Last updated: April 6, 2021 at 7:05 p.m.
Toronto Public Health’s Guidance for Commercial or Residential Buildings (also available below) 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. Also read Toronto Public Health’s information for residents in residential buildings.
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.
Read also Toronto Public Health’s Guidance for Cooling Rooms in multi-unit residential buildings during the COVID-19 pandemic, and tips for staying healthy in hot weather.
On January 4, 2021, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health issued a Letter of Instruction to all employers in the City of Toronto permitted to be open under the Reopening Ontario Act. Employers permitted to be open are required to take the additional measures set out in this Letter to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Apartment Building Bylaw Amendments
Toronto City Council approved temporary amendments to Chapter 354, Apartment Buildings bylaw in response to COVID-19. The amendments include COVID-19 health and safety measures that need to be taken by apartment building owners and operators, such as providing hand sanitizer in common areas, keeping non-essential common areas closed, cleaning frequently-touched surfaces, and posting Toronto Public Health signage. Visit the RentSafeTO for Building Owner page for full details.
Landlords Entering a Rental Unit
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.
COVID-19 Guidance for Commercial and Residential Buildings
The following guidance is for owners/operators of commercial and residential buildings to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 in multi-residential buildings such as hotels, condominiums, apartment buildings and other similar vertical living spaces. For more information, see COVID-19 Information for Residents in Residential Buildings and visit toronto.ca/COVID19.
The aim and purpose of this document is to assist individuals and businesses with information related to the Ontario Government’s reopening framework as well as Toronto Public Health requirements to reduce the spread of COVID-19. It is important to know that breaches of some of these directions will constitute offences under provincial regulations or other public health legal requirements. While we aim to provide relevant and timely information, no guarantee can be given as to the accuracy or completeness of any information provided. This guidance is not intended to nor does it provide legal advice and should not be relied upon or treated as legal advice. Users seeking legal advice should consult with a qualified legal professional.
Owners and operators of commercial and residential buildings should consider the public health guidelines below, as well as City of Toronto and provincial requirements. Owners and operators must ensure that they stay current and comply with the provincial orders (e.g. limits on size of gatherings) and City of Toronto orders, directives, and bylaws (e.g. physical distancing, mask/face coverings).
Use of non-medical face masks and coverings
- Masks or face coverings are mandatory within enclosed common areas of apartment buildings and condominium buildings as per the City of Toronto bylaw and indoor public spaces as per Reg. 82/20. Examples of enclosed common areas include elevators, hallways, lobbies, laundry rooms and other shared facilities.
- Building operators are required to create a policy to ensure that everyone wears a mask or face covering while in these shared enclosed spaces. The mask or face covering must cover the wearer’s mouth, nose, and chin. See our website for the proper use of masks and how to safely put on and take off a mask.
- Owners and operators should use the mask by-law checklist and sample policy to also ensure that:
- they post signs that contain the text included in the City of Toronto bylaw at all entrances to enclosed common areas;
- all persons working at the apartment building or condominium are trained in the requirements of the policy and the provisions of the bylaw that apply to apartment buildings and condominium buildings; and
- they can provide a copy of their policy for inspection by City bylaw enforcement officers.
- During a visit into a tenant’s unit or guest’s room, staff must wear a non-medical mask.
- Appropriate personal protective equipment (such as mask, face shield, eye protection) that covers the eyes, nose and mouth must be worn by staff if, while providing service in an indoor area, they:
- are required to come within two metres of another person who is not wearing a mask or face covering; and
- are not separated by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier from a person described above.
- Masks are also required in the public and shared spaces of hotels, motels, and premises used for open houses. See more information about the City of Toronto bylaw on our website.
Practice physical distancing
- Guests, tenants and staff must maintain at least two metres/six feet physical distancing from those they don’t live with when possible.
- Property management should assess whether an impending service request is essential, and to postpone the service if it is not urgent.
- Property management should provide advanced notification to tenant of impending work.
- Staff carrying out essential work should do so in a separate room if the tenant is home, or keeping a physical distance between the staff and guests/tenant.
- In-house food services preparing food for room service should use single-use containers and cutlery.
- Room service staff should not interact with hotel guests and should leave food orders at the door and be picked up by the guests.
- Install plexiglass or other barriers, if possible, where there may be close contact between staff and patrons at service counters or security desks.
- Any required meetings such as annual general meetings, condo board meetings, or hearings that typically take place in person should be carried out using alternative methods such as video conferencing.
- Ensure residents can receive deliveries of essential goods, like medications and groceries/meals, to their unit if necessary (e.g. those who may be self-isolating, require accessibility supports, or cannot leave due to family care needs).
- Residents who are able to should pick up deliveries in the lobby to reduce the number of visitors in the building.
Accessing indoor and outdoor building amenities
(e.g. gyms, pools, party rooms, communal gardens, barbeque/picnic areas)
- Hotels, motels, lodges, cabins, cottages, resorts and other shared rental accommodation, including student residences, must ensure any indoor pools, indoor fitness centres, or other indoor recreational facilities that are part of the operation of these businesses, are closed.
- All apartment buildings must close non-essential common areas such as gyms, pools, spas (whirlpool, hot tubs), playrooms and other high traffic areas to be consistent with provincial restrictions, as per Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 354, Apartment Buildings.
- Toronto Public Health strongly recommends that all condominiums close non-essential common areas such as gyms, pools, spas (whirlpool, hot tubs), playrooms and other high-traffic areas to be consistent with provincial restrictions.
- Pools and other aquatic amenities that remain open must comply with Guidance for Recreational Water Facilities.
- Available building amenities should be used by one household at a time.
- Social gatherings are not permitted indoors except with members of the same household. Limit outdoor social gatherings to no more than 5 people.
- Cancel or hold virtually as much as possible all in-person activities that are discretionary.
- Implement a scheduling system for use of available amenities, as appropriate:
- Schedule access through use of designated timeslots.
- Allow extra time between usage for cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces and equipment (e.g. barbeque equipment).
- Use floor markings, pylons, or signs to encourage staff/residents/guests to maintain physical distancing while using amenities.
- Designate and clearly mark specific, separate entrances and exits for staff, tenants and guests as appropriate, and only permit entry and exit through these doors.
- Keep doors and windows open, where possible, to minimize the touching of door handles and increase ventilation, while maintaining the appropriate security.
Measures for all Workplaces, Businesses & Organizations
Review the Guidance for Employers on Preventing COVID-19 in the Workplace to plan and implement protocols to keep staff, tenants and visitors safe. Operators must also consider the following:
- Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
- Make hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol concentration) available at entrances and in common areas, such as bathrooms, laundry rooms, gyms, playrooms and other high-traffic areas.
- Encourage staff, tenants, and visitors to wash hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer, if soap and water are not available.
The person responsible for a business that is open shall prepare and make available a safety plan. It is strongly recommended that condominiums also prepare a safety plan. The plan must:
- Describe measures/procedures that have been or will be implemented in the business, place, facility or establishment to reduce spread of COVID.
- Include measures for screening, physical distancing, masks, cleaning, disinfecting and personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Be in writing and made available to any person for review, on request.
- Be posted in a visible place to come to the attention of those working or attending the location.
Use the COVID-19 Safety Plan Checklist to develop your safety plan.
Maintain heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
- Increase the introduction and circulation of outdoor air by maximizing the outdoor air ratio of the HVAC system settings, or by opening windows and doors, where possible. Avoid recirculating air.
- Ensure the HVAC system(s) are properly maintained.
- Where provided, use the highest efficiency filters that are compatible with the HVAC system.
- Increase air-exchanges if possible.
- Keep areas near HVAC inlets and outlets clear.
- Seating should be arranged away from areas with high airflow (i.e. not in front of air vents).
- Facilities without HVAC systems should increase ventilation by opening windows and doors. However, do not open windows and doors if doing so poses a safety risk to staff and residents.
- Rooms where ceiling fans are used should have an upward airflow rotation.
- If portable fans are used, limit the blowing of air across people and surfaces by positioning them to provide an upward movement of air.
- There is no evidence for the use of portable air purifiers to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If used, follow the manufacturer’s directions (and possibly the advice of a service professional) to decide where best to place the device. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on maintenance.
- For more information, review the COVID-19: Transmission, Aerosols and Ventilation fact sheet.
Resources to encourage public health measures
- Post information in high-traffic areas such as elevators, lobbies, and shared laundry areas, to increase compliance with public health measures:
- Encourage staff, tenants and visitors to download the COVID Alert app so they can be notified directly if they have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.