Effective Saturday, October 10, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., the Province is implementing targeted measures in Toronto to help stop the spread of COVID-19, including the closure of interactive exhibits or exhibits with high-risk of personal contact in museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, etc. The information below will be updated shortly to reflect these changes.

Last updated: October 9, 2020 at 4:40 p.m.

Read Toronto Public Health’s Guidance for Cultural and Heritage Institutions and Attractions (also available below) and the tips for the public taking part in community activities.

COVID-19 Guidance for Cultural & Heritage Institutions & Attractions

The following recommendations are intended to help operators and staff working at museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, outdoor heritage institutions (e.g. landmarks, outdoor historic sites, botanical gardens), and other establishments primarily engaged in preserving and exhibiting objects, sites and natural wonders of historical, cultural and educational value to reduce the spread of COVID-19. As every site will be different, it is ultimately the responsibility of facility operators to review their own policies, procedures and site-specific circumstances and assess their ability to operate while ensuring that the appropriate infection prevention and control measures are implemented and maintained.

Updated information about COVID-19 can be found in Toronto Public Health’s COVID-19 Fact Sheet.

Recommendations for operators to reduce the spread of COVID-19

Screen employees for COVID-19 symptoms before work

  • Ensure all staff complete a health screening questionnaire before each shift. The questions can be completed on paper, online or by asking staff directly.

Implement attendance policies for staff

  • Maintain a list of the names and contact information of staff (and other service providers) that work in the museum or facility.
  • Require sick staff to stay at home.
  • Remind staff about the importance of reporting illness to their supervisor/manager.
    • If a staff becomes sick with COVID-19 symptoms while at work, they should go home immediately and self-isolate.
    • Staff experiencing symptoms can call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000, their health care provider or an assessment centre for testing.
    • Staff who have travelled anywhere outside of Canada must stay home and self-isolate for 14 days after returning to Canada.
  • Establish criteria for staff to return to work:
    • In general, if a staff person had COVID-19 they are able to resume working 14 days after their symptoms began.
    • For other illnesses, or if the individual received a negative COVID-19 test, they should not attend work until they are symptom-free for at least 24 hours.
    • Clearance tests are not required for return to work.

Implement measures to ensure physical distancing

  • Plan and modify the layout of the facility to ensure enough space is provided for customers and staff to maintain physical distancing of two metres/six feet.
  • Limit the number of customers permitted into the museum or facility at a time:
    • Consider operating by appointment only.
    • Position an employee at the entrance to control customer entry.
    • Monitor the number of people entering and leaving the facility.
    • Encourage customers to pre-purchase tickets online prior to arrival at facility.
    • Stagger scheduling of arrivals and departures to limit contact between customers (e.g. timed entry on tickets).
    • Once the maximum number of customers is reached, allow one person in for every person that leaves.
  • To calculate the maximum number of people that should be permitted in the facility at any one time. A good rule of thumb is one person per two metres square (four squared metres) of publicly accessible floor space.
    • Post signage at the entrance indicating the maximum number of customers that can be permitted at any one time.
  • Provide visible queues for customers who might be waiting in line outside the facility by placing markers such as tape, safety cones/pylons or painted lines every two metres (six feet).
  • Maintain physical distancing between people within the facility:
    • Managed visitor flow for the whole facility (e.g. creating one-way aisles with prominent signage and/or floor markings).
    • Use digital apps with maps and audio tour guides for assisting customers though facility.
    • Place tape on the floor two metres (six feet) apart for lining up at service counters (e.g. cashiers) and other areas where customers tend to stand.
    • Assign an employee to direct customers to through the various parts of the facility as they become available.
    • Space seating and activity stations at least two metres (six feet) apart, if applicable.
  • Utilize other measures in areas where physical distancing is difficult to maintain:
    • Set-up portable barriers around employees when managing exhibit areas.
    • Install plexiglass dividers at cashiers or any other service counter where staff are required to be in close contact with customers.
    • Consider staggering the number ticket stations open at any given time (e.g. every other station is used).
  • Presentations in auditoriums, theatres and large demonstration halls are permitted in Stage 3, as per the Province’s A Framework for Reopening our Province.
    • Limit indoor gatherings to a maximum of 50 people or less, to maintain physical distancing.
    • Provide visible queues for customers inside the room by placing markers such as tape, safety cones/pylons or painted lines every two metres (six feet).
    • Post signage at the entrance indicating the maximum number of customers that can be permitted at any one time.
    • Limit the number of customers permitted into the room at a time.
      • Position an employee at the entrance of the room to control customer entry.

Screen attendees

  • All customers and visitors should complete a self-screening questionnaire (for adults or children) before entering the facility.
  • Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 or has been in contact with a person with COVID-19 should not be allowed in.
  • Make alcohol-based hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol concentration) available for use by the entrance.

Practice proper glove use

  • Glove use is not a substitute for proper hand hygiene.
  • If staff use gloves, it is important to change them every hour, or more often, as necessary.
    • Hands should be washed and/or sanitized between changes.
    • Remove gloves when changing tasks.
    • When gloves are removed, new gloves must be used each time.

Support contact tracing

  • It is recommended that operators collect the names and contact information of staff and customers (children and their guardian) who attend the facility (i.e. name, date, check in and check out time, phone number and/or email address). This is to support public health contact tracing efforts in the event that an attendee tests positive or an outbreak is identified.
  • Providing information is voluntary for customers. Operators must obtain a person’s consent and inform them of the purpose and legal authority for collection. Operators must make reasonable security arrangements to protect personal information (e.g. locked drawer in private office).
  • Any personal information that is collected for COVID-19 contract tracing can only be used for this purpose, unless an individual provides their consent. Records should only be kept for 30 days, and then shredded.
  • Toronto Public Health will use this list to notify and provide instructions for close contacts to self-isolate or self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Additional public health advice in the event of an outbreak may include additional cleaning and disinfecting measures to reduce the risk of spread in the setting.
  • Encourage staff and customers 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.

Practice proper use of cloth and non-medical face masks

  • The use of non-medical masks or face coverings is required in all indoor public spaces, as per a new City of Toronto bylaw. Operators are required to develop a policy and protocols on the wearing of masks. More information is available here.
  • Train staff on the proper use of masks, and how to safely put on and take off a mask.
  • Masks do not replace the need for physical distancing, hand washing, and staying home when sick.

Increase communication with customers and staff

  • Post signs at all entrances instructing customers and staff not to enter or visit if they are sick.
  • Post educational materials in high visibility areas to encourage behaviours to prevent transmission such as:
  • Provide frequent reminders over the public announcement system to customers about physical distancing and any other key messages (e.g. sanitize hands at entrance, stay home if feeling ill, no gathering/crowding in one area, ensure two metres (six feet) apart in line-ups, and that highly interactive exhibits are prohibited).
  • Information can also be communicated on the museum or other facility’s website, and through automated telephone messages, newsprint and e-mail subscriptions.

Support and encourage proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette

  • Educate staff and customers on proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
  • Remove all interactive displays and activities within the museum or facility where possible, including costumes, interactive artifacts, tools, etc.
  • Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol concentration) in dispensers near entrances, service counters and other high touch locations for customer and staff use. Monitor and refill as needed.
  • Avoid touching your face, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Post Cover your Cough, Hand Washing and Hand Sanitizing signage in visible locations.

Enhance environmental cleaning and disinfection

  • Assign dedicated facility staff to complete environmental cleaning and disinfection duties.
  • Ensure frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces and objects in public areas (e.g. handrails, doorknobs, tabletops) at least twice a day and when visibly dirty.
  • Educate facility staff on how to use cleaning agents and disinfectants, and ensure:
    • Required disinfectant contact times are followed (i.e. amount of time that the product will need to remain wet on a surface to achieve disinfection).
    • Use of safety precautions and required personal protective equipment (PPE).
    • Directions for where and how to securely store cleaning and disinfectant supplies.
  • Maintain cleanliness of staff/vendor washrooms and other areas as necessary.
  • Provide waste receptacles lined with a plastic bag, and empty as often as necessary.
  • Encourage use of elbows, instead of fingers, for activating buttons on displays and exhibits, when applicable.
  • Monitor and clean the parking lot daily and as necessary (e.g. for discarded gloves, masks, litter).