Last updated: May 28, 2020 at 5:05 p.m.
The Government of Ontario declared a provincial emergency on March 17, 2020 under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. This declaration of emergency was last extended on May 12, 2020 and is currently in effect until June 2, 2020. On May 27, the Government of Ontario extended all emergency orders put in place under this declaration to date until June 9, 2020. The Province has also issued temporary emergency orders to support the immediate needs of hospitals and health care workers so manage critical health care human resources during COVID-19.
Ontario businesses who have questions about the emergency orders can call the Province’s toll-free line: 1-888-444-3659.
Learn about economic support and recovery for businesses.
Read Toronto Public Health’s Guidance for Workplaces/Businesses and Employers (also available below) and Four Step Public Health Planning Guide for Reopening Toronto Businesses and Workplaces during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The Planning Guide for Businesses identifies issues and critical elements of emergency preparedness that organizations should consider in planning for a pandemic.
Read also Public Health Ontario’s guidance on Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings.
Learn about supports available for businesses.
This document will provide guidance to protect your employees and customers from COVID-19 in a non-health care workplace or place of business. Strategies can be adapted to meet the needs of different environments.
COVID-19 stands for Corona Virus Disease – 2019 (year the outbreak began). COVID-19 spreads through the direct contact with the respiratory droplets of someone who is infected with the virus through their cough or sneeze. These droplets can spread up to two metres/six feet. It may be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.
It is strongly recommend that all staff complete a health screening questionnaire before each work shift. The questions can be completed on a paper based questionnaire; can be asked directly to employees and answers recorded; or can be completed electronically. See sample screening form that can be used.
Employers should ensure staff do not come to work sick. Have a clear procedure to notify a supervisor if a staff is sick. Consider the following:
Handwashing or using an alcohol-based (70%) hand sanitizer is very important to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Washing with soap and water is preferred if hands are visibly dirty. Clean hands thoroughly, lather and rub for at least 15 seconds. Ensure adequate supplies are maintained. If gloves are being used, after removing gloves, place in garbage and wash hands.
Employees should keep two metres/six feet from other staff and customers as much as possible. Discourage employees from congregating. Ensure staff maintain physical distancing while in lunch room and meeting rooms.
Consider installing Plexiglas or other barriers if there will be close contact between your staff and customers. Remove surplus furniture and supplies from walkways to allow ease of movement while maintaining physical distancing. Use tap features at checkout instead of cash.
Ensure frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces and common areas such door handles, counters, cabinet doors, elevator buttons, light switches, faucets, toilet handles, hand rails, touch screen surfaces and keypads. Common areas should have soap, hand sanitizer and/or disinfectant wipes. If wipes are not available, general disinfectants can be used.
Commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are effective against COVID-19. Use only disinfectants that have a Drug Identification Number (DIN) that confirms it is approved for use in Canada. Follow manufacturer’s instructions and check the expiry date of products.
Make plans to operate with different levels of staff absenteeism due to illness, ill-dependants, or for child care during school closures. Businesses and other employers should prepare to institute flexible workplace and leave policies. Review and decide what services are essential during this pandemic. Plan business functions, jobs, roles and critical elements within your business that have been identified to be essential or critical.
Establish a communication process to update employees and business partners on changes to your business during COVID-19. Provide communications with anticipation there may be employee fear, anxiety, rumors, and misinformation.
At this time, the Government of Canada recommends all Canadians avoid all non-essential travel. Check the Government of Canada’s travel advisories for the latest guidance and recommendations. Travellers entering Canada will be required to self-isolate for 14 days after return from travel outside of Canada. Healthy individuals that cross the border and are deemed essential workers are exempt from self-isolation but must self-monitor for symptoms.
Person(s) with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 are reported by health care providers and laboratories to public health. If someone at the workplace got COVID-19, public health will conduct an investigation and assess risks to staff that may have occurred in the workplace. Public Health will advise staff/workplace of any additional measures needed to reduce the risk of transmission. This may include instructions for staff to self-isolate or self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, and/or increase cleaning and disinfecting. Employees who do not have symptoms are not tested; however, Public Health will advise if additional testing is necessary if there are multiple cases at a workplace (outbreak). Tests for clearance to return to work are not necessary.
Unless advised by Toronto Public Health through the above assessment, there are no restrictions or special measures required for contacts of suspected cases of COVID-19 in the setting.
Reduce overcrowding. Increase your online or phone services. Plan for curb side delivery. Hand sanitizer if available for customers should be at entry and exit.
Cloth masks and face covers are also strongly recommended to customers when physical distancing is difficult to maintain. Not all customers will be able to tolerate a mask and should not be denied service. Alternative ways to provide service to these individuals should be considered (online ordering/delivery).
To protect everyone, we strongly recommend placing posters at the entrance to ensure customers do not enter if they have COVID-19 symptoms. If you provide one-on-one service, consider screening customers prior to arrival over the phone. People with symptoms of COVID-19 should go home right away so they do not spread the virus to staff and other customers.
Holidays, celebrations, and faith-based observances are normally an opportunity to spend time with family, friends, and the wider community and may include hosting a big meal, visiting extended family, or attending an important faith service.
Everyone is urged to follow provincial orders to close places of worship and restrict gatherings, and follow public health recommendations for physical distancing, to remain at home, leaving only for essential reasons.
Spiritual, emotional, and mental well-being is important during these difficult times. Connect with loved ones, friends, and vulnerable members of the community online or by phone. Those feeling isolated or anxious are encouraged to seek mental health support.
Many places of worship are hosting services online and implementing innovative ways to connect their communities while staying physically apart. Check the website of a place of worship for information on online services and supports.
Those planning to mark an occasion with a special meal for members of their household should be mindful of the current situation in the wider community.
General advice for grocery shopping remains:
There are also many opportunities to foster the spirit holidays and special occasions through donations to local food banks. Residents who are able are encouraged to donate non-perishable food to food banks or drop off food donations at local fire halls.
The Government of Canada has prohibited foreign nationals, including U.S. nationals, from entering Canada for non-essential travel, which includes holidays and celebrations. Anyone that does enter the country, including Canadians returning from travel, is required, by law, to self-isolate for 14 days regardless of whether they have symptoms of COVID-19.
On March 17, 2020, the provincial government issued an order that all licensed child care centres must cease to operate in Ontario, with the exception of emergency child care to support essential and critical workers.
The City of Toronto has the authority and discretion to determine emergency child care needs. At this time, emergency child care centres are located in existing City-run child care facilities, and are operated and staffed by City of Toronto child care workers.
Community-operated child care centres cannot operate in Toronto as emergency child care. If required, the City will work closely with our provincial and community partners to determine how this service may be expanded to include other licensed child care centres that can meet Toronto Public Health and Occupational Health and Safety requirements.
Toronto’s Emergency Child Care for Essential Workers adheres to the following guidelines, policies and procedures:
Toronto’s licensed child care system has more than 1,000 centres and 18 home child care agencies, including City-operated child care centres (Toronto Early Learning & Child Care Services) and community-operated child care programs. Learn about affected City-operated Children’s Services.
Toronto Public Health’s Guidance for Commercial or Residential Buildings provides recommendations to help reduce the risk of exposures to acute respiratory illness, including COVID-19, in buildings such as hotels, condominiums, apartment buildings and other similar vertical living spaces.
Toronto Public Health has created visuals to educate residents and building staff about what physical distancing is, exercising physical distancing on elevators and in shared laundry rooms (also available in Simplified Chinese).
Landlords are encouraged to request entry only in urgent situations (e.g. emergency repairs). When entry is still required, exercise physical distancing guidelines at all times and ensure proper hand hygiene before and after services.
Learn more about the provincial recommendations regarding entering a rental unit under current circumstances.
The Province of Ontario has issued an order to close all outdoor recreational amenities even on private properties. This includes condo parks and gardens, benches, picnic areas, outdoor community gardens, outdoor exercise equipment, and other outdoor recreational amenities landlords provide to their residents.
Read the following guides:
Read Toronto Public Health’s Guidance for Food Banks and Donation Centres.
Toronto Public Health has developed directions for community and allotment gardens on City property to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 for individuals using these gardens. Anyone using a community or allotment garden must do so in accordance with these directions. Garden managers and gardeners must also complete this declaration, which confirms their commitment to following these Toronto Public Health directions.
Every person visiting a garden must complete the self-assessment for COVID-19 on the Ontario Ministry of Health website (also available as a PDF). If they do not pass the assessment they should not participate in community gardening until they pass the assessment and do not have symptoms of COVID-19.
Toronto Public Health has developed a sample members list for garden managers.
Learn more about City of Toronto community and allotment gardens.
Community and allotment gardens on private property are also strongly encouraged to follow these directions to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 for individuals using their gardens.
On April 25, 2020, the provincial government amended its Emergency Order to allow community and allotment gardens to operate. Community gardens exist on both City of Toronto and private property. Allotment gardens are permitted through the City of Toronto and are located on City property. In this document, garden member refers to gardeners at community gardens and allotment gardens.
As of April 30, 2020, there continues to be community spread of COVID-19. Toronto Public Health (TPH) has a role to protect the health of all residents, and public health measures are in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This document provides interim directions for community and allotment gardens to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 for individuals using these gardens. Any person that uses community or allotment gardens must do so in accordance with these directions. While it is recognized that these instructions will take effort on the part of garden members and managers, given the current spread of infection there is risk that needs to be managed by individuals participating in community and allotment gardens. It is important that garden members and managers commit to following these directions for their own health and to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to the general public.
The risk of severe illness from COVID-19 is greater in older adults, individuals with a weak immune system, and individuals with a pre-existing medical condition. Toronto Public Health strongly encourages residents who are at higher risk of contracting and becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 infection, such as those over the age of 70, to self-isolate, limit interaction with others, and to stay home as much as possible. If you are an older adult (aged 70+), an individual with a weak immune system, or an individual with a medical condition it is recommended that you not participate in community gardens.
Infection prevention and control measures to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 are as follows:
The Planning Guide for Correctional Facilities identifies issues and critical elements of emergency preparedness that organizations should consider in planning for a pandemic.
On May 19, the Government of Ontario announced that all public schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Private schools will remain closed until June 9, 2020 under the extended Declaration of Emergency.
The Planning Guide for Schools identifies issues and critical elements of emergency preparedness that organizations should consider in planning for a pandemic.
The Planning Guide for Colleges and Universities identifies issues and critical elements of emergency preparedness that organizations should consider in planning for a pandemic.
The Government of Ontario has approved an exemption to the emergency order related to gatherings to allow residents to attend drive-in religious gatherings under certain conditions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including:
Read a letter from Toronto Public Health for further guidance on recommendations for funerals and burials.
Read Toronto Public Health’s Guidance for Food Banks and Donation Centres.
Read Toronto Public Health’s Guidance for Food Stores, including grocery stores, supermarkets and pharmacies.
Further guidance for food premises is available on the Ontario Ministry of Health’s website.
Read Toronto Public Health’s Guidance for Group Homes and Congregate Settings.
The presence of COVID-19 in Toronto has introduced new challenges for people who use drugs, and programs providing harm reduction services. Toronto Public Health has developed resources to support people who use drugs and harm reduction workers:
Read also the Ontario Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Guidance for Consumption and Treatment Services (CTS).
In addition to the enhanced Infection, Prevention & Control (IPAC) and cleaning measures in City-owned facilities, Toronto Public Health (TPH), Shelter, Support & Housing Administration (SSHA) have provided sector partners that operate shelters, respites, and drop-ins with interim guidelines to respond to COVID-19. See also the infection prevention and control tips for homelessness service setting providers and learn how Toronto Public Health works with shelters to help control and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Planning Guide for Housing Service Providers and Shelters identifies issues and critical elements of emergency preparedness that organizations should consider in planning for a pandemic.
Long-term care homes in Ontario are part of the provincial health care system, and are licensed, regulated and inspected by the Ministry of Long-Term Care. The majority of long-term care homes in Toronto are operated privately, some are non-profit, and 10 are City-run, not-for-profit facilities.
During any infectious disease outbreak in a long-term care home it is important to institute measures to prevent and control the spread of the infection in the facility, while balancing the daily life of the residents in the home. Usually, when an outbreak is declared in a particular unit or floor, infection prevention and control measures are implemented in that area to prevent the spread to other areas of the building.
When a long-term care home has one reported a positive case of COVID-19, an outbreak is declared and a Toronto Public Health investigator is assigned to work with the facility to ensure outbreak control measures are put in place, in accordance with provincial guidelines.
Learn more about the role of Toronto Public Health in long-term care homes during the COVID-19 outbreak and how we work with long-term care homes to help control and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in these settings.
Access data about active COVID-19 outbreaks in Toronto long-term care homes on the COVID-19: Status of Cases in Toronto page.
Residents are encouraged to go outside for fresh air and exercise. However, you still need to practise physical distancing, including in parks.
Tips for keeping everyone safe when visiting a park:
Outdoor play for dogs and their owners is encouraged to stay active and healthy. Keep everyone safe, including your dog, by keeping your dog on a leash when outdoors, and by following these tips when visiting a dog off-leash area:
For more information, read the Use of Dog Off-Leash Guidelines.
Follow these safety tips for golfing to protect yourself and others from COVID-19:
For more information, read Toronto Public Health’s Guidance for Golf Courses.
Keeping everyone safe when using tennis courses:
Follow these tips for keeping everyone safe when using public transit:
Download the Using Public Transit during COVID-19 infographic.