Last updated: May 22, 2020 at 2:50 p.m.
Tailored health advice for people with specific needs to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Alcohol & Other Drug Use during COVID-19
During the COVID-19 pandemic, people may experience emotions and face situations that influence their consumption of alcohol, cannabis or other drugs. Alcohol and cannabis use is associated with some diseases that can make a person more vulnerable to COVID-19, and may influence the outcome of a COVID-19 infection.
Learn more about substance use during COVID-19 and what you can do to minimize risks to your health:
Toronto Public Health has also developed harm reduction resources for people who use drugs, including Tips for People Who Use Drugs and Harm Reduction during COVID-19.
If you need support for a substance use issue, visit our Mental Health Resources page to find community-specific resources.
Encouraging Outdoor Play for Children during COVID-19
Children use play to explore their environment, grow their imagination and discover new opportunities. Playing outside is fun, exciting and important for healthy child development. Below are strategies on encouraging outdoor play for children while helping keep them safe from COVID-19.
When children play outside they:
- Think creatively and problem solve
- Move more, sit less and play longer
- Build muscle strength, coordination and confidence
- Learn better, sleep better and feel better physically and emotionally, and
- Learn skills that help them cope with stress.
Prevent the spread
- Stay home if you or your child is feeling sick or have been exposed to COVID-19.
- Wash hands with soap and water for 15 seconds when returning indoors.
- Teach children about the proper use of hand sanitizer, and to avoid touching their face.
Practise physical distancing
- Teach children to keep six feet apart from others who do not live with them.
- Do not play in crowded areas.
- Do not have playdates with other families.
- Bring your own toys or sports equipment. Wash toys after play with hot soapy water.
- Avoid touching common surfaces such as park benches.
- Avoid playgrounds.
- Teach children how to stay safe around potential dangers, such as streets.
- Use bike paths and helmets when using tricycles, scooters and bicycles.
- Provide time and space for children to play.
- Find park areas with grass, slopes and hills for children to run, crawl, roll and climb on.
- Choose nature trails for children to explore.
- Play with your children and have fun together!
Download this information as a PDF.
Immunization during COVID-19
Currently, there isn’t a vaccine for COVID-19, however vaccinating infants and toddlers is still important during COVID-19. Vaccine preventable diseases are still spreading globally. Waiting to vaccinate can leave children vulnerable to diseases. Vaccines should only be postponed if your child is sick with respiratory symptoms to prevent any possible spread of COVID-19.
Immunization is not just for kids. The vaccines you need may depend on your age, health condition, occupation, travel habits, environment, and lifestyle. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to be vaccinated during COVID19 and how to safely attend a clinic.
Before Your Visit
- Choose only one parent or guardian to accompany your child’s appointment.
- Do not attend a clinic if you or your child is sick. Call to reschedule an appointment.
- Review tips to improve your child’s immunization experience.
- Bring your child’s immunization card to the appointment or download the CANImmunize app.
- Talk to your child about the visit so they know what to expect. Your child may feel a poke or pinch for a few seconds.
- Have your child choose a blanket, stuffed toy or a book for distraction or comfort.
During the Visit
- Wait in the car until they are ready for your child, if feasible.
- Sanitize your hands when entering the building.
- If spending time in the waiting room with others, consider wearing a face mask.
- Keep six feet distance from others.
- After vaccination, stay at the clinic for 15 minutes to monitor for any reactions.
- Offer praise. Positive reinforcement works for children of all ages.
- Sanitize your hands when leaving the building.
- At home, monitor your child for any side effects. For minor reactions such as fever, irritability or a sore arm, use acetaminophen or ibuprofen as directed by your doctor.
- If you notice any changes in your child’s health, such as unusual fussing, crying or low energy, call your doctor.
School vaccinations for Grades 7 and 8 will resume when schools re-open. Students can complete their vaccinations for hepatitis B, human papillomavirus and meningococcal disease at that time without the need to re-start the vaccine series.
Pregnant, Breastfeeding or Providing Infant Care
There is limited information available about the effect of COVID-19 on pregnant women and babies. However, there is information about pregnancy and other respiratory viruses, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which we can learn from.
Effect of COVID-19 on Pregnant Women
- Respiratory infections during pregnancy are a concern as pregnant women are more likely to have more serious symptoms and may need to be hospitalized.
- You can protect yourself by practicing physical distancing and avoid being exposed.
- Based on current information, there have been no cases where the mother has passed the virus to the baby during pregnancy and delivery.
- Some mothers have gone into early labour due to exposure to the virus.
- Women who have tested positive for COVID-19 should speak with their health care provider about their labour and delivery plan.
- Women who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who are suspected to having been exposed to COVID-19 should wear a mask and be isolated in a single-occupancy room during and after delivery.
- Only one visitor or support person may be allowed in the room during the delivery.
Learn more about COVID-19 and pregnancy.
Breastfeeding After Testing Positive for COVID-19
- There is limited information about breastfeeding as it relates to COVID-19. In other coronavirus infections, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the virus has not been detected in breastmilk.
- As breastmilk provides protection against many illnesses, it is recommended that a mother with COVID-19 continue to breastfeed, but take all self-isolation precautions and wear a face mask while breastfeeding to avoid spreading the virus to the infant.
- If you feel too unwell to breastfeed you can hand express or pump your milk at least eight times in 24 hours, and once during the night, to maintain your breastmilk supply. Your expressed milk may be fed to the baby from a cup, spoon or bottle by someone who is well.
- If expressing breast milk by hand or with a manual or electric breast pump, you should put on a face
mask and wash your hands thoroughly before touching any pump or bottle parts, and follow
recommendations for proper pump cleaning after each use.
- If a bottle is used to feed expressed breast milk, ensure that it is properly sterilized.
- All caregivers must practice good hygiene measures, including hand washing and wearing a face mask, before touching the baby, breast pump, or feeding bottles and equipment.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Learn more about breastfeeding and COVID-19 and breastfeeding.
Caring for a Baby When You Have COVID-19
- Based on current information, infants and children do not appear to be at higher risk for getting COVID-19 than adults.
- Symptoms and complications of COVID-19 appear to be milder among infants and children compared with adults based on limited reports to date.
- The best way to protect your baby is to take all self-isolation precautions and avoid exposing your baby to COVID-19.
- Before touching your baby, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 15 seconds.
- Wear a face mask over your nose and mouth whenever you are near your baby.
- If possible, keep the infant’s sleep surface at least six feet from your face.
- Ask friends or family members who are not sick to help care for your baby.
- If you are breastfeeding, always wash your hands before touching the baby and wear a face mask while breastfeeding.
- If you have made an informed decision to feed your baby infant formula:
- Ask someone who is well to feed the baby.
- Always wash your hands and wear a face mask while preparing formula and feeding the baby.
- Sterilize bottles and equipment, and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Have a two to four week supply of formula.
- If your baby is under two months of age, use liquid concentrate or ready-to-feed formula.
Homemade infant formula is not recommended as it is nutritionally incomplete. Learn about infant formula.
Learn more about caring for a baby when you have COVID-19.
Download this information as a PDF in English, Simplified Chinese, Farsi and French.
Residents of Care Homes
Visitors are not allowed in long-term care or retirement homes.
Families and friends can:
- Stay in touch by calling, video-conferencing, sending an email or letter, or contacting staff for an update.
- Thank staff at the home for the work they do every day.
Learn about changes at City of Toronto Long-Term Care Homes.
Send an e-card to a long-term care resident
Send well wishes to a loved one or bring a smile to an anonymous resident living in one of the City’s 10 long-term care homes.
Messages sent to long-term care homes will be delivered daily, Monday to Friday.
How to send an e-card:
1. Choose a card
2. Customize the card by typing into the text box provided.
3. Save your card/message as a Word document or PDF.
4. Email the Word document or PDF to the:
- resident if you know their email address
- long-term care home if the resident cannot access email independently (be sure to include their name in subject line)
- long-term care home if you would like to send a message to an unknown resident who would like to receive a card (note resident unknown in subject line)
Toronto Public Health strongly encourages residents over the age of 70 to self-isolate, limit interaction with others, and to stay home as much as possible. The risk of severe illness from COVID-19 is greater in older adults, individuals with a weak immune system, and individuals with a medical condition.
Practise Physical Distancing
- Exercise indoors
- Stay connected with loved ones by phone, email or video. Avoid family visits
- Ask others to pick up groceries or medicine for you, or limit trips outdoors for essentials to once a week
- When using elevators or common areas in buildings, keep six feet distance from others
- Open curtains during the day. Sunlight can improve mood
Learn more about practising physical distancing.
Practice Good Hand Hygiene & Cough Etiquette
- Wash your hands often with soap and water
- Avoid touching your face
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately discard the tissue. If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm
- Clean and disinfect surfaces frequently
Residents Receiving Care
- Keep a distance of six feet from others as much as possible
- Stay in a separate room when your support person is putting away groceries, preparing meals, cleaning, etc.
- Tell your support person not to come if they are sick, and to send someone else.
- Let your support person know ahead of time if you are sick, so they can be prepared
- Open windows for good airflow.
Residents Returning From Travel
If you have recently returned from travel anywhere outside of Canada, including the United States, you must self-isolate for 14 days. Ask others for help with groceries and other tasks while you are self-isolating.
Download this information as a PDF.
Supports Available for Seniors
Learn about social and financial supports available to seniors.
Sharing Child Custody & Co-Parenting during COVID-19
Tips for parents
The COVID-19 pandemic may be challenging for parents who are not living together but are co-parenting their children. Below are some tips to help you work together during this stressful time.
Stick to the court-ordered parenting schedules as much as possible:
- Regular parenting time and custody schedules should be kept, unless someone is self-isolating or under quarantine.
- Family court has been postponed during the pandemic, and only urgent matters will be heard at this time.
- If you think the other parent is not taking necessary health precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, an urgent motion can be filed. Instructions on how to file an urgent motion can be found on the Ontario Superior Court of Justice website.
- Do not take advantage of this health crisis to prevent your child from having contact with the other parent. Breaches of custody orders will be noted once the courts are back in session.
Maintain structure and routines:
- Stick to regular family schedules and routines – schedule time for exercise, school work, family time, chores and hobbies. Keep regular bedtimes and meal times.
Keep conflict away from children:
- Stay child-focused and work together as a united team to help your child feel safe and reduce their stress and anxiety. Focus on what is best for your child.
Reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19:
- To model good prevention behaviour, ensure that both homes are taking measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 such as regular hand washing, cleaning and sanitizing frequently touched objects, staying home as much as possible, and practising physical distancing.
- When carrying out parenting exchanges, do it where you can keep a safe physical distancing of two metres (or six feet) from the other parent, and wash your child’s toys, clothing and personal belongings each time they return from their other parent.
- If you have symptoms or have been exposed or tested positive to COVID-19, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days starting from the day the symptoms started. If your child was not with you when you started having symptoms you should not see them until after the 14 day self-isolation period is over, and you are feeling better and no longer have a fever. Make sure to let the other parent know as soon as possible.
- If your child was with you when you developed symptoms or were exposed to COVID-19, they must stay with you and also self-isolate for 14 days.
- Parenting exchanges should not take place when a parent or child is self-isolating, and should only resume once the isolation period is over, and the parent or child who was in self-isolation is feeling better, and no longer has a fever.
- If you are caring for someone with COVID-19 or are pregnant or caring for a new baby at home and have COVID-19, ensure that you are taking measures to prevent spreading the virus.
For more information about co-parenting during COVID-19:
For more legal information or support:
Download this information as a PDF.
Also read the Public Health Agency of Canada’s fact sheet for vulnerable populations.