Last updated: September 18, 2021 at 6:55 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.
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 Buildings Bylaw Amendments
The City of Toronto ensures that tenants live in safe, well-maintained buildings through RentSafeTO: Apartment Building Standards, a bylaw enforcement program. The program covers buildings that are three or more storeys and ten or more units.
Toronto City Council approved temporary amendments to Chapter 354, Apartment Buildings bylaw to protect tenants, staff and visitors of apartment buildings during COVID-19. The amendments require apartment building owners and operators to:
1. Provide hand hygiene stations or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
Apartment building owners and operators must provide hand hygiene stations or alcohol-based hand sanitizer in all common area rooms that remain open. These common areas include building entrances and laundry rooms.
More information about hand hygiene, including recommendations for alcohol-based hand sanitizer, can be found on Toronto Public Health’s Hand Hygiene webpage.
2. Ensure non-essential common areas remain closed as specified by provincial orders
All apartment buildings must close non-essential common areas and other high traffic areas, where required, to be consistent with provincial restrictions.
3. Clean frequently-touched surfaces in all open common areas
As part of the cleaning plan already required under the Apartment Building Bylaw, apartment building owners and operators must also include an updated schedule for cleaning frequently touched surfaces in common areas. These surfaces include: doorknobs, elevator buttons, light switches, toilet handles, counters, hand rails, touch screen surfaces, and keypads located in common areas. These areas must be cleaned with common household cleaners and disinfectants twice daily and when visibly dirty.
4. Post Toronto Public Health signage
Apartment building owners and operators are required to post the following Toronto Public Health signage in their buildings:
Mandatory Masks or Face Coverings in Common Areas
To protect the health and safety of our communities, the City’s Bylaw 541-2020 , as amended by Bylaw 664-2020 requires apartment building owners to have a policy requiring everyone to wear a mask or face covering while in enclosed common spaces, such as elevators, hallways, lobbies, laundry rooms, and any other shared facilities. Toronto Public health has created a sample policy for mandatory masks to help apartment building owners comply with the bylaw.
In addition, apartment building owners are required to:
- Post signage at all entrances to enclosed common areas
- Ensure that everyone working at the apartment building has been trained in the policy and bylaw
- Provide a copy of the policy for inspection by City Bylaw Enforcement Officers, if requested
The City has created signage that building operators can print off and display in common areas. A fact sheet on how to properly and safely wear and care for a non-medical mask is also available on the City’s website.
At its meeting on April 7 and 8, 2021, City Council approved an additional change to the City’s Mask Bylaw, adopting Bylaw 263-2021 , which requires individuals to wear masks or face coverings in common areas in apartment buildings and condominiums. Offences for violating the mask bylaw carry a fine of $1000. If a court summons is issued, following a conviction, the Court may impose a maximum fine of $5,000.
Learn more about the mandatory use of masks and/or face coverings.
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 & 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, student residences 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. mask/face coverings, apartment building bylaw).
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. 364/20. 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.
- 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 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.
- Consider whether some tasks can be completed by the tenant themselves, rather than management entering the unit (e.g., replacing furnace filters).
- 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)
- Operators must ensure any indoor fitness centres or other indoor recreational facilities operate in compliance with Reg. 364/20. See Guidance for Indoor & Outdoor Sports & Recreational Fitness Facilities for more information.
- Pools and other aquatic amenities must also comply with Reg. 364/20. See Guidance for Recreational Water Facilities for more information.
- Organized public events and social gatherings must be limited to 100 people or less outdoors and 25 people or less indoors, with physical distancing.
- 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, personal protective equipment (PPE) and preventing and controlling crowding.
- 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
- Encourage tenants, guests and staff who are 12 years of age and older to get vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine. Read and share information about the vaccine and where to get vaccinated.
- 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.
Download this information as a PDF.
Information for Residents in Residential Buildings
Mandatory masks or face coverings in common areas
Under the City of Toronto’s Mask Bylaw you are required to wear a mask or face covering in enclosed common areas in apartment buildings and condominiums, such as elevators, hallways, lobbies, laundry rooms, and any other shared facilities.
What you can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19
- Get a COVID-19 vaccination when available to you.
- Wear a mask or face covering in indoor public spaces, and outdoors when physical distancing is difficult.
- Practice physical distancing by keeping at least two metres away from people you don’t live with.
- Wash hands with soap and water or use 70-90% alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Download the COVID Alert app so you can be notified if you have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.
- See Reduce Virus Spread and the COVID-19 Guide for Residents for more information.
- Don’t shake dirty laundry. This will minimize the possibility of dispersing any virus that may be present into the air.
- Wash clothes with soap or detergent. Use the hottest water the fabric can handle and dry clothes completely — these steps help to kill the virus.
- Try to do your laundry at a time when there are fewer people using the laundry area.
- Disinfect the surfaces of all machines before and after you do your laundry, and don’t touch your face.
- Wash or disinfect your laundry bag/ hamper.
- Wash your hands with soap and water, or use a 70-90% alcohol-based hand sanitizer, immediately after handling dirty laundry.
- Limit your time in the shared laundry spaces (e.g. fold your clean laundry at home)
Elevators and building amenities
- Limit the number of people per elevator, and keep at least two metres from people you do not live with.
- Respect that members of the same household can use the elevator without needing to physically distance.
- Respect capacity limits of building amenities, which may be less than provincial gatherings limits to accommodate physical distancing.
- Expect having to make an appointment to use building amenities.
- Expect extra time between appointments to allow for cleaning and disinfecting.
- If possible, pick up deliveries in the lobby to reduce the number of visitors in the building.
- Ask for deliveries to be made directly to your unit only when necessary, such as if you are self-isolating, caring for a family member or require accessibility support.
Property management must:
- Create a policy to ensure building staff, residents and guests wear a mask or face covering while in indoor common areas, including elevators, hallways and lobbies.
- Ensure workers, such as repair people and contractors, wear masks or face coverings inside the building and in apartment units.
- Provide 70-90% alcohol-based hand sanitizer in all essential common areas that remain open such as laundry areas and lobbies.
- Ensure any washrooms, locker rooms, change rooms, showers or similar amenities made available to the public are cleaned and disinfected as frequently as is necessary to maintain a sanitary condition.
- Ensure high-touch surfaces in common areas are cleaned at least twice per day and when visibly dirty, including doorknobs, elevator buttons, light switches, toilet handles, counters, hand rails, touch screen surfaces and keypads.
- Provide advance notice of any upcoming urgent work that requires access to resident units
- Reduce the number of service or other requests that require entry into residential units, and limit these to essential services while following provincial recommendations.
- Place markers (e.g. floor markings, pylons) around the building to encourage physical distancing (e.g. at the front desk, outside and inside elevators).
- Post signs in visible locations to raise awareness about preventing the spread of COVID-19.
*If tenants are unable to resolve issues around following public health guidelines with their landlord or property manager, they can call 311 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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