers, consider offering alternative service to people who are unable to wear a mask. Try curb-side pickup or offer services during off-peak hours.

Products Not Recommended

  • A face shield is not an alternative to masks as it does not protect others from your respiratory particles. A face shield may be worn with a mask as added protection for the wearer.
  • Plastic masks do not protect others from your respiratory particles and cannot be cleaned and disinfected between uses.
  • Masks with an exhaust valve can make breathing more comfortable for the person wearing it, but it can spread respiratory particles into the room.

Download this information as a PDF (also available in Amharic | Arabic | Bengali | Dari | Farsi | French | Gujarati | Pashto | Portuguese | Punjabi | Simplified Chinese | Somali | Spanish | Tamil | Urdu | Vietnamese).

Resources

Videos

American Sign Language (ASL) Translation

French Resources:

Learn more about practising good hand hygiene.

There is no evidence that COVID-19 is spread by food or food packaging. Wiping down containers or packaging is not necessary. In general, you can lower your risk of infection by following safe food handling practices.

It is important to:

  • Wash your hands before and after handling groceries, take-out bags and containers
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces after handling groceries and packaging
  • Wash reusable shopping bags
  • Wash vegetables and fruit under cold running water

Shopping for Essentials:

The following recommendations can help you protect yourself, and prevent the spread of COVID-19 when you are shopping. Also, consider downloading the COVID Alert app so you can be notified directly if you have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.

Stay home if you are sick

Limit the number of shopping trips

  • Order supplies online, if possible.
  • Minimize the number of trips for groceries, medication and other essentials, to once a week.
  • Keep track of the essentials you already have at home. Try to be creative and use what you have before deciding to go out (e.g. try new recipes).
  • Offer to pick-up essentials for neighbours, especially vulnerable community members.
  • Plan before going out:
    • Make a list of the items that you need to limit the amount of time spent out during your visit.
    • Buy enough for one to two weeks at a time, buying more than this can create strain on supply chains and result in temporary shortages.
    • Try to do all of your shopping at one location.
    • Check the stores website or call in advance to find out when the best time to visit is (i.e. off-peak hours) and to find out about special hours for seniors and vulnerable individuals.
    • Allow for extra time. Stores may limit the number of people entering at a time, and may have a lineup outside the main entrance.
    • Be patient and treat store employees and other customers with kindness and respect.

Safe shopping practices

  • Practice physical distancing:
    • Reduce crowding by not bringing extra people with you when going shopping.
      • Households should designate one person to do the shopping, if possible.
    • Keep two metres (six feet) apart from others:
      • Follow physical distancing markers and visual aids (e.g. signage, floor markings) where provided
      • Avoid crowded aisles.
      • Be courteous to others in front of you by allowing them to complete their selection of items before moving forward.
      • If you have to ask a staff member a question, remember to keep your distance.
      • Don’t crowd the cashier station, and keep your distance from the person in front of you.
      • Wait until the person in front of you has finished collecting their items before unloading yours at the cashier station.
    • Greet others from a distance with a nod or wave.
  • Practice hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette:
    • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 15 seconds.
    • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, if your hands are not visibly soiled.
      • If possible, carry hand sanitizer and use it before entering and immediately after exiting the store.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze into a tissue. Immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve.
    • Avoid touching your face.
    • Use disinfectant wipes:
      • If provided in the store, wipe down the cart or basket handles and discard the wipe immediately.
      • If possible, bring your own disinfectant wipes.
    • Practice general food safety while shopping:
      • Avoid touching items that you are not going to buy.
        • Visually inspect fruit, vegetables and other items prior to selection to ensure they are fresh.
      • Canned food should be free of dents, rust and bulges.
      • Packages should be intact with no ripped or torn packaging.
      • Avoid purchasing bulk food items that are not prepackaged (e.g. candy, nuts).
      • Use contactless payment whenever possible.
      • Never leave food in a hot car as warm temperatures can help bacteria to grow.
      • If reusable bags are permitted, bag your own groceries to minimize touching by other individuals.
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces in your vehicle if you touched them before washing/sanitizing your hands (e.g. steering wheel, door handles, radio dials).

Gloves

  • Gloves are not a substitute for proper hand hygiene, and are not recommended when shopping.
  • If you choose to wear gloves, it is important to change/remove them when they become dirty and after exiting the store.
  • Avoid touching your face when wearing gloves.
  • Discard gloves in a waste receptacle immediately after removing.
  • Wash and/or sanitize your hands immediately after removing gloves.

Face masks and coverings

  • You must wear a mask or face covering when you are in indoor public spaces such as stores, as per a new City of Toronto bylaw. Some exceptions apply, including children under the age of two, and people with medical conditions that make wearing a mask difficult. Learn about the proper use and disposal of masks.

Putting away your groceries

  • Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after returning home, handling groceries, bags, food packaging/containers and putting away food.
  • Wash fresh fruits and vegetables, under cold running water.
  • Refrigerate or freeze perishable foods promptly.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces after unpacking your groceries (e.g. countertops).
  • Clean and wash re-usable grocery bags before every use.

Using food delivery services

  • Food should be delivered and received with minimal or no contact.
  • Prepay for food with a credit card when you order over the phone, or online.
  • Delivery should be contactless:
    • Orders should be delivered to your front door or a designated area.
  • Maintain two meters (six feet) when receiving a delivery.
  • Check the following upon receiving a food delivery:
    • Food should be delivered to you as quickly as possible to ensure it is received at the proper temperatures: “hot food” should be hot and “cold food” should be cold.
    • Food packing should be intact and sealed to prevent leaking and protect the food during transit.
    • Food packaging should be labelled.
    • Check for signs of freshness (i.e. no spoilage and mould).
    • If in doubt, throw it out, or contact the store you purchased the food from.
  • After receiving take-out deliveries, transfer the meal to a plate and discard the packaging immediately.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after handling take-out bags/packaging and before eating.

General food safety practices at home

  • Prevent cross contamination:
    • Keep fruits, vegetables and ready to eat foods separate from raw meats.
    • Wash your hands before and after handling or preparing food.
  • Cook/reheat food properly to avoid foodborne illness.
  • Use a probe thermometer to check that the food is cooked to the proper internal temperature.
    • Cooking and reheating food to recommended internal temperatures for beef, poultry, pork should kill the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Visit our website to learn more about food safety at home.

Food Access

  • Seniors and vulnerable residents who are in self-isolation, feeling ill or need help obtaining food, can call 211 for assistance.
  • Visit our website for more information about food access strategies and delivery services.

Download this information as a PDF (also available in Amharic | Arabic | Bengali | Dari | Farsi | French | Gujarati | Pashto | Portuguese | Punjabi | Simplified Chinese | Somali | Spanish | Tamil | Urdu | Vietnamese).

Resources:

Being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 allows people to have safer interactions, including sexual activity. This resource offers ways to help you make informed and consensual decisions about sex, while also reducing the spread of COVID-19 to yourself, your partner(s) and your community.

Can I get COVID-19 from having sex?

While COVID-19 is not sexually transmitted, it does spread through direct contact with respiratory droplets (saliva) of someone who is infected with the virus. These respiratory droplets can travel up to two metres and can be shared when you cough, sneeze, talk, or kiss.  Safer sexual practices may prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), but will not prevent transmission of COVID-19.

How to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and still enjoy sex

  • Get fully vaccinated with two doses of vaccine as soon as you can. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and the best way to protect yourself and your partner(s) from serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.
  • Talk to your partner(s) about COVID-19 vaccination, risk factors and how to protect yourselves.
  • Even if you are fully vaccinated, skip having sex if you or your partner(s) are feeling unwell or have symptoms of COVID-19.

Other ways to reduce your risk

  • Use condoms to protect yourself from STIs and get tested regularly for STIs.
  • Wash your hands before and after having sex, whether alone or with a partner.
  • Consider sexual positions that avoid being face-to-face.
  • During oral or anal sex, use condoms, gloves or other barriers to reduce contact with saliva and other fluids.
  • Clean sex toys and consider covering them with a condom. Do not share sex toys with others.

If you or your partner(s) are not fully vaccinated, consider ways you can further reduce your risk:

  • Be creative and find ways to include using masks during sex, especially with partners you do not live with.
  • Avoid or limit kissing and saliva exchange and do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • If you usually meet sex partners online, are polyamorous with people who you don’t live with, or make a living having sex, consider video dates, virtual sex, sexting or chat rooms instead of meeting people in person.

Download this information as a PDF (also available in Amharic | Arabic | Bengali | Dari | Farsi | French | Gujarati | Pashto | Portuguese | Punjabi | Simplified Chinese | Somali | Spanish | Tamil | Urdu | Vietnamese).

You can safely perform CPR during COVID-19 and reduce the spread of the virus by following these hands-only CPR guidelines, which were developed by Toronto Paramedic Services.

On December 31, 2019, Chinese health authorities identified a new (or novel) coronavirus (referred to as COVID-19) through a series of reported cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, China.

Coronaviruses are a large family of common viruses which are typically associated with mild illness, similar to the common cold and spread easily between people. There are however, strains of coronaviruses which have caused more severe illness, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). These tend to have more difficulty spreading from person to person.

COVID-19 is commonly spread from an infected person through:

  • Respiratory droplets shared when you cough or sneeze. These droplets can spread up to 2 metres, or 6 feet.
  • Close, prolonged personal contact (defined as being within 2 metres for 15 minutes or more), or having physical contact, such as hugging someone.
  • Aerosols, which are tiny droplets, that can stay in the air for longer, especially when there are a higher number of people indoors, for a longer period of time, with poor airflow or ventilation.
  • Touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

COVID-19 can also spread from aerosols generated during medical procedures and certain dental procedures. COVID-19 is not known to be spread through ventilation systems or through water.

Transmission from aerosols is more likely when there are a higher number of people indoors, for a longer period of time, with poor airflow or ventilation.  With proper airflow or ventilation, smaller virus particles will become diluted and disperse faster, similar to what occurs when you open windows to air out a smoky room. While aerosols may contribute to the spread of COVID-19, infections are still linked to person-to-person transmission through close direct contact with someone who was contagious.

Learn more about COVID-19 transmission, aerosols and ventilation (also available in French) or visit the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website. Also read the Public Health Agency of Canada’s guidance on using ventilation and filtration to reduce the risk of aerosol transmission of COVID-19 at home.

COVID-19 Variants

  • Viruses often change, making new variants.
  • Some variants spread more easily, and make people sicker.
  • Vaccines can protect against variants.
  • Wearing a mask, keeping your distance, and staying home  except for essential trips will help stop the spread

Download the COVID-19 variants infographic

Resources

COVID-19 Fact Sheet (also available in Amharic | Arabic | Bengali | Dari | Farsi | French | Gujarati | Pashtu | Portuguese | Punjabi | Simplified Chinese | Somali | Spanish | Tamil | Urdu | Vietnamese)

American Sign Language (ASL) Translation

French Resource:

Most regular household cleaners are effective against COVID-19. Read the label to know if the cleaning product will also disinfect. Clean and disinfect common surfaces such as door handles, countertops, tables, light switches, faucets, sinks, toilets, etc. to reduce the spread of germs and virus. If the surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned with soap and water first before applying disinfectant. Leave the disinfecting solution to dry for it to work. Always follow the product instructions.

For soft surfaces such as drapes and clothing. Read the label. Launder items according to the label, using the warmest temperature setting permitted. See UNICEF for more cleaning tips and on doing laundry during COVID-19.

Electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets, keyboards and remote controls are the most forgotten surfaces. Use disinfectant wipes that are appropriate for electronics. If there is no manufacturer instructions, use 70% alcohol-based wipes.

Caution: Always read the label. Do not mix chemicals. Wear protective gloves/eyewear and open windows for good ventilation. Store chemicals out of reach of children and pets.

For more information, visit Public Health Ontario: Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings.

Resource:

Download the Safely Clean and Disinfect Surfaces infographic (also available in Amharic | ArabicDari | Farsi | FrenchGujarati | PashtoPortuguesePunjabiSimplifed Chinese | Somali | Spanish | Tamil | Urdu | Vietnamese).

American Sign Language (ASL) Translation

Tailored health advice related to alcohol and drug use; pregnancy, breastfeeding and child care; seniors information, communicating with people who are deaf or hard of hearing; and pet ownership to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Know the Law

Learn how emergency orders, directives and bylaws impact you, including the Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health’s directives for residents of Toronto issued on April 1.

Information in French

For information in French about COVID-19, please visit the Government of Ontario’s website and Public Health Ontario portal.