Last updated: August 2, 2020 at 12:52 p.m.

Toronto Public Health is partnering with COVID Near You to monitor the frequency of COVID-like symptoms in Toronto. Help us learn how symptoms of COVID-19 may be moving through our community by completing a short survey about your current symptoms.

Avoid close contact and keep a distance of two metres (six feet) from others. 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:

  • Limit non-essential trips out of your home
  • Keep two metres (six feet) distance from others
  • Wear a mask or face covering in indoor public spaces and when you can’t keep physical distance
  • Clean your hands often. Use soap and water or an alcohol-based (70-90 per cent) hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow or a tissue. Immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you are feeling unwell

Social Circles

The Government of Ontario is allowing social circles of no more than 10 people who can interact with one another without physical distancing. Learn more about establishing a social circle safely.

Physical distancing means limiting close contact with others. When outside of your home, practise physical distancing by staying two metres (six feet) away from others to reduce the spread of COVID-19.


  • Stay at home when you are sick, even if your symptoms are mild.
  • Stay within your social circle of 10 family members or friends.
  • Avoid crowded places, playgrounds, play dates, or gathering at the beach.
  • Wash your hands often, and avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve.
  • Greet others from a distance with a smile, nod or wave.
  • Practise self-care, and check-in with family, friends and vulnerable neighbours.
  • Wear a non-medical mask or face covering in indoor public spaces.
  • You still need to practice physical distancing when wearing a mask or face covering.

Safer spaces

  • Continue to work from home, when possible
  • Go out with your social circle for fresh air, exercise and outdoor play
  • Shop and bank online, or shop during off peak hours or use curbside pickup
  • Connect virtually with others for coffee chats, selfies, funny videos and special events
  • If home is not safe for you, reach out for help

Residents of multi-unit buildings

  • Limit your time in common areas and wear a mask or face covering
  • Limit the number of people in elevators to keep two metres (six feet) apart, when possible
  • Wear a mask or face covering and use your elbow to push buttons in elevators
  • For shared laundry areas:
    • Choose a time when it is less busy and keep two metres (six feet) from others
    • Sort and fold clothes at home
    • Wash your hands when you return home
    • Wear a mask or face covering

Get more tips for the safe use of spaces such as parks, recreational facilities, transit and more. You can also download this information as a PDF.

Activities that Support Physical Distancing

  • The City has also created a resource list of free, high-quality recreation, active living, arts and culture activities for all ages to enjoy while staying, playing, and learning at home.
  • ActiveTO is a program that will make more room on neighbourhood streets and major roads so that people can maintain physical distance while outside.
  • CurbTO is a program to help businesses, services, and community agencies support physical distancing outside and inside their buildings while also accommodating increased demand for delivery and pickup services.
  • The CaféTO program aims to provide more outdoor dining areas to help restaurants and bars create physical distancing for patrons on patios during the summer months.



Effective July 7, wearing a mask or face covering is required under the Mandatory Mask or Face Covering Bylaw in indoor public spaces. Effective August 5, masks or face coverings are also required in condominium and apartment building common areas.

Wearing non-medical (cloth) masks or face coverings can be an added public health measure for containing the spread of COVID-19 when it is used in combination with frequent handwashing, physical distancing and staying home when sick.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. The infection spreads from close contact with someone with COVID-19 through their respiratory droplets or touching our face with contaminated hands. Respiratory droplets can include coughing, sneezing, talking or even normal breathing. When a person is singing, laughing or talking loudly, the droplets can travel further than two metres/six feet.

People may unknowingly pass the infection to others because they do not have symptoms (asymptomatic) or have not yet developed symptoms (pre-symptomatic). The highest risk for infection is with prolonged close contact.

My Mask Protects You and Your Mask Protects Me

As we move to Stage 3 of reopening, more people are returning to work, reconnecting, moving around the city and using public transit. This is making physical distancing more challenging, or nearing impossible. The risk of spreading COVID-19 is greater indoors as there is less air flow and ventilation, more crowding, and a greater chance of touching surfaces that have been contaminated by respiratory droplets.

Wearing masks or face coverings indoors helps us keep our respiratory droplets to ourselves to prevent spreading germs to others. There is evidence that cloth masks can reduce the spread of respiratory droplets into the air and landing on surfaces. Jurisdictions that have legislated mandatory masks have seen a decrease in new COVID-19 cases.

The use of masks/face coverings is non-invasive, inexpensive, and can help save lives. Masks may also serve as a visual reminder to everyone that we need to be vigilant and continue to maintain physical distance.

Non-medical Masks or Face Coverings

Non-medical masks or face coverings can help keep your respiratory droplets to yourself and protect others when we are unable to maintain physical distancing. The general public should wear non-medical (cloth) masks or face coverings when going to public places, and when entering enclosed public settings. Non-medical masks or face coverings can be made with household items or purchased materials. It is important to use and clean a mask properly (see below). Using a mask incorrectly can accidentally spread infection to the wearer.

Do not use N95 and surgical masks as they are in limited supply, and are urgently needed for healthcare workers. Also be respectful of people who are not wearing a mask. Some health conditions make breathing through a mask difficult.

Qualities of a Good Cloth Mask or Face Covering

A good cloth mask or face covering should:

  • Be at least two layers of tightly woven cotton or linen.
  • Cover over nose, mouth and chin, and be easy to breathe through.
  • Fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops without gaping or impairing vision.
  • Be comfortable to avoid the need for adjustments when wearing.
  • Maintain their shape after washing and drying.
  • Not contain non-breathable materials such as plastic.

For instructions on making a mask using fabric, a t-shirt or a bandana, visit the Government of Canada website.

Proper Use of a Mask or Face Covering

  • Do not share your mask with others.
  • Wash your hands before putting on and after taking off a mask.
  • Place the mask over your nose, mouth and chin.
  • Avoid touching your face and mask while using it.
  • Change your mask as soon as it is moist or dirty.
  • Do not leave your mask tucked under the chin, hanging from your ear, or on your forehead.
  • Remove the mask by the ear loops without touching the front of the mask.
  • Put used mask in a plastic bag or directly in the laundry bin to be washed.
  • Launder cloth masks with other items using the hot cycle and dryer.

People Who Should Not Use Face Masks

  • Children under the age of two.
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing or cannot remove the mask without assistance.

Use of Face Shields as an Alternative to Masks

A face shield is not an alternative to a mask. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that they “do not recommend use of face shields as a substitute for cloth face coverings. It is not known if face shields protect others from the spray of respiratory particles. The CDC does not recommend use of face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for cloth face coverings.”

Use of Masks or Respirators with Exhalation Valves or Exhaust Valves

Masks with an exhalation valve are not recommended because they may filter dust particles in the air as the person inhales, but they may not filter virus particles or respiratory droplets. This means droplets from a person can be spread in a room, reducing the benefit of the mask. Respirators with exhaust valves are also not recommended. These are intended to make the respirator more comfortable for the person who is wearing it, but they can also allow respiratory droplets to spread in room.

Download this information as a PDF.



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

Tips for grocery shopping:

  • Shop once a week and make a list to keep your trip short
  • Only buy what you need for up to two weeks
  • Limit to one household member when shopping
  • Do not touch food or products you are not intending to buy
  • Stay two metres (six feet) from others during lineups and when shopping
  • Wear a cloth mask or face covering
  • Use tap to pay instead of handling cash
  • Clean your hands after you leave the store
  • Respect store hours dedicated to seniors, vulnerable persons, and essential service workers (normally the first hour stores are open)

Read Toronto Public Health’s guidance on shopping for essentials.


Consensual sex can be a way of dealing with anxiety or fulfilling and expressing our needs for intimacy. It can also be pleasurable and help pass the time when isolated indoors. But is it safe to have sex during COVID-19? Sexual contact with new partners or persons who are not in the same household is not recommended at this time.

Safer sexual practices may prevent unintended pregnancy and STIs, but it will not prevent infection from COVID-19. COVID-19 can spread through close physical contact.

Reduce the spread of COVID-19 and still enjoy sex:

  • Your safest sex partner during the COVID-19 pandemic is yourself.
  • Consensual sexting, virtual sex, video dating, or chat rooms.
  • Have a consensual partner that you are living with in the same household.
  • If you usually meet sex partners online, are polyamorous with people who are not living in the same house, or make a living having sex, consider video dates, sexting or chat rooms instead of meeting people in person.

Protect yourself when having sex:

  • Wash your hands before and after having sex, whether alone or with a partner.
  • Use condoms or a glove or condom cut open to reduce contact during oral or anal sex.
  • Use condoms to protect from sexually transmitted infections.
  • Clean sex toys and consider covering them with a condom. Do not share sex toys with others.
  • Avoid kissing and having sex with a partner, if feeling unwell, or if you have COVID-19.
  • Avoid having sex if one partner has a health condition that can lead to more severe illness from COVID-19.

Learn more about safer sex during COVID-19.


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. It is thought that this new coronavirus originated in animals.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that circulate both in humans and animals. Human coronaviruses are common and are typically associated with mild illness, similar to the common cold and spread easily between people. There are however, strains of coronaviruses that have spread from animals to humans which have caused more severe illness in humans in the past, 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 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 2 metres, or 6 feet. It may also 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.

covid-19 mostly spreads from close contact


French Resource:

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.