Last updated: June 16, 2021 at 2:45 p.m.

Employers must immediately notify Toronto Public Health when they become aware of two or more people who test positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period in their workplace. Learn more about what to do if an employee has COVID-19 and preview the reporting tool.

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.

Download printable posters and information cards for your setting and learn about supports available for businesses.

 

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. These employers are required to take the additional measures set out in this Letter to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

This factsheet will help employers understand their responsibility to notify Toronto Public Health (TPH) about COVID-19 cases in the workplace, and how workplace outbreak information will be disclosed to the public.

Immediate notification to Toronto Public Health

Employers must immediately notify Toronto Public Health via the Workplace Reporting Tool as soon as they become aware of two or more people who test positive for COVID-19 within a
14-day interval in connection with their workplace premises.

Reporting cases of COVID-19 to reduce virus spread

  • As a part of our role as a designated Public Health Unit in the Province of Ontario, TPH is made aware of all individuals in the city of Toronto who test positive for COVID-19. As a part of its case and contact management process, TPH staff interview each person with COVID-19 as soon as possible to ensure that they are self-isolating, and to help them identify people who may have been exposed to the virus while they were contagious.
  • Immediately reporting two or more COVID-19 cases within the workplace will help TPH investigate clusters of COVID-19 cases in the workplace in order to:
    • determine if the infection was acquired at the workplace;
    • assess the risk of transmission to others; and
    • provide timely advice to employers to ensure the health and safety of others is protected.

Report cases of COVID-19 in the workplace using the COVID-19 Workplace Reporting Tool.

Workplace vs. employer

  • The workplace refers to the physical place of work – not the employer. A workplace can be any land, premises, location or thing at, upon, in or near which a worker works.
  • The employer refers to a person, company, or organization that employs people or has under its service a person engaged in work.
  • For example, City Hall is a workplace, while the City of Toronto is an employer.
  • If an employer becomes aware of two or more people who test positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period, and those people have a connection to the same physical place of work, the employer must notify TPH.
  • Large employers that have many workplaces only need to notify TPH when there are two or more cases in the same workplace setting (e.g. the same office).

Examples:

Joe’s Auto Shop
Winnie’s Green Grocer
Employee Susanna tested positive for COVID-19 on January 2.
Co-op student Preya tested positive for COVID-19 on January 9.
Two people tested positive within a 14-day period
Both Susanna and Preya work at the Leaside auto shop location
Joe must notify TPH immediately.
Ahmed works at 200 Warden Ave., and tested positive for COVID-19 on February 15.
Ilana works at 96 Jane St., and tested positive for COVID-19 on February 28.
Two people tested positive within a 14- day period
✘ Ahmed and Ilana work at different grocery locations
Winnie does not need to notify TPH.

People at the workplace

  • People may enter a workplace for a variety of reasons. They may be an employee, contracted worker, customer, visitor, etc.
  • The employer shall report to TPH if they are aware of two or more people – workers, customers and/or visitors – at their workplace who have tested positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period.
  • Employees must report any situation in the workplace that is likely to be harmful to the health or safety of others in the workplace. This includes one’s potential exposure to COVID-19 that caused or may cause illness to another person.
    • For example, if Gary tested positive for COVID-19 and was at the workplace while he was contagious, Gary must tell his employer as other people may now be infected.
  • Staff must complete a health screening questionnaire before each shift, as per provincial recommendations. Staff must stay home and self-isolate if they:
    • have new or worsening symptoms of COVID-19;
    • have had close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19; and/or
    • have travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days.

Designated contact person

  • When notifying TPH of two or more cases in the workplace, employers provide the name and contact information for a designated person who can provide TPH with the details about the COVID-19 cases in your workplace.
  • The contact person must:
    • be readily available to communicate with TPH; and
    • ensure any additional health and safety measures are implemented immediately, as required by TPH.

Contact information for workers

  • Employers must maintain accurate and up-to-date contact information (e.g. name, telephone number, email address) for all workers.
  • This information must be made available within 24 hours of notifying TPH of the COVID-19 cases in the workplace.
  • This information will be used by TPH to conduct case and contact management.

Infection prevention and control

  • Toronto Public Health will conduct an investigation of workplace outbreaks in some circumstances.
  • Employers must cooperate with infection prevention and control personnel from TPH, which may include:
    • allowing entry into the workplace premises for inspection; and
    • implementing additional measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to other people.

Other reporting requirements

  • In addition to notifying TPH, businesses must ensure that the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development and/or other relevant government authorities (e.g. WSIB) have been notified in accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and other applicable law.
  • More information is available on the Province of Ontario’s website.

Disclosing information about workplace outbreaks

On January 18, 2021, the Toronto Board of Health requested the Medical Officer of Health to publicly post the names of workplaces with COVID-19 outbreaks on a weekly basis.

What information will be disclosed?

  • TPH will disclose workplace outbreak information in a way that maintains and protects individual privacy. Information will include:
    • The number of active and cumulative workplace outbreaks in Toronto.
    • The names of workplaces in Toronto with an active outbreak.
  • Data about all workplace outbreaks will be organized by sector.

Why is this information being disclosed?

  • To keep the public and employers informed about where outbreaks are occurring.
  • These outbreak reports are similar to those that TPH publishes for outbreaks in other settings such as schools (public and private), child care centres, shelters and congregate living settings, long-term care and retirement homes (public and private), and health care institutions.

Where will information be available?

When will information be available?

  • The dashboard will be updated weekly.

How will information be displayed?

  • Workplaces will be grouped into the following categories:
  • Bar, restaurant, nightclub and other entertainment venues
  • Event venues, and religious facilities
  • Non-institutional medical health services, including doctor’s offices, physiotherapy clinics, dental settings and wellness clinics
  • Personal service settings including hair salons, tattoo parlours, nail salons and spas
  • Recreational fitness facilities, group fitness classes, team sports and related events
  • Retail settings including grocery stores, pharmacies and malls
  • Farms
  • Food processing plants
  • Offices, warehouses, shipping and distribution, construction, and manufacturing settings
  • Other workplaces and community settings not captured in these categories
  • Unknown

Other Resources

Have questions? Call Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600 (8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.).


Download this information as a PDF.

As health authorities around the world take action to contain the spread of COVID-19, employers must also play a role in stopping the spread of this disease. This guidance document describes the requirements of employers as per provincial regulations and local orders and directives. It also provides simple strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace to keep everyone safe. These strategies can and should be adapted to meet the unique needs of every workplace. Additional guidance for various sectors are found in the Other Resources section at the end of this document.

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.

Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health issued a Class Order enabling TPH to require the full or partial closure of workplaces, or dismissal of teams or shifts, to manage COVID-19 outbreaks effective April 23, 2021. This order applies to all persons who own or operate or occupy a workplace in the City of Toronto, with limited exceptions, and to all workers at any workplace to which the Order applies.

General Guidance

  • Encourage employees to get vaccinated.
  • Visit our website at toronto.ca/COVID19 often, as information changes frequently.
  • Develop strategies to minimize exposure to COVID-19.
  • Provide staff training on the required public health measures.
  • Limit number of staff, clients and customers in indoor settings to allow for physical distancing and to comply with capacity limits, as per provincial regulations.
  • Schedule frequent cleaning and disinfection of high-touch items, surfaces, and washrooms.
  • Inform staff, clients and customers about actions you are taking to keep everyone safe.
  • Review the Guidance for Employers on Managing COVID-19 in the Workplace to plan and implement protocols to keep staff and customers safe.

Roles and Responsibilities of the Employer and Employee during COVID-19

Employer Responsibilities

Employee Responsibilities

  • Keep workers and workplaces safe and free of hazards.
  • Read the guide to the Occupational Health and Safety Act to understand all of your health and safety rights and responsibilities.
  • Understand COVID-19 risks.
  • Control COVID-19 risks in the workplace.
  • Develop a COVID-19 workplace safety plan.
  • Comply with any advice, recommendations and instructions by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and City of Toronto bylaws relevant to your organization.
  • Refuse unsafe work and promptly report the circumstances to your employer or supervisor.
  • Understand and follow your employers’ workplace health and safety directions (e.g., use or wear the personal protective equipment that your employer requires).
  • Follow direction from public health officials.
  • Report any circumstance in the workplace that is likely to be hazardous to the health or safety of others in the workplace. This includes reporting one’s own potential exposure to COVID-19 that caused or is likely to cause illness to another person.

Safety Plan

  • All businesses and workplaces are required to prepare a safety plan. This safety plan must:
  • Describe measures/procedures that have been or will be implemented in the business, place, facility or establishment to reduce spread of COVID-19.
  • Include measures for screening, physical distancing, masks, cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and objects, and the wearing of 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.
  • Assign a lead person who will be responsible for developing and implementing the safety plan.
  • Use the COVID-19 Safety Plan Checklist to develop your safety plan.

Health Screening for Staff and Customers

The person responsible for the business or organization must comply with any advice, recommendations, and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health on screening employees and patrons (O Reg 82/20).

Note changes to screening tool: Individuals who received a COVID-19 vaccination in the last 48 hours and are experiencing mild headache, fatigue, muscle ache and/or joint pain may be permitted to enter the workplace if:

  • They are not experiencing any other symptoms and pass all other screening questions, and
  • They wear a surgical/procedure mask for their entire work shift. The mask may be removed only to eat or drink while keeping two metres/six feet distance from others.
  • Staff must complete a health screening questionnaire before each shift. The questions can be completed on paper, online or by asking staff directly.
  • Screening should occur before or when a worker enters the workplace at the beginning of their day or shift, or when an essential visitor arrives.
  • Designate an area outside, near the main entrance, as a screening station for in-person screening.
    • The area should be clearly identifiable as the screening station.
    • Post signs in visible locations clearly explaining the screening process and conditions for entry.
    • The area must allow for a minimum of two metres/six feet distance between staff conducting screening and the individual being screened. Alternatively, a protective barrier (e.g. plexiglass) may be equipped around the screening station.
    • If physical distancing or a barrier is not possible, staff conducting the screening should wear appropriate personal protective equipment including a surgical/procedure mask and eye protection (goggles or face shield).
    • Use visual markers/cues (e.g. tape on the floor, pylons, signs) as a guide for physical distancing for staff, person being screened and persons waiting to be screened.
  • Temperature checks are not required, nor recommended.
  • If staff become sick with COVID-19 symptoms while at work, they should go home right away and self-isolate. Instruct them to call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000, their health care provider or an Assessment Centre to get tested.
  • Ask all clients and customers to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms prior to entry to your workplace or business.
    • Display posters at entrances informing people that they must not enter if they have symptoms.
    • Clients and customers can also be asked to complete the provincial screening tool for customers online prior to entering a place of business.

Rapid Antigen Testing

  • Rapid antigen testing, also called Point-of-Care (POC) testing, is a test that can be done on-site for asymptomatic workers. The test is conducted by a health professional or trained individual and results are ready in 15 minutes.
  • If rapid testing is used, it should only be performed as a second screening step for workers who have passed the health screening questionnaire.
  • Rapid testing should not be used to diagnose COVID-19 for a person who has symptoms or who has been exposed to person with COVID-19.
  • A person with a positive result from a rapid test must seek laboratory-based PCR testing within 24 hours. They must isolate while waiting for their confirmatory test result.
  • Rapid testing does not replace other public health measures such as physical distancing and masking, even if a person tests negative.
  • The Provincial Antigen Screening Program provides free rapid antigen test kits to eligible businesses with >150 employees. For more information read the Ontario News Release. To see if your business is eligible, visit the Provincial Antigen Testing Program
  • The City of Toronto has partnered with the Toronto Region Board of Trade to provide free COVID-19 rapid screening kits to small- and medium-sized businesses across Toronto. Eligible businesses can visit bot.com/rapidscreening for more information, to order their initial four-week supply of testing kits and to book a time slot for pick-up.

Staff Attendance and Operations

  • Employers must enable and support workers to work remotely wherever possible, and accommodate household needs related to virtual education and dependent care.
    • Cancel or hold virtually all in-person activities that are discretionary.
    • Host virtual meetings.
  • Keep a list of the names and contact information of all staff, workers and essential visitors who enter the workplace, including for in-person meetings or events. This will support contact tracing.
    • This information must be kept for 30 days and then shredded.
    • This information must be provided to Toronto Public Health upon request.

Note: Some businesses are also required to maintain contact information for all patrons/visitors who enter their facility or use their services, including:

  • Community centres and multi-purpose facilities
  • Indoor and outdoor sports and recreational fitness facilities
  • Indoor shopping malls
  • Public libraries
  • Restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments
  • Teaching and instruction services/programs
  • Remind staff about the importance of staying home when they are sick and reporting illness to their supervisor/manager.
  • Make plans to operate with different levels of employee absenteeism due to illness, ill-dependants, or for child care during school closures.
  • Plan business functions, jobs, roles and critical elements within your business that are essential or critical when public health restrictions are in place, or if staffing levels are reduced.
  • Non-essential work travel, including within Canada, should be avoided.
  • Travellers entering Canada must self-isolate for 14 days after they return from travel anywhere outside of Canada, including the United States.
  • Healthy individuals that cross the border and are performing an essential job or function are exempt from self-isolation under the Quarantine Act, but they must self-monitor for symptoms.
    For more information on travel restrictions, visit the Government of Canada website.

Prepare for staff reporting sick

  • Have a flexible sick policy so staff do not come to work when they are ill.
  • Ensure that all employees are aware of the income replacement and workplace-related benefits they are entitled to if they have to isolate due to symptoms of COVID-19, being tested for COVID-19, or being a close contact of someone with COVID-19.
  • Use the staff screening questionnaire (p. 2) to determine when it is safe to return to work.
  • Toronto Public Health does not recommend that employers require clearance testing or doctor’s notes for return to work.
  • Review the Guidance for Employers on Managing COVID-19 in the Workplace to know what to do if an employee tests positive for COVID-19.

Promote Physical Distancing

  • Employers are required to ensure that physical distancing of at least two metres/six feet takes place by staff throughout the workplace and during eating and rest periods (e.g., lunchrooms, change rooms, washrooms).
    • Masks and physical barriers provide added layers of protection, but are not substitutes for physical distancing.
  • Limit the number of staff and contractors present at the workplace at any given time.
    • Enable flexible work hours and schedules.
    • Stagger work shifts and breaks to reduce gathering in common areas (e.g. entrance, lunch room, locker room).
    • Assign staff to groups that are physically separated in different areas or have rotating schedules, if possible, so that groups do not mix at any time.
    • Assign workstations and equipment to a single user if possible, or limit the number of users.
    • Post signs with the number of people allowed into the premise and within each room/space.
  • Minimize instances of more than one individual in a vehicle for driving associated with work. If unavoidable, ensure face coverings are worn in the vehicle (preferably medical masks), and drive with the windows open.
  • Encourage staff who carpool to limit the number of passengers in their car, not to drive or ride if they are sick, and to follow public health guidance for taxis and ride-share vehicles.

Limit capacity

  • Subject to any other provisions within Reg. 82/20, businesses and facilities open to the public must limit the number of members of the public in the facility so that:
    • Members of the public are able to maintain at least two metres/six feet physical distancing from people they don’t live with, and
    • The total number of members of the public does not exceed 50% capacity.
  • 50% capacity can be calculated by taking the total square metres of floor space accessible to the public (excluding shelves and fixed structures) and dividing that number by 8.
  • Some businesses, organizations and services are subject to different capacity restrictions (e.g. places of worship, retail). See sector specific guidance for details.

Modify services and space to promote physical distancing

  • Modify services to reduce the number of customers present at the same time:
    • Provide services online or by phone whenever possible.
    • Offer mail, product or curb-side delivery, and follow contact-less delivery practices.
  • Modify and manage the physical space to promote physical distancing:
    • Install one-way walkways to reduce close physical interactions.
    • Remove surplus furniture and supplies from rooms and walkways to allow ease of movement while maintaining physical distancing.
    • Move or tape off furniture in lunch rooms, meeting rooms, etc. so staff or customers cannot sit within two metres/six feet from each other.
    • Close off alternate work stations and/or customer service windows/check-outs where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
    • Use visual markers (e.g. tape on the floor, pylons, signs) to remind people where to stand to keep two metre/six foot distance from others (e.g. on a production line).
    • Implement physical barriers (e.g. plexiglass), when physical distancing is not possible.
      • The height of the barrier should take into account the tallest user and should consider the user’s breathing zone, which generally extends 30 centimeters or 12 inches around (and above) the mid-point of a person’s face.
      • Physical distancing is always preferable to the use of barriers.
    • Use outdoor space whenever possible.
  • Manage employee and patron lines inside and outside the business or place.
    • Operators must ensure customers maintain two metres/six feet distance from other groups of persons and wear a mask or face covering while in line inside the business or place.
    • Operators are required to ensure that patrons maintain two metres/six feet physical distance from other groups of persons while in line or congregating outside the business or place. Masks are recommended while waiting in line outdoors.
  • Post physical distancing signs at all entrances, employee rooms, elevators, and public areas (e.g. cashiers, service counters).

Encourage Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette

  • Post Wash your Hands, Cover your Cough, Protect Yourself signs in high traffic areas.
  • Ensure hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol concentration) and hand-washing facilities are provided in work and rest areas throughout the facility.
  • Ensure an adequate supply of liquid soap, paper towel, hand sanitizer, tissues, and waste receptacles throughout the workplace, and in washrooms.
  • Glove use is not a substitute for proper hand hygiene.
    • If gloves are used, it is important to change them every hour, or more often, as necessary (e.g. when changing tasks).
    • Hands should be washed and/or sanitized between changes.
    • When gloves are removed, new gloves must be used each time.
  • Educate staff on proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.

Enhance Cleaning and Disinfection

  • Implement rigorous and frequent environmental cleaning and disinfection in all high-touch areas and areas that are accessible to the public, including washrooms, check-out counters, concession stands, and other high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs, elevator buttons, etc.
  • Cleaners break down grease and other organic material from surfaces. Most regular household cleaning products are effective at reducing the amount of germs on surfaces.
  • Disinfectants kill germs that remain on surfaces even after cleaning.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces at least twice a day and more frequently as needed. High-touch surfaces include items such as door handles, counters, cabinet doors, elevator buttons, light switches, faucets, toilet handles, hand rails, touch screen surfaces, and keypads.
  • Equipment and tools that must be shared should be cleaned and disinfected regularly, including between users (e.g. cashier’s stations, machinery). If staff are separated into assigned groups, clean and disinfect shared spaces between rotating groups.
  • Review Public Health Ontario’s Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings fact sheet.
  • Look for cleaning and disinfectant products with an 8-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN) to confirm it is approved for use in Canada.
  • Cleaning/disinfection wipes should only be used for surfaces, and according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Ensure adequate ventilation when using products (e.g. open windows, doors, or use fans).
  • Thoroughly wash hands with soap and water immediately after cleaning the setting.
  • Educate staff on how to maintain a clean workplace during COVID-19, including:
    • Proper use of cleaning agents and disinfectants, including required disinfectant contact times (amount of time that the product needs to remain wet on a surface to work effectively).
    • Safety precautions and requirements for use of mask and gloves.

Masks/Face Coverings for Staff, Clients and Customers

The use of non-medical masks or face coverings is required in all indoor public spaces, under a new City of Toronto bylaw and O. Reg. 82/20.

  • The City bylaw requires that businesses with indoor spaces that are open to the public must develop a policy on the wearing of masks. Use the Mask By-law Checklist and Sample Policy.
  • Operators must ensure that any person in the indoor area of the business or organization, or in a vehicle that is operating as part of the business or organization, wears a mask or face covering in a manner that covers their nose, mouth and chin while they are in the indoor area.
  • The person responsible for a business or organization shall ensure that every person who performs work for the business or organization and whose mask or face covering is temporarily removed to consume food or drink is separated from every other person by
    • a distance of at least two metres; or
    • plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.
  • Not all clients or customers are able to tolerate a mask and may be exempted. For example, masks should not be used by children under age two, and anyone who has trouble breathing.
  • Other exemptions include temporary removal of a mask to receive certain services (e.g. during a dental exam); for emergency or medical purposes; or if working in an area not accessible to the public and able to maintain physical distance of two metres/six feet from others (e.g. sitting alone in a private office).
  • Consider alternative ways to provide services to those who are unable to wear a mask (e.g. provide services at the end of the day when other customers are not present, use barriers such as plexiglass, and maintain physical distance when possible).
  • If possible, provide disposable masks for clients or customers who have not brought their own.
  • Train staff on these new requirements, including who is exempt and the proper use of a cloth mask or face covering.

Personal Protective Equipment

  • Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) including surgical/procedure mask and eye protection (goggles or face shield) must be worn if physical distancing of two metres/six feet or separation via a physical barrier cannot be maintained at all times.
  • Additional PPE may be required for other roles within the workplace (e.g. first aid attendant). The employer must determine when and what PPE is required, and ensure that it is worn by workers.
  • Train employees on how to put on and take off PPE safely.

Maintain Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems

  • Conduct or have the property owner or landlord conduct a regular review of HVAC systems to ensure it operating properly.
  • Consider consulting an HVAC specialist to determine if the HVAC system is suitable for the type of setting, type of activity, number of occupants, and the length of time the space is occupied.
  • 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.
  • 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 customers.
  • 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.
  • Portable air purifiers/cleaners equipped with a HEPA filter could potentially reduce exposure to 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. Portable air cleaners are not a substitute for proper ventilation and other preventive measures.
  • For more information, review the COVID-19: Transmission, Aerosols and Ventilation fact sheet.

Communication

  • Inform staff and customers about the measures being taken to protect them against COVID-19.
  • 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.
  • Display information throughout your setting to promote messages about how to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, including COVID-19: Spread the Word and COVID-19 Fact Sheet.

Vaccination

Onsite Workplace Vaccination Clinics

  • Employers may be able to open vaccination clinics at their workplace if they meet certain criteria.
  • Employers are responsible for setting up, operating and funding the clinic for their workers. They are also required to allow residents of the surrounding community to attend their vaccination clinic.
  • More information can be found on the province’s website COVID-19: Help for businesses in Ontario
  • Interested employers can email covid19vaccinetaskforce@ontario.ca to learn more and express interest in hosting an onsite vaccination clinic.

Other Resources


Download this information as a PDF.

As health authorities around the world take action to contain the spread of COVID-19, employers must also play a role in stopping the spread of this disease. This guidance document provides simple strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace to keep everyone safe. The strategies can and should be adapted to meet the unique needs of every workplace. Additional guidance for various sectors are found in the Other Resources section at the end of this document.

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 (TPH) 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.

Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health issued a Class Order enabling TPH to require the full or partial closure of workplaces, or dismissal of teams or shifts, to manage COVID-19 outbreaks, effective April 23, 2021. This order applies to all persons who own or operate or occupy a workplace in the City of Toronto, with limited exceptions, and to all workers at any workplace to which the Order applies. See details below.

General COVID-19 Guidance for All Workplaces

Roles and Responsibilities of the Employer and Employee during COVID-19

Employer Responsibilities

Employee Responsibilities

  • Keep workers and workplaces safe and free of hazards.
  • Read the guide to the Occupational Health and Safety Act to understand all of your health and safety rights and responsibilities.
  • Understand COVID-19 risks.
  • Control COVID-19 risks in the workplace.
  • Develop a COVID-19 workplace safety plan.
  • Comply with any advice, recommendations and instructions by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and City of Toronto bylaws relevant to your organization.
  • Refuse unsafe work and promptly report the circumstances to your employer or supervisor.
  • Understand and follow your employers’ workplace health and safety directions (e.g. use or wear the personal protective equipment that your employer requires).
  • Follow direction from public health officials. Report any circumstance in the workplace that is likely to be hazardous to the health or safety of others in the workplace. This includes reporting one’s own potential exposure to COVID-19 that caused or is likely to cause illness to another person.

Immediate Notification to Toronto Public Health

  • Immediately notify Toronto Public Health (TPH) using the COVID-19 Workplace Reporting Tool as soon as you become aware of two or more individuals who test positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day interval in connection with your workplace premises.
  • If two or more people test positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day interval in connection with your workplace premises, employers must:
    • Provide contact information for a designated contact person at the workplace premise and ensure that person is readily available to communicate with TPH and implement any additional measures immediately as required by TPH.
    • Ensure that accurate and updated contact information for all workers is made available to TPH within 24 hours of request in support of case management and contact tracing requirements for COVID-19.
    • Cooperate with infection prevention and control personnel from TPH, including allowing entry into the workplace premise for inspection, and to support enhanced infection prevention and control measures and recommendations.
  • In addition to the above reporting requirements, the owner or operator or occupier shall notify Toronto Public Health via the online COVID-19 Workplace Reporting Tool as soon as they become aware of five or more individuals who test positive for COVID-19 within a 14 calendar-day period in connection with their workplace.
  • See Medical Officer of Health Instructions for Workplaces and Reporting Workplace Outbreaks to Toronto Public Health for more information.

Businesses must ensure the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development and/or other relevant government authorities (e.g. Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)) have been notified in accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and other applicable law.

Support the Employee with COVID-19

  • Know and communicate the rights and responsibilities of the employer and staff during COVID-19.
  • Ensure you have policies that support employees who need to be absent from work due to illness or being a close contact of a person with symptoms of COVID-19 or confirmed infection.
    • Ensure that all employees are aware of the income replacement and workplace-related benefits they are entitled to if they have to isolate due to symptoms of COVID-19, being tested for COVID-19, or being a close contact of someone with COVID-19. They may also be eligible for Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB).
  • Employees are responsible to report COVID-19 illness to their employer if it is likely to cause illness to another person in the workplace.
  • If an employee discloses to you that they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or have been exposed to a person with COVID-19, confirm that they are self-isolating.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that may have been touched by an employee with COVID-19 as soon as possible.
  • Employees should not return to work until after the required self-isolation period:
    • Individuals with COVID-19 must self-isolate for 10 days from the day their symptoms started. They should no longer have a fever, and their symptoms should be improving for at least 24 hours. If they did not have any symptoms of COVID-19 at or around the time of testing, they must self-isolate for 10 days after the test was performed.
    • Individuals with severe illness may require longer self-isolation periods, as directed by TPH.
    • Individuals who have been identified as close contacts must self-isolate for 14 days after their last exposure to the person with COVID-19, even if they test negative for COVID-19.
  • Use the staff screening questionnaire (p. 2) to determine when it is safe to return to work.
  • Toronto Public Health does not recommend that employers require clearance testing or doctor’s notes for return to work.

Contact Tracing in the Workplace

  • Toronto Public Health interviews each person with COVID-19 as soon as possible to ensure they are self-isolating, and helps them to identify people who may have been exposed while they were contagious, including in the workplace.
    • A person with COVID-19 is contagious from 48 hours before symptoms start until the end of their self-isolation period, usually 10 days after symptoms began.
    • If someone tested positive for COVID-19 but did not have symptoms, they are generally considered to be contagious from 48 hours before the test to 10 days after the test.
    • Example: If an employee develops a fever and cough on September 4 and tests positive for COVID-19, they would be considered contagious between September 2 and September 14. Anyone the employee interacted with during this time would be considered exposed.

Identify close contacts

  • Toronto Public Health will help individuals with COVID-19 to identify who is a close contact. They will provide a letter for them to give to the close contact instructing them to self-isolate for 14 days from the last time they interacted with the person who tested positive, and recommend that they also get tested.
  • With the emergence of variants of concern, contact management practices have been enhanced to reflect that the virus can be more easily spread. This means that there is a lower threshold for classifying contacts as high risk of exposure and requiring self-isolation, based on a risk assessment that considers the duration of contact, use of masks and eye protection, ventilation, etc.
  • Close contacts (or higher risk contacts) include staff, visitors or patrons who were within two metres/six feet of the person with COVID-19, with or without a mask, for a cumulative duration of 15 minutes or more, or who had direct contact with that individual while they coughed or sneezed.
    • Examples: Having lunch or a drink with co-worker at the same table sitting less than two metres/six feet apart; staff that are unable to keep distance due to the job such as working on an assembly line; or sharing a drink from the same glass or bottle.
    • Close contacts should self-isolate for 14 days from the last day that they were exposed to the person with COVID-19 while they were contagious.
  • Lower risk contacts include staff, visitors or patrons with consistent and appropriate use of recommended personal protective equipment (PPE), including surgical/procedure mask and eye protection. Situations where there may be potential increased risk, such as longer duration of indoor exposure (e.g., full shift), distance less than two meters/six feet apart, poor ventilation, or improper use of PPE, lack of an adequate physical barrier (e.g., plexiglass) may be deemed higher risk.
    • Examples: Co-workers on a production line who at times have to stand within two metres/six feet apart, both consistently wearing medical masks and eye protection; co-workers in a packing area wearing masks and consistently separated by tall and wide plexiglass barriers in an area with good ventilation; or quickly walking by the case in a hallway.
    • Lower risk contacts should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the last day that they were exposed to the person with COVID-19 while they were contagious.

Maintain attendance records

  • To support contact tracing, maintain attendance records of all staff and clients (i.e. name, date, time, email address or phone number).
  • Some businesses which have patrons entering for limited exceptions are also required to maintain contact information for all patrons/visitors who enter their facility, including:
    • Community centres and multi-purpose facilities
    • Concert venues, theatres and cinemas (for performers)
    • Indoor and outdoor sports and recreational fitness facilities
    • Meeting and event spaces
    • Public libraries

Support contact tracing and notify close contacts

  • Employers may be notified by an employee or patron who may have been contagious while at the workplace.
    • The employer should work with an employee with COVID-19 to identify if others may have been exposed at the workplace while the person was contagious.
    • The employer can notify employees who were considered to have been close contacts to self-isolate, and lower risk contacts to self-monitor, for 14 days from their last exposure to the case, while maintaining confidentiality of all affected employees.
    • This approach can also be used if an employer is informed that a patron/client attended the establishment while contagious, and had close contact with their employees.
    • If a person with COVID-19 discloses illness to the employer, but others at the workplace have not been exposed (e.g. staff was not present while contagious), then further contact tracing would not be needed at the workplace.
  • Employers may be notified by TPH that a person with COVID-19 may have been present at the workplace while contagious.
    • Consent is obtained from the employee before TPH discloses personal health information to the employer.
    • Upon request, be prepared to provide a list of the names and contact information of staff and, if applicable, clients or patrons, who may have been exposed. Toronto Public Health can use this information to notify and provide instructions for close contacts to self-isolate or self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.

Maintain privacy and confidentiality

  • Personal information 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.
  • Ensure you maintain privacy and confidentiality of employees’ and patrons’ personal health information at all times. If necessary, use non-descript language if notifying others that a person who was in the workplace, floor, or area was infected or exposed to the COVID-19 virus.
  • Public notification is generally not required unless persons who may have been exposed while at the workplace cannot be identified or contacted in a timely manner.

COVID-19 Outbreaks in the Workplace

All workplaces that are experiencing an active COVID-19 outbreak must comply with the requirements issued in a Class Order until cleared by Toronto Public Health (TPH). Requirements include enhanced measures related to:

  • Following TPH instructions related to closing all or any part of the workplace
  • Following TPH instructions related to COVID-19 testing
  • A workplace outbreak can be defined as two or more confirmed COVID-19 cases in the workplace that are linked (e.g. same work area, same shift) within a 14-day period where both cases could have reasonably become infected while at the workplace.
    • Examples of having “reasonably” become infected while at the workplace include a known exposure to a staff, visitor or patron who was COVID-19 positive while in the workplace, or no obvious source of infection outside of the workplace.
  • Toronto Public Health will conduct an investigation of workplace outbreaks in some circumstances.
  • A public health investigation can include any of the following:
    • Interview with the employer to assess existing prevention measures and possible sources of transmission in the workplace.
      • This may be done by telephone and/or by electronic survey.
    • Request for information to help identify additional cases and tracing contacts.
      • This may include staff contact information, staff schedules, and patron logs.
      • You may be provided with an electronic link or survey to share information securely with the investigator.
    • Guidance on additional required prevention measures, including workplace restrictions and closures.
    • Recommendations on targeted testing of staff.
    • Support in communicating to staff, business partners, and the public.
    • On-site inspection of the workplace.
  • Information must be provided to TPH in a timely manner to help stop further spread of COVID-19.
  • When there have been five or more confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases for individuals who have attended a workplace within a 14 calendar-day period, Toronto Public Health may, based on its assessment, by notice require:
    • full workplace closure to immediately occur and continue for a minimum period of 10 calendar days; or
    • partial workplace closure or shift or work area mass dismissal to immediately occur and continue for a minimum period of 10 calendar days; or
    • other significant interventions necessary to address circumstances at a specific workplace.
  • The Class Order may also apply to workplaces with less than five COVID-19 cases, if it is determined that significant action is required to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
  • Owners, operators and occupiers of a workplace that has been fully closed by notice under this Order shall post signage in a form provided by Toronto Public Health, in a conspicuous location at all entrances to the workplace, for the duration of the closure, indicating the workplace is closed.
  • If a workplace closure, or shift or work area mass dismissal is required as per the Order, all workers who are identified by Toronto Public Health or who are identified by an owner or operator or occupier of a workplace who is following Toronto Public Health instructions, must self-isolate.
  • Some workplaces may be exempt from the full closure requirements.
  • Full details of this Class Order can be found here: Class Order to Close Workplaces to Manage COVID-19 Outbreaks. Also see Questions & Answers – Section 22 Class Order to Close Workplaces with COVID-19 Outbreaks for more information.

Other Resources


Download this information as a PDF.

Under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 a business or organization may be required to prepare and make available 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 the spread of COVID-19.
  • 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.

Assign a lead person who is responsible for developing, implementing and updating, as needed, your workplace safety plan. Review the COVID-19 Safety Plan Instructions for more information on how to complete this checklist.[1]

Company Details

Business name: __________________________________________________________________________________________

Developed by: ___________________________________________________________________________________________

Date completed: _________________________________________________________________________________________

1. Screening

The person responsible for a business or organization that is open shall operate the business or organization in compliance with the advice, recommendations and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health on screening employees and patrons for COVID-19.

Actions to consider: (Select all that apply)

  • Use the COVID-19 Staff Screening Questionnaire to screen[2] all individuals who perform work, including employees, workers, volunteers, contractors, suppliers, etc., before they enter the workplace.
  • Ensure all employees know to stay home if they have COVID-19 symptoms that are new, getting worse or unexplained.
  • Ensure all employees know who their workplace contact (e.g., supervisor/manager) is and how to get in touch with them in case they need to stay home/go home.
  • Determine if active screening is required for others, including visitors and patrons, by reading guidance specific to your sector (e.g. retail, food store etc.).
    • Active screening is required for:
      • Patrons
      • Visitors
      • Other: _____________________________________________________________
    • Determine which method(s) will be used to conduct active screening:
      • In-person at the workplace:
        • Individual completes questionnaire using pen and paper
        • Assigned screener asks questions directly to individual and records answers
      • Remotely using:
        • Telephone
        • Email
        • Internet (online tool)
        • Mobile application
  • If in-person active screening will be conducted, a screening station is set up at entrance as follows:
    • Signs are posted in visible locations clearly explaining the screening process and conditions for entry.
    • The area allows for a minimum of two metres/six feet distance between the employee conducting screening and the individual being screened. Alternatively, a protective barrier (e.g. plexiglass) may be equipped around the screening station.
    • Visual markers/cues (e.g. tape on the floor, pylons, signs) are placed as a guide for physical distancing for the person being screened and others waiting to be screened.
    • Supplies needed for screening are available (e.g. hand sanitizer, personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning and disinfecting wipes).
  • Where active screening is not required post signage with the screening questions, and instructions asking people to self-screen prior to entering the business or organization.
  • Post signs clearly stating that people with symptoms are not to enter.
  • Train screening staff on how to advise individuals who do not pass the screening process. A screener should advise anyone who does not pass the screening:
    • that they may not enter the workplace, including any outdoor, or partially outdoor, workplaces;
    • that they must go home to self-isolate immediately;
    • that they should contact their health care provider or Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000) to find out if they need a COVID-19 test and for further instructions.

Additional Actions: (List your actions here. Note who is responsible for each action.)

2. Physical Distancing

The person responsible for a business or organization that is open shall operate the business or organization in compliance with the advice, recommendations and instructions of public health officials, including any advice, recommendations or instructions on physical distancing, cleaning or disinfecting.

Capacity limits for businesses or facilities open to the public

The person responsible for a place of business or facility that is open to the public shall limit the number of persons in the place of business or facility so that:

  • the members of the public are able to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres/six feet from every other person in the business or facility; and
  • the total number of members of the public in the business or facility at any one time does not exceed the prescribed capacity in the regulation. People who live in the same household are not required to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres/six feet from each other while in a place of business or facility.

Physical distancing and masks or face coverings in lines, etc.

The person responsible for a business or place that is open must not permit patrons to line up inside the business or place, or to line up or congregate outside of the business or place, unless they are:

  • maintaining a physical distance of at least two metres/six feet from other groups of persons; and
  • wearing a mask or face covering in a manner that covers their nose, mouth, and chin, unless they are entitled to an exception.

Actions to consider: (Select all that apply)

  • Limit the number of employees present at the business or organization at any given time, and ensure two metres/six feet physical distancing from other employees/patrons is maintained, as much as possible.
  • Modify services to reduce the number of employees and patrons present at any one time:
    • Provide services online or by phone whenever possible.
    • Offer mail, product or curb-side delivery, and follow contact-less delivery practices.
    • Other: _____________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
  • Modify the space to encourage physical distancing (e.g. move furniture/displays, block off every other customer service window/check-out counter).
  • Manage lines to ensure that people are maintaining two metres/six feet physical distancing, and are wearing a mask.
  • Use visual markers (e.g. tape on the floor, pylons, signs) to remind people where to stand to keep two metre/six feet distance from others.
  • In spaces where physical distancing is not possible and close contact between employees and patrons is unavoidable, install protective barriers (e.g. plexiglass), where possible.
  • Post physical distancing signs at all entrances, elevators, employee areas, and public areas (e.g. cashiers, service counters).

Additional Actions: (List your actions here. Note who is responsible for each action.)

3. Masks and Face Coverings

The person responsible for a business or organization that is open shall ensure that any person in the indoor area of the premises of the business or organization, or in a vehicle that is operating as part of the business or organization, wears a mask or face covering in a manner that covers their nose, mouth, and chin during any period when they are in the indoor area, unless they are entitled to an exception.

Actions to consider: (Select all that apply)

  • Create a mask policy as per the City of Toronto bylaw. Refer to the guidance on mask and face covering bylaw for a sample policy.
  • Post signs required by the bylaw at all entrances where they are clearly visible to the public. A sample poster is available to download, print and post.
  • Ensure that any person in the indoor area of the business or organization, or in a vehicle that is operating as part of the business or organization, wears a mask or face covering in a manner that covers their nose, mouth and chin.
  • Use alternative ways to provide services to those who are unable to wear a mask (e.g. provide services at the beginning/end of the day when fewer patrons are present, use protective barriers such as plexiglass, and maintain physical distance when possible).
  • Provide disposable masks for people who have not brought their own.
  • Train employees on mask requirements, including who is entitled to an exception and the proper use of a cloth mask or face covering.

Additional Actions: (List your actions here. Note who is responsible for each action.)

4. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

A person shall wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) that provides protection of the person’s eyes, nose and mouth if, in the course of providing services, the person:

  • is required to come within two metres of another person who is not wearing a mask or face covering in a manner that covers that person’s nose and chin during any period when that person is in an indoor area; and
  • is not separated by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier from a person described in the previous bullet.

Actions to consider: (Select all that apply)

  • Assess your business or organization to determine where PPE for employees may be necessary. For example, employees should wear masks that cover the nose, mouth and chin and use eye protection when physical distancing is difficult.

PPE is needed for the following:
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • Ensure PPE is available for employees for each shift, and as necessary.
  • Train employees on how to don and doff PPE safely.

Additional Actions: (List your actions here. Note who is responsible for each action.)

5. Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette

Actions to consider: (Select all that apply)

  • Post Clean your Hands, Cover your Cough, Protect Yourself signs in high-traffic areas.
  • Provide hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol concentration) by entrances and throughout the business or organization for employees and patrons to use.
  • Ensure an adequate supply of liquid soap, paper towel, hand sanitizer, tissues, and waste receptacles throughout the business or organization, and in washrooms.
  • Educate employees on proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.

Additional Actions: (List your actions here. Note who is responsible for each action.)

6. Cleaning and Disinfecting

The person responsible for a business or organization that is open shall operate the business or organization in compliance with the advice, recommendations and instructions of public health officials, including any advice, recommendations or instructions on physical distancing, cleaning or disinfecting.

The person responsible for a business or place that is open shall ensure that:

  • 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; and
  • any equipment that is rented to, provided to or provided for the use of members of the public must be cleaned and disinfected as frequently as is necessary to maintain a sanitary condition.

This applies to computers, electronics and other machines or devices that members of the public are permitted to operate.

Actions to consider: (Select all that apply)

  • Prepare a plan/schedule for enhanced environmental cleaning and disinfection practices that includes:
    • Who will conduct the cleaning and disinfection
    • What areas require enhanced cleaning (e.g. high-touch surfaces)
    • What products will be used to clean and disinfect
    • How often cleaning and disinfecting is required
  • Assign tools, equipment and workstations to a single user if possible, or limit the number of users.
  • Ensure equipment and tools that must be shared are cleaned and disinfected regularly, including between users (e.g. cashier’s stations, machinery).
  • Educate employees on how to maintain a clean workplace during COVID-19, including:
    • Proper use of cleaning agents and disinfectants, including required disinfectant contact times (amount of time that the product needs to remain wet on a surface to work effectively).
    • Safety precautions and requirements for the use of masks and gloves.
    • Ensuring adequate ventilation when using products (e.g. open windows, doors, or use fans).
    • Thoroughly wash hands with soap and water immediately after cleaning the setting.
  • Regularly check heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system(s) to ensure they are functioning and in good working order.
    HVAC systems will be checked every ________________________________________ [insert time/schedule]
  • Improve ventilation by increasing the introduction and circulation of outdoor air by maximizing the outdoor air ratio of the HVAC system settings, using the highest efficiency filters possible, or by opening windows and doors. Avoid recirculating air.

Additional Actions: (List your actions here. Note who is responsible for each action.)


COVID-19 Safety Plan – Snapshot

Post this snapshot in a place where it can be seen easily by your employees, patrons and other people entering the business or organization. This will help them know what actions are being taken in your business or organization to protect them from COVID-19.

Business name:  _________________________________________________________________________________________

Date completed: ________________________________________________________________________________________ 

Division/group: _________________________________________________________________________________________

Revision date: ___________________________________________________________________________________________

Measures we are taking:

  • Screening
    • [List your measures here.]
  • Physical Distancing
    • [List your measures here.]
  • Use of Masks and Face Coverings
    • [List your measures here.]
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
    • [List your measures here.]
  • Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette
    • [List your measures here.]
  • Cleaning and Disinfecting
    • [List your measures here.]

[1] The checklist has been adapted from information provided by the Province of Ontario. It should not be used as or considered legal advice. Businesses and organizations seeking legal advice should consult with a qualified legal professional.

[2] Active screening: A live or virtual screener is used to collect and review an individual’s screening responses, and determines whether a person may enter the business/organization.

Passive screening: People screen themselves using a screening poster or sign as a guide, and make the decision themselves if they should enter the business/organization.

Download this information as a PDF (also available in French) or as a fillable PDF.

This document provides background information and instructions on how to complete the COVID-19 Safety Plan Checklist .[1]

Under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, businesses or organizations may be required to prepare and make available 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 the spread of COVID-19.
  • 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.

Owners, operators and employers of businesses, workplaces and organizations in the City of Toronto can use the checklist to document how their business or organization will keep staff and other people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Once completed, the checklist can serve as the required COVID-19 safety plan.

As an employer, it is your responsibility under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect a worker. As every organization is different, it is the responsibility of the owner/operator, management and staff to review their own policies, procedures, and site-specific operations, while ensuring that the appropriate infection prevention and control measures are implemented and maintained.

The guide does not replace the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations and should not be used as or considered legal advice.  Businesses and organizations seeking legal advice should consult with a qualified legal professional.

How to Complete the Safety Plan Checklist

  1. Assign a lead person who is responsible for developing, implementing and updating, as needed, your workplace safety plan.
  2. Use the checklist to create your safety plan.
    1. Use the check boxes to select (✔) measures that your business or organization has or will implement to protect employees and the public from COVID-19.
    2. If necessary, provide additional information to more clearly explain your measures. This will help your employees and other people to know exactly what to do and what to expect.
  3. If necessary, add other actions specific to your setting that your business or organization will implement to keep employees and the public safe.
  4. Use key sources of information to inform the plan.
    1. Talk to employees and your Joint Health & Safety Committee (JHSC) members or health and safety representatives, if any, for their input on the plan.
    2. Use online resources and information to assist, such as:
  1. If possible, create, discuss and share your plan before employees return to the workplace.
  2. Use the final section to create a ‘snapshot’ version of your plan. Post the snapshot in your business or organization so that staff, visitors and patrons know what you are doing to help keep everyone safe.

What to do when your safety plan is complete

  1. Discuss and share your safety plan with everyone at work, including:
  • employees
  • unions
  • supervisors
  • health and safety representatives or members of joint health and safety committees (JHSCs)
  • contractors
  • suppliers

This will help to ensure that everyone understands how you plan to manage the risks of contracting COVID-19 in your workplace.

  1. Make your plan available. You are not required to send your plan to the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development or the City of Toronto for review or comment in advance of operations and/or routinely. However, you must provide the plan to a Ministry of Labour or City of Toronto staff upon request during an investigation or inspection of your workplace.
  2. Post your safety plan in a visible place so that it is easy to view for those working or attending the location.
  3. Review and update your plan The COVID-19 pandemic, including related regulations and recommendations, are changing frequently. Review your safety plan regularly and make changes as required. Refer to the Province of Ontario and City of Toronto websites for up-to-date information about COVID-19.

[1] The checklist has been adapted from information provided by the Province of Ontario.


Download this information as a PDF.

Once Toronto Public Health begins an investigation with your setting, you will be asked to complete the “Information about COVID-19 cases/contacts at your setting” form within 24 hours of the investigation beginning. Workplace and community setting representatives should complete this document providing the requested information for all COVID-19 cases and contacts at your setting. Please complete this document to the best of your ability. If you have any questions about this document and how to complete it, please contact your assigned Communicable Disease Investigator (CDI). Please submit the completed document to your assigned CDI.

Under the Reopening Ontario Act, 2020 the use of masks or face coverings is mandatory in all indoor public settings across Ontario. Wearing a mask or face covering is also mandatory in a vehicle that is operated as part of a business or organization. Read the Province of Ontario regulations for full details.

In addition to provincial regulations on mandatory masks or face coverings, City of Toronto By-law 541-2020, as amended by By-law 664-20 and By-law 263-2021, requires the following:

  1. operators of an establishment must have a policy in place that requires masks or face coverings be worn in indoor public spaces;
  2. owners of apartment buildings and condominium corporations must have a policy in place that requires masks or face coverings be worn in common areas in apartment buildings and condominiums; and
  3. any person in an enclosed common area of an apartment or condominium building must wear a mask or face covering, unless subject to an exemption.

Learn more about masks and face coverings.

The following checklist will help business operators comply with the City of Toronto by-laws. Operators can use and adapt the sample policy as appropriate for their organization.

The aim and purpose of this document is to assist individuals and businesses with information related to Ontario Government and 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.

Checklist of Requirements for Establishment Owners/Operators

  • Create a mask policy for your establishment (see sample policy below).
  • Communicate this new policy to employees, visitors, patrons and tenants.
  • Post signs at all entrances to the premises in high visibility areas containing the following text:
    • ALL PERSONS ENTERING OR REMAINING IN THESE PREMISES SHALL WEAR A MASK OR FACE COVERING WHICH COVERS THE NOSE, MOUTH AND CHIN AS REQUIRED UNDER CITY OF TORONTO BY-LAW 541-2020.
    • The mandatory mask or face covering poster can be downloaded for this purpose. Also find the poster in multiple languages.
  • Train your employees on the City by-law and your policy, including who is exempt.
  • Train your employees on how to communicate with, and accommodate people who are unable to wear a mask. Communicate in a respectful and non-stigmatizing way.
  • Consider offering alternative services to people who are unable to wear a mask. For example, provide online, telephone, curbside pickup or off-peak hour services.
    • Communicate these options to employees, visitors, patrons and tenants (e.g. post a sign in the window).
  • Ensure that all employees, visitors, patrons and tenants wear a mask that covers their nose, mouth and chin indoors, unless they are exempt (e.g. children under the age of two and people with certain health conditions).
  • Do not request proof of an exemption. People who are unable to wear a mask due to age, health or other reasons do not require proof for the exemption.
  • Provide a verbal reminder to employees, visitors, patrons and tenants to wear a mask.

Other Resources

Have questions? Call Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600 (8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.).


Sample Policy

Mandatory Use of Mask or Face Covering within [Name of Establishment]

All employees, visitors, patrons and tenants are required to wear a mask or face covering upon entering and remaining within any enclosed public space or common area of [name of Establishment]. The mask or face covering must cover the nose, mouth and chin.

Employees must wear appropriate personal protective equipment (i.e. surgical/procedure mask and eye protection (goggles or face shield) that provides protection of their eyes, nose and mouth) if, while in an indoor area, they:

  • are required to come within two metres of another person who is not wearing a mask or face covering in a manner that covers that person’s nose, mouth and chin; and
  • are not separated from that person by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.

Temporary removal of the mask is permitted where necessary for the purposes of:

  • receiving services;
  • eating or drinking while sitting down in a designated area, where permitted,
  • engaging in an athletic or fitness activity; or
  • performing or rehearsing in a film or television production or in a concert, artistic event, theatrical performance or other performance.

The following people are exempted from requiring a mask or face covering and will not be required to provide proof of such exemption:

  • Children under two years of age.
  • Individuals with an underlying medical condition that inhibits their ability to wear a mask or face covering.
  • Individuals who are unable to place, remove, or use a mask or face covering without assistance.
  • Employees and operators of the establishment, in a designed area not for public access or within or behind a physical barrier who are able to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person in the indoor area.
  • Individuals who are reasonably accommodated by not wearing a mask or face covering in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005.
  • Individuals who are reasonably accommodated under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Operators must ensure that employees are aware of and understand all components of this policy. Operators must ensure that employees are trained on implementing this policy, including how to respond to various circumstances, should they arise, such as:

  • patron arrives without a mask because they forgot or don’t have one;
  • patron arrives who is exempt from wearing a mask;
  • patron wants more information about the policy and by-law;
  • patron becomes aggressive about the policy and mask requirements;
  • patron wants information about the importance of wearing a mask or the science on the use of masks; and
  • patron wants to know if they can be fined for not wearing a mask.

Operators must ensure that a sign about the by-law is posted at all entrances of the premise in a manner that is visible to the public. A mandatory mask or face covering poster is available in English and other languages to download, print and post.

Employees must ensure that they review and understand this policy. Employees must follow and implement this policy, as described.


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What are variants of concern?

In 2019, a new coronavirus emerged that causes the illness we know as COVID-19. Viruses are constantly changing. Change occurs when the virus is replicating (making copies of itself), and its genes make “copying errors.” Many of these changes or mutations have little effect. However, when a mutated virus is shown to increase how quickly the virus spreads, or cause severe illness, they are called “variants of concern.” The variants of concern (VOC) listed below are more contagious than the original virus.

What does this mean?

When the virus is more contagious, it can spread easily from person-to-person, increasing the number of COVID-19 cases, and putting a strain on our healthcare resources. Some VOCs may also re-infect people who have recovered from COVID-19, or cause severe illness. Studies to determine if currently approved vaccines are effective in preventing disease from the new variants are ongoing. The vaccines currently approved for use in Canada can still provide protection against variants

Three VOCs are known to be circulating in Ontario:

B.1.1.7

First Detected: September 2020, in United Kingdom

Concerns: It is 50% more contagious and has spread around the world. Potential for more serious illness.

B.1.351

First Detected: October 2020, in South Africa

Concerns: It is 50% more contagious, with increased risk of reinfection if previously infected with another strain.

P.1

First Detected: December 2020, in Brazil/Japan

Concerns:

Appears to spread more easily, and there is a risk of re-infection.

Prevention measures

With the increased risk due to VOCs, intensive efforts are more important than ever to prevent further spread of illness in the workplace.

Physical distancing is the most effective way to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. However, in some workplace settings, this may not always be possible. It is important to also have other prevention measures such as:

  • Wearing a mask properly (i.e. covering the nose, mouth and chin).
  • Wearing eye protection (e.g. goggles, face shield), especially when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Actively screening staff and clients for symptoms and possible exposures to persons with COVID-19 before entry into the store/business.
  • Supporting staff to stay home if they are sick or are a close contact of someone who has symptoms of or has been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Frequent cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces.
  • Improving ventilation, if possible, and ensuring Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems are maintained properly.
  • Providing handwashing supplies to promote good hand hygiene.
  • Maintaining and updating workplace safety plans, as needed.
  • Encouraging vaccination against COVID-19 when it becomes available.

Managing COVID-19 in the workplace

Employers must immediately notify Toronto Public Health (TPH) as soon as they become aware of two or more people who test positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day interval in connection with their workplace premises. Toronto Public Health interviews each person with COVID-19 as soon as possible to ensure they are self-isolating, and will help to identify people who may have been exposed while they were contagious (close contacts). Since VOCs are more easily spread between people, TPH’s assessment of workplace close contacts will consider factors such as duration of exposure, use of personal protective equipment, physical distancing, and ventilation.

Testing for VOCs

Current COVID-19 testing in Ontario can detect VOCs although the results take longer. It is not necessary for individuals with COVID-19 or employers to request VOC screening. Information about testing and self-isolation requirements is available here.

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