COVID-19 Guidelines for Restaurants, Bars and other Food Service Premises
This guide provides you with the information you need to re-open your restaurant, bar or other food service premises. Part 1 provides advice on preparing your restaurant, bar or food premises for food service before reopening, and Part 2 helps you to provide food service after reopening.
As of Monday November 23, 2020, Toronto is in the Grey Control Level of the provincial Reopening Ontario Act. At this time, only take out, drive through or delivery is permitted.
If you have a specific question about anything in this document, please call Toronto Public Health (TPH) at 416-338-7600, email DineSafe@toronto.ca or visit www.toronto.ca/COVID19.
- The person responsible for a business or organization that is open shall ensure that the business or organization operates in accordance with all applicable laws, including the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the regulations made under it Reg. 654/20.
- 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 Reg. 654/20.
- 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 individuals Reg. 654/20.
There is no requirement for restaurants, bars or other food premises to be inspected by Toronto Public Health before reopening. However, if you are opening a new restaurant, bar or other food premises, you must contact Toronto Public Health before opening to arrange for an inspection. You also must comply at all times with Ontario Food Premises Regulation 493/17 made under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
COVID-19 is spread mainly from person-to-person through close contact from respiratory droplets of someone with COVID-19. The respiratory droplets can travel up to two metres/six feet when we cough, sneeze or talk.
It is possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes. The virus may survive on plastic and metal surfaces for several hours.
Main measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in restaurants, bars and other food premises
- Physical distancing by keeping a two metre/six foot distance from both staff and customers.
- Frequent cleaning and disinfection of all potentially contaminated surfaces.
Additional protective measures to keep everyone safe
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Wash hands often. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
- Wear a face mask or covering when in an enclosed, public setting.
Part 1: Before Reopening
Indoor/Outdoor Dining Prohibition
- Restaurants, bars, food trucks, concession stands and other food or drink establishments may open only for the purpose of providing take-out, drive-through or delivery service Reg. 654/20.
- Nightclubs and strip clubs that open solely as food or drink establishments only for the purpose of providing take-out, drive-through or delivery service Reg. 654/20.
- Indoor dining is allowed only at food establishments in the following settings: O Reg 263/20
- Within a business or place where the only patrons permitted at the establishment are persons who perform work for the business or place in which the establishment is located.
The following are recommended actions to be taken prior to opening your establishment for business:
- As required under City bylaw, establish a COVID-19 screening protocol to be applied to each employee before they start a shift that consists of at least the Toronto Public Health screening questionnaire. The screening protocol must be produced on request to any City enforcement officer.
- Staffing: stagger shifts, stagger breaks and lunch breaks, update absence policies, and new protocols for back filling absences.
- In addition to implementing a screening protocol, operators should ensure that staff are not permitted to work if they show symptoms of COVID-19. Staff should report any symptoms developed during shift to their supervisor.
- Staff should be aware of COVID-19 precautions, and physically distance as much as possible, including with other staff. Staff congregating can be a high risk for COVID-19 transmission.
- Train staff in proper use of gloves and masks. Gloves are not essential, but, if used, must be changed frequently and hands washed between uses.
- Consider how to train staff on new procedures/requirements.
- Operators must develop a policy on the wearing of masks. More information is available here.
- Consider policies for customers: for example payment by card preferred/only.
- Cleaning and disinfecting: update protocols for cleaning/disinfecting surfaces and equipment.
- The person responsible for the establishment must ensure that a safety plan is prepared and made available in accordance with section 5 of this Order (O Reg 263/20).
- The safety plan shall describe the measures and procedures that have been implemented or will be implemented in the establishment to reduce the transmission risk of COVID-19.
- The safety plan shall be in writing and be made available to any person for review on request.
- The person responsible for the establishment shall ensure that a copy of the safety plan is posted in a conspicuous place where it is most likely to come to the attention of individuals working in or attending the location.
Prepare the Physical Space
- Check the condition of all food and discard expired or otherwise unfit products.
- Wash, rinse and sanitize all food contact surfaces.
- Ensure hand washing stations are adequate and functional.
- Clean and disinfect all non-food contact surfaces, including high touch areas such as door handles and equipment knobs.
- Check thoroughly for signs of pest activity. Consider contracting a licenced pest management company prior to opening to ensure there is no infestation.
- Clean, sanitize and ensure all hot and cold holding facilities/equipment are functional.
- Where applicable, ensure dishwashing machines are functioning adequately.
- Ensure adequate amounts of sanitizers and detergents are available for manual dishwashing.
- Ensure garbage storage areas are clean and of adequate size for the needs.
- Clean and disinfect washrooms, and ensure adequate supplies are available.
- Ensure faucets are working properly and flush pipes for at least five minutes.
- Demarcate the floor with markers for any areas where a line up may occur.
- Rearrange equipment and/or processes in the kitchen and other areas used by staff so that a two metre/six foot distance is achievable at all times. If not feasible, staff must wear masks.
- Reconfigure break rooms/areas and eating areas for staff to physically distance.
- Provide direction to customers:
- Install directional arrows (e.g. at entrance/exit) if possible.
- Erect signage for physical distancing, passive screening having customers screen themselves by following steps described on a poster, and any policies affecting customers.
- Menus: single-use paper, online for customers’ mobile devices, menu-boards, chalkboards, or regular menus cleaned between uses.
- Table items: replace regular condiments with single-serve versions, or sanitise between uses, consider disposable napkins, etc.
- Signage: post signs on handwashing, physical distancing, reporting symptoms, and make them visible to staff and customers.
Part 2: After Re-Opening
The following are recommended actions to be taken after opening your establishment for business:
- Give attention to key touch points and objects (e.g. food contact surfaces, hand contact areas, door handles, switches, table tops, chairs, sneeze guards, restrooms, taps, utensils and dispensers).
- Shared equipment such as credit card machines and cash registers must be cleaned regularly.
- Consider installing devices such as automatic doors and lights, electronic taps, etc.
- Specify and obtain approved hard-surface cleaning materials. Thoroughly clean the premises before opening.
- More details on cleaning and disinfection are available at Public Health Ontario’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings.
- Maintain cleaning and sanitation logs.
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems
- Ensure the HVAC system(s) are properly maintained.
- Increase outdoor air-exchange by:
- Maximizing the outdoor air ratio of the HVAC system settings, or
- Opening windows and doors, if it is safe to do so
- Use the highest efficiency filters that are compatible with the HVAC system, if provided.
- Keep seating and activities away from air vents and areas with high airflow.
- Do not obstruct HVAC inlets and outlets.
- When using ceiling fans, use an upward airflow rotation.
- If portable fans are used, position fan with an upward movement to avoid blowing of air across people and surfaces.
- There is no evidence the use of portable air purifiers will prevent the spread of COVID-19. If used, follow the manufacturer’s directions to decide where best to place the device. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on maintenance.
- For more information, review the COVID-19: Transmission, Aerosols and Ventilation fact sheet.
Customers and Staff
- Supply dispensers for hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol concentration) to staff and customers, including at the door.
- Minimise unnecessary contact between customers and staff
- Install directional arrows to direct employees and minimize direct contact.
- Have staff practice physical distancing during breaks.
- Assign staff to specific tasks and minimize contact between them.
- Ensure staff have access to gloves and masks as needed.
- Encourage frequent handwashing using the correct technique, and to avoid touching the face.
- Keep a staff log of when and where staff worked, with contact information, in case it is required for contact tracing by public health.
- The owner/operator, or another person appointed for that purpose, should be present and checking to ensure adherence to protocols.
- Businesses open to the public must ensure that any person (patron or employee) in the indoor area of a premises or a vehicle operated as part of the business or organization wears a mask that covers their mouth, nose and chin while the person is in the indoor area unless:
- the area is inaccessible to members of the public and the person is able to keep a minimum of a two metre distance between themselves and any other person ( O Reg 263/20).
- There are numerous exceptions listed in Section 2(4) of Schedule 1(O Reg 263/20) that allow for individuals to not wear a mask indoors, and individuals do not need to present evidence that they are entitled to or qualified to rely on any of the exceptions.
- The use of non-medical masks or face coverings is required for staff in all indoor areas when physical distancing cannot be ensured.
- A person providing services shall wear appropriate PPE that covers their eyes, nose, mouth if:
- they are required to come within two metres of another person not wearing a face mask or covering over his/her mouth 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 above Reg. 654/20.
- No patron may be permitted to line up or congregate outside of the establishment unless they are:
- maintaining a physical distance of at least two metres from other groups of persons outside the establishment, and
- wearing a mask or face covering in a manner that covers their mouth, nose and chin, unless they are entitled to any of the exceptions set out in subsection 2 (4) of Schedule 1.
- Customers who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 should be refused entry. Display posters informing customers that if they have symptoms they cannot enter.
- Consider opening doors and/or windows to increase ventilation.
- Background music and any other background sounds, such as from televisions or other electronic sound producing devices, in an establishment that serves food and drink, must be no louder than the volume of normal conversation. This ensures customers do not have to raise their voices or shout, thereby possibly increasing the risk of transmitting the virus.
- 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.
- It remains critically important to monitor and continue to follow public health advice.
- 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 from every other person in the business or facility (unless they are members of the same household); and
- the number of people occupying any room that is open to the public does not exceed 50 per cent of the capacity of the particular room Reg. 654/20.
- The person responsible for the business or organization must comply with any advice, recommendations, and instructions issued by the Chief Medical Officer of Health on screening for COVID-19 ( O Reg 263/20).
- Workplaces should implement this screening for any workers or essential visitors entering the work environment. This does not include patrons entering a workplace (e.g. customers entering a grocery store, restaurant, bar or other food or drink establishment). It also excludes emergency services or other first responders entering a workplace for emergency purposes.
- 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.
- At a minimum, the questions in the screening tool should be used to screen individuals for COVID-19 before they are permitted entry into the workplace (business or organization). This tool may be adapted based on need and the specific setting.
- Instructions in the screening tool should be followed.
- Anyone who does not pass screening should be advised that they cannot not enter the workplace, and should immediately go home, self-isolate, and call their health care provider or Telehealth Ontario for further advice including on getting tested.
- Once an individual has passed the screening questions, they should be allowed to enter the workplace, but be advised that they should report any symptoms they do experience to their supervisor immediately.
Sale and service of alcohol
- The person responsible for a business or place that is open and in which alcohol is sold or served under a licence or a special occasion permit shall ensure that:
- Alcohol is sold to a patron for removal from the premises, and that it is removed from the premises by the patron, only between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. O Reg 86/20.
- No alcohol is consumed in the business or premises between 10:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. Reg. 654/20.
Download and Print Posters for your Restaurant
Visit our website at www.toronto.ca/COVID19, email DineSafe@toronto.ca, or call us at 416-338-7600.
Download this information as a PDF.