Last updated: July 20, 2021 at 10:15 a.m.

The information on this page provides you with what you need to know to re-open your restaurant, or other food premises, after being closed.

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.

Also read Toronto Public Health’s guidance for entertainment venues.

The Government of Ontario announced that it will move the province into Step Three of its Roadmap to Reopen at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 16. This guidance will soon be updated with more information.

The following recommendations are intended to help organizers, staff and vendors participating in farmers’, fresh food and holiday markets reduce the spread of COVID-19. These markets primarily sell local goods, fresh fruits, vegetables and foods that do not require onsite food preparation.

Owners, operators and vendors are responsible for ensuring that their market is in compliance with these public health guidelines, all emergency orders made under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 and O. Reg. 493/17: Food Premises.  As every market will be different, it is the responsibility of owners/operators and vendors to review their own policies, procedures, and site-specific operations, while ensuring that the appropriate infection prevention and control measures are implemented and maintained. More information about COVID-19 can be found in the COVID-19 Fact Sheet.

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.

Businesses that May Open during Shutdown (O. Reg. 82/20)

  • Indoor farmers’ markets may open if they primarily sell food.
  • Outdoor markets, including farmer’s markets and holiday markets, may open if they meet the following conditions:
    • They primarily sell food to the public.
    • Products must only be provided to customers:
      • in a manner that allows members of the public to remain in an outdoor area at all times, or
      • through an alternative method of sale that does not require customers to enter the indoor area, such as curb side pick-up or delivery.
    • If an area at the market is covered by a roof, canopy, tent, awning or other element, at least two full sides of the entire area must be open to the outdoors and must not be substantially blocked by any walls or other impermeable physical barriers.
    • If an area at the market is equipped with a retractable roof and the roof is retracted, at least one full side of the area must be open to the outdoors and must not be substantially blocked by any walls or other impermeable physical barriers.
    • The outdoor market must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. and must not deliver goods to patrons outside of the hours of 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Measures for All Workplaces, Businesses & Organizations

Review the Guidance for Employers on Preventing COVID-19 in the Workplace to plan and implement protocols to keep staff and customers safe. Operators must also consider the following:

  • Health screening for staff and customers
    • Actively screen every person that works at the business or organization before they enter the premises of the business or organization. Questions can be completed online, on paper, or asked directly. See sample Staff Screening Questionnaire.
    • Post signs at all entrances to the premises in a conspicuous location visible to the public to inform individuals on how to self-screen themselves for COVID-19 prior to entering the premises.
  • Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
    • Provide hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol concentration) by entrances and throughout the market for staff and customers use.
    • Encourage everyone to use hand sanitizer when they enter.
  • Cleaning and disinfection
  • Implement appropriate infection prevention and control measures in all areas accessible to the public, including washrooms, check-out counters, door handles, and other high-touch surfaces.
  • Re-usable items that cannot be easily cleaned and disinfected should not be provided for customer use (e.g. cloth bags).
  • Managing COVID-19 in the workplace
    • In the event that a case of COVID-19 is reported in a staff member or customer, it is not necessary for the vendor/market to discard any food that they may have been in contact with.

Safety Plan

  • Operators must prepare a safety plan, which:
  • Describes measures/procedures that have been or will be implemented in the business, place, facility or establishment to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • Includes measures for screening, physical distancing, masks, cleaning, disinfecting and personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Is in writing and made available to any person for review, on request.
  • Is posted in a visible place to come to the attention of those working or attending the location.
  • Use the COVID-19 Safety Plan Checklist to develop your safety plan.

Use of Masks and Face Coverings

  • The use of non-medical masks or face coverings is required in all indoor public spaces, as per a City of Toronto bylaw and Reg. 82/20.
  • Operators are required to develop a policy on the wearing of masks or face coverings. Use the Mask By-law Checklist and Sample Policy.
  • Masks are strongly recommended when physical distancing cannot be maintained outdoors.

Limit Capacity

  • Limit the number of customers permitted into the market at any given time to ensure everyone is able to maintain at least two metres physical distancing.
  • Indoor and outdoor markets must ensure the total number of members of the public in the market at any one time does not exceed 25 per cent of the capacity.
    • This can be calculated by taking the total square metres of floor space accessible to the public, not including shelving and store fixtures, dividing that number by 16 and rounding the result down to the nearest whole number.
  • Operators must post a sign in a location visible to the public that states the maximum capacity they are permitted to operate under.

Control and Monitor Entry

  • Designate a single entry and exit point to control the number of customers entering the market.
  • Close all other access points to the market using existing barriers/structures.
  • Position staff at the entrance to control customer entry and monitor the number of customers entering and leaving.
  • If the maximum number of customers is reached, allow one person in for every person that leaves.

Implement Measures to Maintain Physical Distancing

  • Plan and modify the layout of the market to ensure enough space is provided for customers, vendors and market staff to maintain at least two metres physical distancing.
  • Design a shopping flow that encourages one-way movement with prominent signage and/or floor markings.
  • Do not provide communal tables or seating in the market.
  • Arrange and modify vendors booths to maintain physical distancing and reduce contact:
    • Increase spacing between vendors booths (e.g. keep an empty area between each booth).
  • Limit the number of employees working within the booth at any one time:
    • Employees should maintain physical distancing from each other and customers, where possible.
    • Assign each employee a specific workstation and task to reduce overlap.
  • Remind customers not to congregate near the booth once they have completed their purchase.
  • Post physical distancing signs in highly visible areas.
  • Stagger load in and load out times, and designate locations for vendor areas prior to market opening.

Monitor and Manage Customer Lines

  • Operators must ensure that customers lining up or congregating outside their establishment:
    • Maintain at least two metres from other groups of persons, and
    • Wear a mask or face covering, unless entitled to an exemption.
    • Place visual markers/cues spaced at least two metres apart (e.g. tape on the floor, pylons, signs) to encourage physical distancing and guide customers waiting in line.
    • Assign staff to monitor lines and to make public announcements reminding customers to keep two metres apart and wear a mask or face covering.

Reduce Contact during Purchases

  • Offer online and/or telephone ordering services that allow customers to order items in advance.
    • Establish and clearly identify pick-up points for advance orders (e.g. drive-through/pedestrian pick-up).
  • Install physical barriers at the point of sale (e.g. plexiglass).
  • Encourage electronic payment by debit or credit card, and to tap instead of using the PIN pad, and assign one employee to process all transactions.
  • Leave the customers purchases on the counter or set-up a side table for the customer to pick it up while maintaining at least a two metre distance from employees.

Implement Measures to Protect Food from Contamination

  • Prepackage foods offered for sale to reduce handling and direct contact.
  • Keep food out of the customer’s reach to discourage handling.
  • Food sampling must be served in a prepackaged format, for take-home consumption.
  • Do not handle reusable containers/bags supplied by the customer.
  • Encourage customers to take their purchased foods home and wash them thoroughly with water before eating.

Practice Proper Glove Use

  • Glove use is not mandatory for food vendors. Gloves are not a substitute for proper hand hygiene.
  • If vendors/employees use gloves they should be changed every hour, or more often as necessary.
  • Hands should be washed with soap and water for 20 seconds before putting on and after taking off gloves.
  • Change gloves when changing tasks, after touching your face, or coming in contact with an item that may have germs.
  • When gloves are removed, new gloves must be used each time.

Food and Beverage Preparation and Consumption

  • Indoor and outdoor dining is not permitted. Food or drink establishments are permitted to open only for the purposes of providing take-away, drive-through or delivery service. Operators should review Guidance for Food Premises for more information.
  • Vendors should not engage in onsite food/beverage preparation at temporary establishments (e.g. special event tents/booths).
  • Ensure customers do not consume food or drink while they are in the market area.

Music/Noise

  • Music played in the facility cannot exceed the decibel level at which normal conversation is possible.

Increase Public Awareness

  • Communicate COVID-19 measures and market expectations with all vendors prior to attending the market.
  • Provide information to customers about market operations (e.g. public health measures, advance order options, curbside pickup).
  • Encourage staff, vendors 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.
  • Post signs at the entrance instructing staff, vendors and customers not to attend the market if they are sick.
  • Post educational materials to encourage healthy behaviours that reduce the spread of COVID-19:

Other Resources


Download this information as a PDF.

Resource:

Read Toronto Public Health’s Guidance for Food Banks and Donation Centres.

The Government of Ontario announced that it will move the province into Step Three of its Roadmap to Reopen at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 16. This guidance will soon be updated with more information.

The following guidance is to support owners and operators of food stores, including grocery stores, supermarkets and pharmacies, to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Owners and operators are responsible for ensuring that their food store is in compliance with these public health guidelines, and all emergency orders made under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020. As every food store will be different, it is the responsibility of owners/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. Food premises must also comply at all times with O. Reg. 493/17: Food Premises made under the Health Protection and Promotion Act. More information about COVID-19 can be found in the Toronto Public Health (TPH) COVID-19 Fact Sheet

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.

Measures for all Workplaces, Businesses and Organizations

Review the Guidance for Employers on Preventing COVID-19 in the Workplace to plan and implement protocols to keep staff and customers safe. Operators must also consider the following:

  • Health screening for staff and customers
    • Actively screen every person that works at the business or organization before they enter the premises of the business or organization. Questions can be completed online, on paper, or asked directly. See sample Staff Screening Questionnaire.
    • Post signs at all entrances to the premises in a conspicuous location visible to the public to inform individuals on how to self-screen themselves for COVID-19 prior to entering the premises.
  • Cleaning and disinfection
  • Develop enhanced environmental cleaning and disinfection policies and procedures.
  • Clean and disinfect shopping carts and baskets after each use. Have a clearly designated drop off area for used carts and baskets.
    • Consider providing disinfecting wipes for customer use to wipe down handles on shopping carts and hand baskets.
  • The province has also provided additional COVID-19 guidance for food premises.
    • For cleaning and sanitizing food contract surfaces, equipment and utensils, follow standards prescribed in Reg. 497/17: Food Premises.
  • Managing COVID-19 in the workplace
    • Employers must immediately notify Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600 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, as per Toronto Public Health Instructions for Workplaces.
    • In the event that a case of COVID-19 is reported in a staff member or customer, it is not necessary for the store to discard any food that they may have been in contact with.

Use of Masks and Face Coverings

  • All staff and customers must wear a mask or face covering indoors, as per City of Toronto bylaw and Reg. 82/20.
    • Some exceptions apply, including children under the age of two, and people with medical conditions that make wearing a mask difficult.
  • Operators are required to develop a policy on the wearing of masks or face coverings. Use the Mask By-law Checklist & Sample Policy.
  • Masks or face coverings are strongly recommended outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • See Guidance for Employers on Preventing COVID-19 in the Workplace for more information.

Safety Plan

  • Operators must prepare a safety plan, which:
  • Describes measures/procedures that have been or will be implemented in the business, place, facility or establishment to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • Includes measures for screening, physical distancing, masks, cleaning, disinfecting and PPE.
  • Is in writing and made available to any person for review, on request.
  • Is posted in a visible place to come to the attention of those working or attending the location.
  • Use the COVID-19 Safety Plan Checklist to develop your safety plan.

Staff Training

  • Staff should receive clear instructions on the new mask policy, and understand who is exempted from wearing a mask. Proof of exemption by customers is not required.
  • Educate staff on the proper use of masks/face coverings. They should change masks when moist or dirty, but in areas away from customers (e.g. lunch room, private office).
  • More information on the use of non-medical masks or face coverings can be found here.
  • Discourage staff from gathering together in the lunchroom or common areas.
  • Educate staff on hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette:
    • Wash hands frequently with liquid soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds, or use hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol concentration) if water and soap is not available.
    • Cover cough or sneeze with the elbow or a tissue. Immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash hands.
  • Educate staff on the proper use of gloves. If staff use gloves, it is important to change them every hour, or more often, as necessary.
    • Hands should be washed and/or sanitized between changes.
    • Remove gloves when changing tasks.
    • When gloves are removed, new gloves must be used each time.
  • Encourage staff 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.

Discount and Big Box Stores that Sell Groceries to the Public

  • In-store shopping can be available for grocery items, pet care supplies, household cleaning supplies, pharmaceutical items, health care items, school supplies, household safety supplies and personal care items.
  • No other goods or services may be sold to the public unless the discount or big box retailer complies with any conditions that are applicable with respect to the sale of those goods or services by other retail establishments under Reg. 82/20.
  • See Guidance for Retail Settings for more information.

Capacity Limits

  • Operators shall limit the number of people in the place of business or facility so that:
    • members of the public are able to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person; and
    • the total number of members of the public in the business or facility at any one time does not exceed 25 per cent capacity for supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor and outdoor farmers’ markets, discount and big box stores, other stores that primarily sell food, and pharmacies.
      • This can be determined by taking the total square metres of floor space accessible to the public, not including shelving and store fixtures, dividing that number by 16 and rounding the result down to the nearest whole number.
      • Discount and big box stores must calculate capacity limits based on the floor area accessible to the public in which the products permitted for in-store shopping are normally displayed for sale.
  • Operators must post a sign in a location visible to the public that states the maximum capacity they are permitted to operate under.

Entrances

  • Position an employee at the entrance to control customer entry.
  • Stagger customer entry into the store to prevent crowding.
  • Monitor the number of customers entering and leaving the store.
  • Once the capacity limit is reached, allow one customer in for every customer that leaves.
  • Make alcohol-based hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol concentration) available for use by the entrance.

Managing Lines

  • Operators must ensure that customers lining up or congregating outside their establishment:
    • Maintain at least two metres physical distancing from other groups of people, and
    • Wear a mask or face covering, unless entitled to an exemption.
  • Use visual markers, stickers or pylons to encourage physical distancing while waiting outside.

Physical Distancing

  • Remind customers and staff to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from those outside their household.
  • Post physical distancing signs at all entrances, service counters, and cashiers.
  • Place markers or circles on the ground so customers know where to stand when waiting or interacting with staff.
  • Design a shopping flow for the whole store (e.g. creating one-directional aisles with prominent signage and/or floor markings), where appropriate.
  • Install plexiglass/barriers, if possible, where there will be close contact between staff and customers, at service counters and cashiers.
  • Set-up portable barriers around employees when restocking (e.g. produce carts).
  • Consider assigning an employee to direct customers to the cashier as they become available.
  • Stagger the number of cashier stations, including at self-serve stations, open at any given time (e.g. every other station is used), where possible.

Purchases

  • Provide clean carry-out bags for purchased food and grocery products.
  • Customers that bring their own reusable bags or boxes should package their own purchases.
  • Encourage electronic payment by debit or credit card, and touchless payment, instead of pin pad use, where possible.
  • Limit the handling of credit cards and loyalty cards, wherever possible.
  • Consider using one cashier for cash payments.
  • Avoid using grocery dividers on conveyor belts at cashier stations, where possible. Consider single use disposable dividers or direct customers to leave a space.
  • Update return policies to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. This may include:
    • Eliminating the opportunity to return purchased goods (i.e. final sale only).
    • Cleaning and disinfecting hard-surfaced goods prior to placing them back onto the sales floor.
    • Storing soft-surface items (e.g. cloth) for a period of 3 – 7 days prior to resale.

Self-Service of Food or Beverage

  • Buffet-style or self-service of ready-to-eat and/or unpackaged bulk food are not permitted.
  • Self-serve beverages (e.g. soda, coffee) are also not permitted.
  • Staff may serve customers cafeteria style for take-away consumption, provided all public health measures outlined in this document are adhered to (e.g. physical distancing, one-way flow, and plexiglass barriers).
  • Pre-package bulk food items, where possible.
  • Gravity feed bins may be used but should be cleaned and disinfected frequently.
  • Food sampling must be served in a prepackaged format, for take-home consumption.

Music/Noise

  • Music played in the facility cannot exceed the decibel level at which normal conversation is possible.

Vulnerable Populations

  • Support vulnerable populations (e.g. seniors, people with underlying medical conditions) with access to dedicated store hours. Choose times at the start of the day, when the store is freshly cleaned for this shopping.
  • Consider offering online or telephone food and grocery orders with contactless delivery or curb side pickup services as alternatives to shopping in person.

Communication

  • Provide information to customers about store operations (e.g. public health measures, advance order options, curbside pickup).
  • Designate a contact person (e.g. supervisor) to respond to COVID-19 concerns from staff and customers.
  • Print and post signs in highly visible areas, including at entrances, service counters, cashiers, and washrooms as a reminder for everyone to practice public health measures:

Other Resources


Download this information as a PDF.

Further guidance for food premises is available on the Ontario Ministry of Health’s website.

The Government of Ontario announced that it will move the province into Step Three of its Roadmap to Reopen  at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 16. This guidance will soon be updated with more information. For more information please refer to O. Reg. 364/20: Rules for Areas at Step 3 under Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, S.O. 2020, c. 17, as these requirements apply to all businesses or organizations that are permitted to open, such as restaurants, bars, food trucks, concession stands and other food or drink establishments.

Resources for Restaurants, Bars and Other Food Service Premises

Student nutrition programs (SNPs) provide nutritious meals and snacks to students to give them the nutrients and energy they need to be ready to learn. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that SNPs continue to offer access to safe, adequate and nutritious food during the school day, as outlined in the Nutrition Guidelines for Student Nutrition Programs.

The following interim guidance is to support SNP volunteer coordinators, parents, community members and staff operate an SNP, and to reduce the spread of COVID-19. SNPs must operate in accordance with all emergency orders made under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, in addition to Ontario Regulation 493/17 – Food Premises. As every SNP site will be different, it is the responsibility of SNP volunteer coordinators to review their own policies, procedures, and site-specific operations, while ensuring that the appropriate infection prevention and control measures are implemented and maintained.

More information about COVID-19 can be found in the Toronto Public Health (TPH) COVID-19 Fact Sheet.

Before Re-opening

Review Information on:

  • The mask or face covering policy for the particular SNP site (e.g. school, community centre).
  • The proper use of masks/face coverings.
    • Go to a private area away from others (e.g. private office) to change masks when moist or dirty.
    • More information on the use of masks or face coverings can be found here.
  • Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette:
    • When preparing food, wash hands frequently with liquid soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds.
    • Cover coughs or sneezes with the elbow or a tissue. Immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash hands.
  • The proper use of gloves. Glove use is not essential, but if used, it is important to change them every hour, or more often, as necessary.
    • Hands should be washed and/or sanitized between changes.
    • Remove gloves when changing tasks.
    • When gloves are removed, new gloves must be used each time. Do not wear used gloves.
  • The COVID Alert app, so you can be notified directly if you have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.

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, equipment and utensils.
  • Ensure hand washing stations are functional and provided with adequate supplies.
  • Clean and disinfect all non-food contact surfaces, including high-touch areas such as door handles and equipment knobs. Refer to section on cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Check thoroughly for signs of pest activity.
  • Clean, sanitize and ensure all hot and cold holding facilities/equipment are functional, where applicable.
  • Ensure dishwashing machines are functioning properly, where applicable.
  • Ensure adequate amounts of sanitizers and detergents are available for manual dishwashing.
  • Plan and modify the layout of the SNP areas (e.g. rearrange equipment or processes) to ensure enough space is provided such that all persons can maintain a physical distance of two metres (six feet) between each other.
    • To calculate the maximum number of people permitted in a SNP area at any one time, assume one person per two metres square (43 square feet) of available floor space.
    • Post signage at the entrance to the SNP area indicating the maximum number of persons that can be permitted at any one time.
    • Design a flow of traffic that encourages one-way movement with visible signage and/or floor markings.
  • Provide physical cues or guides for people by placing markers such as tape or stickers, every two metres (six feet), where appropriate (e.g. food pick-up areas).
  • Follow enhanced environmental cleaning and disinfection policies and procedures for the site that the SNP is operating at (e.g. school, community centre), including approved chemicals, if applicable.
  • Download, print and post signs in highly visible locations in the SNP area(s) to raise awareness about health and safety measures that can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 such as:

*Note: SNPs should use the appropriate poster designated by the site where it operates.

During Active Operation

Health Screening and Attendance

  • Ensure all staff/volunteers complete a health screening questionnaire before each shift. The questions can be completed online, or on paper. Follow the health screening requirements for the designated SNP site (e.g. school, community centre), where applicable.
  • Adjust hours and shifts to reduce the number of people in the SNP area at any one time.
  • Instruct staff/volunteers to report any illness to the site authority (e.g. school principal).
  • If staff/volunteers become ill with symptoms of COVID-19 while at the SNP site, they should inform the site authority immediately, and then go home right away and self-isolate. Instruct them to call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000, a health care provider, or an Assessment Centre to get tested.
  • In general, individuals can return to the SNP site 14 days after their symptoms began if they had COVID-19.
  • There are no clearance tests required for staff/volunteers to return to the SNP site.
  • For other illnesses, or if staff/volunteers tested negative for COVID-19, they should not attend the SNP site until they are symptom-free for at least 24 hours.

Physical Distancing

  • Physical distancing refers to the practice of avoiding close contact by keeping a distance of two metres (six feet) from others.
  • Arrange, mark and/or assign workstations to ensure a minimum two metres/six feet distance between people in the SNP space.
  • Designate and manage entry and exit points to maintain physical distancing.
  • Avoid having people gather in the SNP areas.
  • Physical distancing should be maintained when accepting deliveries from suppliers and dropping off and picking up bins/trays.
    • Schedule times with individuals to pick up/drop-off items.
    • Stagger arrivals to reduce congestion, where possible.
  • Monitor and manage possible student lines outside and within the SNP area(s).
    • Place visual markers every two metres (six feet) apart (e.g. stickers/tape on the floor, pylons, signs) to encourage physical distancing and guide volunteers, staff and students.
    • Request that volunteers, staff and students come one at a time to and pick-up their bins/trays.

Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette

  • Wash hands thoroughly with liquid soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds.
    • Direct staff and volunteers to wash their hands frequently when handling and preparing food.
    • Remember to avoid touching your face, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Hand sanitizers are not a replacement for washing your hands with soap and water, and should not be used in the food preparation area by food handlers when handling or preparing food.
  • Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue. If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve.
  • Monitor supplies to ensure adequate amounts of liquid soap, paper towel (air dryer if paper towels are not available), tissues and waste containers with lined plastic bags.

Food Safety and COVID-19

  • The risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus through food is thought to be low.
  • There is currently no evidence of COVID-19 being transmitted through food or food packaging. However, food should be protected from contamination at all times, as outlined in Ontario Regulation 493/17 – Food Premises.
  • Ensure good food safety practices, in addition to the infection prevention and control measures outlined in this document, are followed when handling, preparing, transporting and serving food.

Preparing and Handling Food

  • Food handling outside of the food preparation area should be minimized as much as possible.
  • Hand contact should be minimized where possible by using utensils, especially when handling ready-to-eat foods, such as cut apples, carrots and cucumbers.
  • Pre-portion food items, where possible, such as individually packaging food items in containers or wrapping, before transporting to the area where it will be served.
  • If it is not feasible to pre-portion food in advance, food can be portioned in the serving area as long as the practice of minimizing food handling is followed.
    • For example, a teacher could portion food items, such as crackers or baby carrots, onto individual plates prior to service from a larger box/bag. Teachers must wash their hands prior to food handling and utensils should be used, where possible.
    • Only one person should use a serving utensil.
  • Food items such as whole fruits (e.g. apples, bananas, clementines) and grain products (e.g. muffins, crackers) do not need to be individually wrapped provided they are transported and served in a manner to prevent contamination.
  • Food items can be put together in one container (e.g. paper or plastic bag) for each student, or each item can be available for students to take from its own bin/tray.
    • For example, if the meal includes a granola bar, a carton of milk, and a banana, these items can be packaged together into one bag and put into a bin OR each item could be put into a separate bin/tray.
  • Depending on the food items, the use of trays are preferred over bins (e.g. loose apples) to allow for easier selection of food by students and minimizing hand contact.

Transporting Food

  • Bins or trays can be used to transport snacks and meals, provided all food is protected from contamination (e.g. food grade plastic/paper wrap, containers with covers, prepackaged foods).
  • Before food bins or trays are picked up from the food preparation area, staff/volunteers/students should wash their hands with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol concentration) if their hands are not visibly dirty, and be instructed not to touch the food in their bins/trays.
  • Bins and trays for food must be washed, rinsed and sanitized after each use, and when visibly dirty, whichever is more frequent.
    • If a bin or tray is stored in an area where people can touch it over a period of a day or week (e.g. outside a classroom), the bin/trays should be washed, rinsed and sanitized every day.

Serving Food

  • When serving food, hand contact should be minimized by using utensils, especially when handling unwrapped foods.
  • Grab-and go-formats are preferred.
    • For example, food items can be put together in one container (e.g. paper or plastic bag) for each student, or each item can be available for students to take from its own bin/tray.
    • Students should either wash their hands with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer, if their hands are not visibly dirty, prior to selecting and eating food.
    • Students should select and touch only the food they are taking.
    • Common utensils should not be used.
  • Buffet-style or self-service of food or drink, where students are able to select from unpackaged or prepared food (e.g. passing around a tray with common utensils to serve yourself) is currently not permitted.
  • A teacher can portion and/or serve food items onto individual plates prior to service. Teachers must wash their hands with soap and water prior to food handling, and utensils should be used, where possible.
    • Teachers may use a barrier (e.g. paper towel), in place of a utensil to serve food to students (e.g. apples, bananas).

Attendance Records and Contact Tracing

  • Keep a log of when and where volunteers worked, with contact information (i.e. name and phone number or email address), in case it is required for contact tracing by Toronto Public Health.
  • Toronto Public Health will use this list to help with contact tracing efforts in the event that a person tests positive or an outbreak is identified.
  • Protect the personal information you collect (e.g. locked drawer/office).
  • Keep records for 30 days, and then destroy the information (i.e. shred/delete).
  • Call us at 416-338-7600 if you have been notified that a staff or volunteer has tested positive and/or you have concerns that others may have been exposed while at the SNP.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

  • Maintain a log to track cleaning and disinfecting activities.
  • Clean and disinfect high touch, non-food contact surfaces, at least twice per day, and when visibly dirty (g. light switches, door knobs, hand rails, tables).
  • Review Public Health Ontario’s Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings fact sheet.
  • For washing, rinsing and sanitizing food contract surfaces, equipment and utensils, follow requirements in Ontario Regulation 493/17 – Food Premises. The province has also provided additional COVID-19 guidance for food premises.

Other Resources


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

Learn more about student nutrition programs (also available in French).