Last updated: November 22, 2022
Employers may notify Toronto Public Health when they become aware of two or more cases within the workplace who test positive or have symptoms of COVID-19 within a 10-day period. Preview the reporting tool
To help protect workers and the public, Toronto Public Health recommends that employers implement a COVID-19 vaccination policy. See information on establishing a vaccination policy for your workplace and hosting an on-site vaccination clinic.
Download printable posters and information cards for your setting and learn about supports available for businesses.
COVID-19 & Respiratory Virus Guidance for Businesses & Organizations
Businesses & organizations have a role to play to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses. It’s important to be prepared if there is a rise in cases during the fall and winter months, and the possible return of certain public health measures. Layers of protection, such as vaccination and masking, help to keep the community safe and businesses open. Learn more about layers of protection.
The following general guidance is meant to assist businesses and organizations in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses among staff and patrons. It is not intended to provide comprehensive guidance regarding the operations of any specific business, organization, or sector. Every business and organization will be different and it is the responsibility of owners and operators to review their own policies, procedures, and site-specific operations, while ensuring that the appropriate infection prevention and control measures are implemented and maintained.
Owners and operators of businesses and organizations are responsible for being aware of, and operating in compliance with, all applicable legal requirements. This guidance is not intended to provide legal advice, nor does it replace legal advice.
Encourage COVID-19 Vaccination
- Implement a workplace vaccination policy.
- Encourage all eligible staff, workers, contractors, volunteers and patrons to get vaccinated for COVID-19, including any booster dose(s) (e.g. post vaccine information in your organization).
- Vaccinations are safe and continue to protect against serious illness from COVID-19 and variants.
Maintain Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems
- Well-maintained HVAC systems help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and respiratory illnesses by reducing virus particles in the air.
- For more information, visit our ventilation section.
- Well-fitted, high-quality masks protect ourselves and others from COVID-19 and respiratory infections, especially in indoors public settings, including in schools and childcare settings.
- Masking continues to be an important part of our community’s response to the pandemic to protect ourselves and one another.
- Businesses and organizations are strongly encouraged to recommend masking, based on the setting and situation (e.g. by implementing their own masking policies or posting signs).
- Some people may choose to continue to wear a mask in certain settings or under certain circumstances.
- Provide a respectful space for those who continue to wear masks.
- See COVID-19: Face Masks & Respirators to learn more.
Promote Hand Hygiene & Respiratory Etiquette
- Post Wash your Hands and Cover your Cough, signs in high traffic areas.
- Provide liquid soap, paper towel, hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol concentration), tissues, and waste receptacles throughout the facility.
- Glove use is not a substitute for proper hand hygiene.
- If gloves are used, it is important to change as necessary (e.g. when changing tasks, when they become dirty).
- Hands should be washed and/or sanitized between changes.
- When gloves are removed, new gloves should be used each time.
Improve Cleaning & Disinfecting Practices
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces as is necessary to maintain a sanitary condition.
- Consider posting signs in visible locations for staff and patrons to screen themselves before entering the premises.
- Ask staff and patrons to stay home if they are sick and to follow self-isolation and other public health guidance.
Support Staff to Stay Home when Sick
- Consider a flexible sick policy so staff do not come to work when they are ill.
- Remind workers of their sick pay entitlements if they must stay home, such as up to three paid sick days under the Employment Standards Act.
- Encourage staff to access testing and treatments for COVID-19, if eligible.
Encourage Physical Distancing Where Possible
- Consider ways to reduce crowding and congestion, especially in indoor areas with poor ventilation.
- Consider plexiglass or other impermeable barriers, for high frequency, short duration interactions.
- Consider requiring appointments/reservations during peak times to minimize lines, prevent crowding and control flow.
Modify Service Delivery & Programming
- Consider alternative methods of service (e.g. virtual, telephone, delivery or pickup) for individuals at higher risk of getting seriously sick from COVID-19 or who are not able to be vaccinated.
Promote COVID-19 and Respiratory Virus Safety in Vehicles (e.g., vehicle-for-hire, carpooling)
- Consider encouraging use of masks by drivers and passengers in vehicles.
- Masks may be expected in certain settings such as public transit.
- Consider installing plastic screens or plexiglass shields as a physical barrier between the driver and passenger in the back seat. Ensure that these barriers do not create any new safety hazards such as visual obstructions for the driver.
- Consider asking passengers to sit in the back seat to maintain physical distance.
- Consider improving fresh air circulation using the vehicle climate control system and opening windows. Avoid the recirculated air option.
Support Staff on Safe COVID-19 and Respiratory Virus Practices
- Educate and train staff on:
Consider Rapid Antigen Testing
- Rapid antigen testing can be used for regular workplace screening of employees based on provincial eligibility.
- Rapid testing does not replace other public health measures such as vaccination and masking, even if a person tests negative.
- Rapid antigen tests can be used by employees if they have symptoms of COVID-19 to confirm an infection (one positive test) or confirm that they are not infected (2 tests 24 to 48 hours apart and symptoms are improving).
- Some businesses/organizations/facilities are eligible to receive free rapid antigen test kits. Visit the Toronto Region Board of Trade and Province of Ontario websites for more information.
COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Employers
Managing COVID-19 in the Workplace
The aim and purpose of this guidance is to assist employers with information related to the Ontario Government’s reopening framework. Employers 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.
Employers may report cases of COVID-19 in the workplace to Toronto Public Health using the COVID-19 Workplace Reporting Tool, if two or more cases within your workplace have tested positive or had symptoms of COVID-19 within a 10 day period.
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 10-day period, and those people have a connection to the same physical place of work, the employer may notify TPH.
- Large employers that have many workplaces may notify TPH when there are two or more cases in the same workplace setting (e.g. the same office).
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 10-day period
✓ Both Susanna and Preya work at the Leaside auto shop location
Joe may notify TPH.
|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 10- day period
✘ Ahmed and Ilana work at different grocery locations
Winnie does not need to notify TPH.
Employer and Employee Responsibilities
- People may enter a workplace for a variety of reasons. They may be an employee, contracted worker, customer, visitor, etc.
- The employer may 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 or have symptoms of COVID-19 within a 10-day period.
- Employees should report to their employer 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 infectious, Gary should tell his employer because other people at the workplace may be exposed.
- Promote COVID-19 screening and consider posting signs at all entrances of a business or organization for patrons and employees.
- Staff should stay home and self-isolate if they are sick. Follow the current provincial guidance for:
- Staff who are COVID-19 positive
- Staff who may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19
- When it is safe for an employee to return to work
- Support the employee with COVID-19:
- Ensure you have policies that support employees who need to be absent from work due to illness or confirmed COVID-19 infection
- Ensure that all employees are aware of the income replacement and workplace-related benefits to which they are entitled
- Toronto Public Health does not recommend that employers require clearance testing or doctor’s notes for return to work.
Infection prevention and control
- Toronto Public Health may 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.
Download this information as a PDF.
Information about COVID-19 Cases/Contacts at Your Setting Form
Infographics & Posters