Reopening Your Business During COVID-19

NOTE: If working during COVID-19, be aware of Employee Health and Safety considerations

Who can reopen?

Common Health and Safety Measures to Follow

To protect employers, employees and customers, the province is recommending common health and safety measures across all business sectors. They are listed below as general guidelines. You are strongly urged to review the sector-specific guidelines for your store/business to ensure you follow all the rules. Ontario has also released a new COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan for employers to put in place specific controls to make the workplace safer for everyone. 

Physical Distancing
  • Limit face-to-face contact  
  • Ensure that customers/clients and staff maintain a distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from each other as much as possible 
  • Control and restrict the number and flow of customers/clients at any one time in your store/business to maintain physical distancing 
  • Post signs to remind customers/clients to maintain physical distancing 
  • Install partitions wherever possible to protect staff and customers/clients 
  • Provide online ordering services and contactless delivery wherever possible 
  • Ensure that workstations are 2 metres (6 feet) apart, install barriers or partitions, or rearrange workstations as needed 
  • Post signs to remind employees to maintain physical distancing 
  • Stagger employee start- and break-times. Consider changing the rotation of shifts 
  • Wherever possible, avoid sharing work stations, tools and equipment 
  • Postpone all non-essential tasks 
  • Allow employees to work from home wherever possible 
  • Hold meetings by teleconference or online instead of meeting in person 
  • If direct customer/client contact is essential, ensure employees wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suitable for their jobs (for example: gloves, masks) 
Screening
Cleaning and Disinfecting
  • Clean and disinfect all commonly touched or shared surfaces frequently 
  • Workstations, tools and equipment must be cleaned before use by another employee 
  • Follow these public health guidelines for cleaning/disinfecting public washrooms
Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette
  • Provide hand washing supplies and appropriate facilities 
  • Post signs to remind employees to wash their hands with soap and water frequently 
  • Post signs to remind employees of respiratory etiquette (coughing into sleeves, etc.) 
  • Food buffets should be closed. Instead food should be prepared and packaged to limit possible contamination 
  • Provide hand sanitizer at entrances whenever possible 

What if There is a Case of COVID-19 in My Workplace?
Employees/Co-workers
  • Anyone with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 must NOT go to work and should self-isolate at home. If contact with a positive case is confirmed, further directions will be provided by the Health Unit
  • Physical distancing rules at work mean employees should not be in close contact with each other. If, however, an employee is identified as being a close contact of a co-worker who is confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19, the person should immediately take Ontario’s online COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to see what further care is needed or call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 The employee may also be contacted by the Health Unit with further directions on what to do, including self-isolating or self-monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Employers are strongly urged to support the COVID-19 instructions your employees have received from any health care provider. This protects the health of your workers and customers
  • Encourage everyone at work to continue following physical distancing rules (staying 2 metres or 6 feet apart from others) and regularly wash hands with soap and water
  • Continue to frequently clean and disinfect commonly touched or shared surfaces at work, including tools, equipment and workstations.
Customers/Clients
  • Follow direction from the Health Unit about any extra precautions that are needed to reduce the risk of illness. These directives can include: getting employees/staff who were in close contact with the customer/client to self-isolate or self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, increasing cleaning and disinfecting at your workplace, and other measures
  • Continue to keep employees and customers safe:
    • Follow provincial rules that specify how your business/workplace can operate (for example, only offer curbside pickup, limit number of people in store, etc.).
    • Ensure a 2-metre (6-foot) distance is kept between people.
    • Reduce overcrowding.
    • Increase your online or phone services
    • Offer curb-side delivery
    • Make hand sanitizer available for customers at entry and exit points.

Information/Resources for Specific Businesses to Reopen

Visit the Ontario government website for a full list of sector-specific guidelines. You can also go to these Ontario health and safety associations for more COVID-19 health and safety advice tailored to your business: 

Workplace Safety and Prevention Services 
  • Serves: Agriculture, manufacturing, and service sectors 
  • Contact: Toll-free 1-877-494-9777 
  • On Twitter @WSPS_News 
Public Services Health and Safety Association 
  • Serves: Hospitals, nursing and retirement homes, residential and community care, universities and colleges, school boards, libraries and museums, municipalities, provincial government and agencies, police, fire and paramedics and First Nations. 
  • Contact: Toll-free: 1-877-250-7444  
  • On Twitter @PSHSAca 
Workplace Safety North
  • Serves (province wide): Forestry, mining, smelters, refineries, paper, printing and converting. 
  • Contact: Toll-free 1-888-730-7821 
  • On Twitter @WSN_News 
Infrastructure Health and Safety Association
  • Serves: Construction, electrical and utilities, aggregates, natural gas, ready-mix concrete and transportation. 
  • Contact: Toll-free 1-800-263-5024 
  • On Twitter @IHSAnews 
Personal Protective Equipment
  • Ensure employees have the protection they need to do their jobs. The provincial government has created a new website to help businesses find Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suppliers. Click here for a directory of PPE suppliers.

Reporting Workplace Health and Safety Concerns

File a complaint if you believe conditions in a workplace are unsafe, or if you or someone else is experiencing  harassment or violence on the job. Before reporting a situation, you can: 

  • Discuss your concerns with your supervisor or employer 
  • Consult your Joint Health and Safety Committee member or Health and Safety representative (if there is one) 

If the situation continues after trying to raise your concerns, you can file a complaint with the Ontario Health and Safety Contact Centre


Health Unit Support for Workplaces
  • Search this website for current information and resources about important public health measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including videos and printable resources 
  • For specific COVID-19 related questions and concerns, contact the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020 or info@hkpr.on.ca 
  • Call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5006, if you have concerns involving any of the following:   
    • Child Care Facilities 
    • Recreational Camps 
    • Personal Services Settings (including mobile and home-based settings) 
    • Tanning Salons 
    • Facilities Providing Indoor Recreational Programs Including Indoor Public Pools and Whirlpools 
    • Food Premises, including restaurants 
    • Theatres and Cinemas (including drive-ins) 
    • Trailer Parks 
    • Schools (Public and Private) 

Back to Your Work

Related Articles

Edit View
Employee Health and Safety During COVID-19Hand Hygiene/Respiratory Etiquette at WorkMask Use during COVID-19Physical Distancing at WorkProvincial and Federal Benefits and Income Supports


Follow us for COVID-19 Updates

You can find and follow updates on COVID-19 in your local community via the following HKPR resources:

[jetpack_subscription_form title=”” subscribe_text=”Subscribe by email to receive updates” subscribe_button=”Subscribe”]

If you have questions about COVID-19, you can contact the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 x5020 or email at info@hkpr.on.ca

Service Providers Working With Vulnerable Clients

It’s essential to slow the spread of COVID-19, especially to vulnerable clients. If you are a service provider working with vulnerable clients, you can access link/resources below to protect the health of staff, volunteers and clients.  

Gatherings of People

To slow the spread of COVID-19, restrictions are in place on the number of people who can attend large gatherings. As of June 12, Ontario is increasing the limit on social gatherings from five to 10 people.

General Tips
  • Access  short Health Unit video modules  on how to prepare your workplace/organization for COVID-19. 
  • Know what to do if your staff or client has COVID-19 symptoms, or been in close contact with someone who  has been confirmed. Use the Ontario Ministry of Health’s Self-Assessment Tool to help determine what you should do. 
  • Maintain a clean and safe environment 
  • Staff and volunteers MUST stay home when sick 
  • Practise regular and frequent hand washing/sanitizing 
  • Practise physical distancing 
  • Increase surface cleaning/ disinfection especially on high-touch surfaces 
  • Practise respiratory etiquette 
  • Post information and insist staff, volunteers and clients cough or sneeze into the elbow, sleeve or tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash hands. 
  • Clients/participants MUST NOT share items (e.g. drinking cups, utensils) 
  • Develop an organizational plan in the event COVID-19 is spreading in the community. Consider how to:  protect staff; protect those clients more vulnerable to COVID-19 (seniors 65+ and those with compromised immune system); provide isolation opportunities for those who require it; modify service delivery based on staff capacity; and reduce fear, barriers, and stigma around COVID-19 by providing credible information. 
  • Contact 211 Community Support to find/search government and community-based services during COVID-19.  Call or text 2-1-1 day or night to find support for all of life’s challenges. Live Chat also available Monday to Friday from 7 am to 9 pm. 

For Homeless Shelters and Service Providers 

For Food Banks/Food Program Providers 

In your Food Program Location: 

  • Each food bank or food program is set up differently. Change the layout to reduce contact between clients 
  • Pre-pack food boxes or bags and pass out food at the door 
  • Stagger arrivals and departures to reduce client contact 
  • Remove client wait areas. Get people to wait outdoors, standing at least 2 metres apart. 
  • Practise physical distancing. Keep at least two meters away from each other, especially if someone may be sick. 
  • Consider safe delivery options to get food to high-risk clients 
  • Allow staff and volunteers to fill out any forms or paperwork on behalf of clients. (NOTE: Clients must be able to view and verbally verify the information documented is correct. Staff and volunteers cannot sign on behalf of a client.)  
  • Extend hours or open at additional times or days so clients are spread out.  
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick. Clients who are ill MUST stay home and have a friend or neighbour pick up their food or meal items instead.  

Remember Safe Food Handling 

  • Temporarily postpone any food demos or cooking classes. Do not serve food and beverages 
  • Stay at home and away from others if you’re feeling ill 
  • Increase access to handwashing stations  
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, using single use paper towel to dry hands and to close taps 
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer  
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, all phones, counters, handles on cabinets, fridges, utility or grocery carts, pens, computers stations, etc. 
  • Do not allow clients to handle food items. Let staff/volunteers do this for clients 
  • Remind staff, volunteers and clients to sneeze or cough into their sleeves 

Food Distribution Considerations: 

  • Consider if your organization can provide service to individuals in isolation or quarantine, such as dropping off meals or supplies 
  • Consider pre-packing food boxes or bags and pass out food at the door 
  • Pre-bag produce to limit direct touching 
  • Create an alternate delivery system such as a drive-through where clients pull up in their cars and volunteers deliver a prepackaged bag to them 
  • Mobile food distribution could be considered to deliver food to clients who are ill 
  • Prepare and plan for operations with a reduced workforce and fewer volunteers 
  • Plan to reduce services, but also anticipate when you may need to ramp them up 

Additional Resources

Download and print resources below:

Fact Sheet: Take Care of Yourself and Each Other – Public Health Ontario

Dating During COVID-19

The pandemic has changed many things, including the way people interact with others. If you’re in a relationship, dating during COVID-19 may have some benefits. Not only is virtual dating from home cheaper, but you don’t need to get dressed up or drive anywhere. But just like working from home, dating from home comes with some challenges. 

Reduce your risk of spreading COVID-19 while dating by following these tips: 

  • Become comfortable with on-line dating. Connect with dates online through social media, chat or video apps.   
  • Be mindful of your personal safety. Do not provide your home address or other personal information until you better know the person. The usual dating safety rules still apply. 
  • Don’t share personal photos or videos that you may regret sharing later.   
  • Schedule virtual dates and spend time together online or by phone. Try these ideas to make the date more meaningful: arrange to cook the same recipe; eat takeout that you ordered from the same restaurant; or watch the same movie.  
  • Having an in-person date increases the risk of spreading COVID-19. If you go this route, reduce your risk of illness by meeting outdoors and practising physical distancing by staying 2 metres (6 feet) apart. The usual dating safety rules apply, such as letting others know your plans and meeting in a safe place. 
  • If you continue or start a sexual relationship with someone outside of your household during COVID-19, you and your partner face an increased risk of spreading the virus. Instead, you should wait until provincial guidelines change to allow close contact with those outside of your household. 
  • If you’re considering having sex at this time:   
  • Remember if your partner has COVID-19, there’s a good chance you could get it too due to close contact 
  • Avoid having sex with a partner who is not feeling well.  
  • Use condoms and other forms of birth control to prevent HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections and unplanned pregnancy. 

During COVID-19, some Health Unit programs and services, including Sexual Health Clinics, are not running. But you can still call 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1205 to speak to a Sexual Health Nurse with any questions or concerns. If needed, you can be directed to other care providers.   

Additional Resources: 

Sexual Health Clinics – HKPR District Health Unit 
Sex and COVID-19 – Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada 
Sexual Health Ontario 
Sex and U 

Stigma and COVID-19

Stigma may not be a direct symptom of COVID-19, but it can be part of the fallout from the virus. 

Stigma is the result of a bias shown towards a certain group of people. Stigma often takes the form of fear, blame, discrimination, unfair treatment and even violence. People who face stigma can suffer physical, mental and emotional health problems. It may also cause them to hide a condition or illness.

As stigma can often be the result of fear and misunderstanding, credible information and support from others can help to increase understanding and prevent stigma.

Help Prevent Stigma:
  • Share facts from reliable sources 
  • Bust myths by correcting misconceptions
  • Use accurate medical and scientific language
  • Show support to people who are facing stigma and lead by example
Additional Resources: 

Testing for COVID-19 – What Now?

Testing for COVID-19 is a critical step in stopping the spread of illness. In certain cases, you may be directed by your health care provider or the Health Unit to be tested for COVID-19.  

Where and When to Get Tested 
  • Get tested if: 
  • You can also call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020, for more advice 
  • COVID-19 Assessment Centres can test and assist people who are suspected of having COVID-19.  
  • It can take up to seven days to receive lab test results for COVID-19. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, have been exposed to someone with the virus, or have been directed by the Health Unit, you MUST remain in self-isolation and monitor your symptoms. If at any time you develop symptoms or they get worse, contact the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020. If you have a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.  
  • You can check your COVID-19 lab results using an online portal provided by the Provincial government. To get results, you will need your OHIP card number and address. If you cannot get your results online, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020. 
  • Follow this link for follow up instructions after you’ve been tested for COVID-19.
If You Test Positive for COVID-19 
  • You MUST continue to self isolate if you test positive for the virus. The Health Unit will call you as soon as possible about your test results and ask you questions about places you have visited and people who you were in close contact. Anyone in close contact with you may be at risk from COVID-19 themselves, so must be called. Your help in answering Health Unit questions is essential to protect the health of others in the community.   
  • You will receive daily phone calls from the Health Unit to see how you are doing and to monitor any symptoms you have. The Health Unit will also ensure you are staying in self-isolation at home. Health Unit staff can discuss any supports you need and respond to your questions. 
  • If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 and do NOT stay at home in self-isolation, you could be served with a Class Order under Section 22 (5.01.1) of the Health Protection and Promotion Act. This order states you must stay home in self-isolation or face daily fines or imprisonment for not doing so. 
  • Typically, you can stop self-isolating 14 days after you first had COVID-19 symptoms or when you tested positive (as long as you do not have a fever and any other symptoms are getting better). To be safe, do not stop self-isolating until you receive the all-clear from the Health Unit.  
  • Visit the Ontario government website to learn more about COVID-19 testing. 
Close Contacts 
  • The Health Unit will follow up with anyone who has been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. This is called contact tracing.  
  • Individuals who are considered close contacts to someone who has COVID-19 can include: 
    • Family members/people living in the same household 
    • Anyone who had direct contact with a positive COVID-19 case 
  • The Health Unit will follow up with these close contacts and give instructions on what they need to do (like self-isolating) to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Health Unit will also do daily phone calls with close contacts to check in on them and ensure they follow public health directions. 

Reopening Your Business During COVID-19

NOTE: If working during COVID-19, be aware of Employee Health and Safety considerations.

Who can reopen?

Common Health and Safety Measures to Follow

To protect employers, employees and customers, the province is recommending common health and safety measures across all business sectors. They are listed below as general guidelines. You are also strongly urged to review the sector-specific guidelines for your store/business to ensure you follow all the rules. 

Physical Distancing
  • Limit face-to-face contact  
  • Ensure that customers/clients and staff maintain a distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from each other as much as possible 
  • Control and restrict the number and flow of customers/clients at any one time in your store/business to maintain physical distancing 
  • Post signs to remind customers/clients to maintain physical distancing 
  • Install partitions wherever possible to protect staff and customers/clients 
  • Provide online ordering services and contactless delivery wherever possible 
  • Ensure that workstations are 2 metres (6 feet) apart, install barriers or partitions, or rearrange workstations as needed 
  • Post signs to remind employees to maintain physical distancing 
  • Stagger employee start- and break-times. Consider changing the rotation of shifts 
  • Wherever possible, avoid sharing work stations, tools and equipment 
  • Postpone all non-essential tasks 
  • Allow employees to work from home wherever possible 
  • Hold meetings by teleconference or online instead of meeting in person 
  • If direct customer/client contact is essential, ensure employees wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suitable for their jobs (for example: gloves, masks) 
Screening
Cleaning and Disinfecting
  • Clean and disinfect all commonly touched or shared surfaces frequently 
  • Workstations, tools and equipment must be cleaned before use by another employee 
  • Follow these public health guidelines for cleaning/disinfecting public washrooms
Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette
  • Provide hand washing supplies and appropriate facilities 
  • Post signs to remind employees to wash their hands with soap and water frequently 
  • Post signs to remind employees of respiratory etiquette (coughing into sleeves, etc.) 
  • Food buffets should be closed. Instead food should be prepared and packaged to limit possible contamination 
  • Provide hand sanitizer at entrances whenever possible 

What if There is a Case of COVID-19 in My Workplace?
Employees/Co-workers
  • Anyone with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 must NOT go to work and should self-isolate at home. If contact with a positive case is confirmed, further directions will be provided by the Health Unit
  • Physical distancing rules at work mean employees should not be in close contact with each other. If, however, an employee is identified as being a close contact of a co-worker who is confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19, the person should immediately take Ontario’s online COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to see what further care is needed or call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 The employee may also be contacted by the Health Unit with further directions on what to do, including self-isolating or self-monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Employers are strongly urged to support the COVID-19 instructions your employees have received from any health care provider. This protects the health of your workers and customers
  • Encourage everyone at work to continue following physical distancing rules (staying 2 metres or 6 feet apart from others) and regularly wash hands with soap and water
  • Continue to frequently clean and disinfect commonly touched or shared surfaces at work, including tools, equipment and workstations.
Customers/Clients
  • Follow direction from the Health Unit about any extra precautions that are needed to reduce the risk of illness. These directives can include: getting employees/staff who were in close contact with the customer/client to self-isolate or self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, increasing cleaning and disinfecting at your workplace, and other measures
  • Continue to keep employees and customers safe:
    • Follow provincial rules that specify how your business/workplace can operate (for example, only offer curbside pickup, limit number of people in store, etc.).
    • Ensure a 2-metre (6-foot) distance is kept between people.
    • Reduce overcrowding.
    • Increase your online or phone services
    • Offer curb-side delivery
    • Make hand sanitizer available for customers at entry and exit points.

Information/Resources for Specific Businesses to Reopen

Visit the Ontario government website for a full list of sector-specific guidelines. You can also go to these Ontario health and safety associations for more COVID-19 health and safety advice tailored to your business: 

Workplace Safety and Prevention Services 
  • Serves: Agriculture, manufacturing, and service sectors 
  • Contact: Toll-free 1-877-494-9777 
  • On Twitter @WSPS_News 
Public Services Health and Safety Association 
  • Serves: Hospitals, nursing and retirement homes, residential and community care, universities and colleges, school boards, libraries and museums, municipalities, provincial government and agencies, police, fire and paramedics and First Nations. 
  • Contact: Toll-free: 1-877-250-7444  
  • On Twitter @PSHSAca 
Workplace Safety North
  • Serves (province wide): Forestry, mining, smelters, refineries, paper, printing and converting. 
  • Contact: Toll-free 1-888-730-7821 
  • On Twitter @WSN_News 
Infrastructure Health and Safety Association
  • Serves: Construction, electrical and utilities, aggregates, natural gas, ready-mix concrete and transportation. 
  • Contact: Toll-free 1-800-263-5024 
  • On Twitter @IHSAnews 
Personal Protective Equipment
  • Ensure employees have the protection they need to do their jobs. The provincial government has created a new website to help businesses find Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suppliers. Click here for a directory of PPE suppliers.

Reporting Workplace Health and Safety Concerns

File a complaint if you believe conditions in a workplace are unsafe, or if you or someone else is experiencing  harassment or violence on the job. Before reporting a situation, you can: 

  • Discuss your concerns with your supervisor or employer 
  • Consult your Joint Health and Safety Committee member or Health and Safety representative (if there is one) 

If the situation continues after trying to raise your concerns, you can file a complaint with the Ontario Health and Safety Contact Centre


Health Unit Support for Workplaces
  • Search this website for current information and resources about important public health measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including videos and printable resources 
  • For specific COVID-19 related questions and concerns, contact the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020 or info@hkpr.on.ca 
  • Call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5006, if you have concerns involving any of the following:   
    • Child Care Facilities 
    • Recreational Camps 
    • Personal Services Settings (including mobile and home-based settings) 
    • Tanning Salons 
    • Facilities Providing Indoor Recreational Programs Including Indoor Public Pools and Whirlpools 
    • Food Premises, including restaurants 
    • Theatres and Cinemas (including drive-ins) 
    • Trailer Parks 
    • Schools (Public and Private) 

Related Articles
Employee Health and Safety During COVID-19
Taking precautions like handwashing, coughing in your sleeve and practising physical distancing are essential during the current COVID-19 situation. But even doing that can make you feel worried about your health and safety if you’re working during COVID 19. Read on to learn more about your rights during the pandemic: ...
Read More
Hand Hygiene/Respiratory Etiquette at Work
Protecting yourself, your staff and customers at work is essential to slow the spread of COVID-19. By doing so, you help to protect those most at risk from the virus: Provide hand sanitizer and tissues at all entrances and work stations Encourage employees to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly ...
Read More
Handmade patterned and cat patterned fabric face masks for virus contagion protection - stock photo
Face masks have become the new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important to know when and how to wear a mask properly. Medical masks (like surgical and N-95): close up White protective hygenic mask isolated backgrounds for doctors and patient from virus biological infection and PM2.5 dust, pandemic news ...
Read More
Image of a retail working standing with his arms folded in the middle of an isle of a large hardware store
With many workplaces reopening, it's essential to keep your space from others to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Here's what to do to follow physical distancing rules at work: Staff and customers MUST maintain a distance of two meters (six feet) wherever possible. Offer alternatives to customers such as delivery ...
Read More
Provincial and Federal Benefits and Income Supports
On this page:Getting HelpFederal Support ProgramsProvincial Support ProgramsLocal Support ProgramsAdditional Resources Getting Help Worried about your job, income or housing due to COVID-19? Do you own a business or employ staff in an operation affected by COVID-19? All levels of governments are taking steps to support and protect people and ...
Read More

Follow us for COVID-19 Updates

You can find and follow updates on COVID-19 in your local community via the following HKPR resources:

[jetpack_subscription_form title=”” subscribe_text=”Subscribe by email to receive updates” subscribe_button=”Subscribe”]

If you have questions about COVID-19, you can contact the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 x5020 or email at info@hkpr.on.ca

Buyer Beware: Garage Sales and Second-Hand Shopping During COVID-19

Does spring cleaning have you thinking about garage sales and getting rid of unwanted items? Think again.  

Garage/Yard Sales

The Health Unit strongly discourages you from organizing or attending garage sales and yard sales at this time due to COVID-19. Organizing these sales can increase your exposure to COVID-19 and lead to the spread of the virus in the community. Here’s why: 

  • Unlike in a store where health and safety measures are in place to protect staff and customers from COVID-19, a private sale does not need to take these precautions 
  • COVID-19 is spread through close contact with people. At garage sales, keeping a two-metre (six-foot) physical distance from others is difficult given that cash transactions are often required and the number of people who stop at the sale can grow unexpectedly.  
  • Many times, garage sale enthusiasts also visit multiple sale locations in the same day increasing the risk that COVID-19 can be spread 
  • The COVID-19 virus can survive on different surfaces for varying lengths of time. This means if someone touches or picks up items at a sale, they could be exposing themselves to illness  
  • While the Province’s COVID-19 emergency directives do not prohibit garage sales and yard sales, they do ban public gatherings of people. As of June 12, social gatherings of no more than 10 people are allowed.
  • While no municipal restrictions on garage sales are in place in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes, some Ontario municipalities have approved bylaws to ban garage and yard sales entirely during the pandemic due to public health concerns. 

For all these reasons, do not hold garage sales or yard sales until further notice. Doing so will protect the health of you, your loved ones and the community.  

Second-Hand Items

Some online buy-and-sell groups have decided not to operate during COVID-19. For now, the Health Unit is also advising you to think twice about buying and selling second-hand items online. If you must, limit purchases to only essential items. 

Here are some more tips if you plan to buy second-hand essential items online during COVID-19: 

  • If you, or someone in your home has any symptoms of COVID-19 do not buy or sell any items.  Stay home and self isolate 
  • Stick to community-based online groups for buying and selling. Use groups or apps where it’s easier to confirm that people are who they say they are (such as linked to a personal profile of a social media account).  If in doubt, don’t engage 
  • If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for scams.  
  • Buy and sell with people that live in your community.  Avoid travel. 
  • Don’t provide your home address or visit anyone you do not know. If you do know the person, arrange for a curbside pickup or drop off. Never enter another person’s house or allow anyone to enter your home. 
  • Use digital payment services rather than cash.  
  • Drop off or pick up goods during the day and in a public location.  
  • Avoid all close contact. Practise physical distancing and stay metres (6 feet) away from others at all times.  
  • After purchasing an item, thoroughly clean and disinfect it. Avoid buying items that are difficult to clean. 
  • Don’t touch your face and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling items or cash. 

NOTE: Be aware that baby walkers, infant self-feeding devices and other items are banned products in Canada. There are also common second-hand items like car seats, cribs, helmets, playpens, strollers, children’s jewellery and kids’ sleepwear that must meet certain federal regulatory requirements before they can be bought or sold in Canada.  

Additional Resources

Community Gardens and COVID-19

Community gardens arenow allowed to open during COVID-19.

The Health Unit is offering recommendations to community gardens that operate in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes to protect the health and safety of everyone during COVID-19. Below are the minimum standards that all community gardens must have in place before opening. 

Use these standards as a starting point to begin planning and developing specific COVID-19 policies and protocols for your community garden. Be sure to communicate these plans to all garden members. You are also required to update information with the Health Unit. 

Entrance Restrictions/Requirements
  • Members of the public are not allowed into the gardens. Only garden members are allowed (NOTE: Please find a downloadable, printable ‘Closed’ sign to put up in your community garden)
  • Garden members cannot visit the garden if they show symptoms of COVID-19, are feeling sick from something they ate or drank, or have been in contact with someone with COVID-19
  • Post signs around the garden on COVID-19 symptoms, physical distancing, and handwashing. Policies and protocols relating to the coronavirus should also be put up at all entrances and throughout the garden
  • Events where large numbers of people gather such as flower festivals, children’s events, training, group builds etc. are not permitted
  • Use a ‘sign-in and sign-out system’ to track who is in the garden each day 
  • Update the list of current registered members, staff and volunteers involved in the community garden. Track those who have agreed to participate under COVID-19 policies and protocols
Physical Distancing
  • Only allow a maximum of five people to work in the community garden at any one time (For example, develop a schedule where plots are numbered, and odd/even numbered plots come on different days)
  • Maintain physical distancing when two or more gardeners are present. Keep at least two metres (six feet) apart from others
  • If people plan to wear homemade/personal masks in the garden, follow this Public Health Ontario fact sheet on how to properly wear and throw away mask.
  • Remember wearing rubber gloves out in public does not reduce the risk of COVID-19. Handwashing with soap/water or hand sanitizer and not touching your face offer more protection 
  • If gardeners choose to wear mask and rubber gloves, wash hands before putting on the mask/gloves and after taking them off
  • Masks and rubber gloves must be disposed of in a lined garbage bin only
Hand Hygiene/Handwashing
  • Provide handwashing or alcohol-based hand sanitizer (with 60 to 90% alcohol content) stations
  • Encourage all gardeners to regularly wash/sanitize hands, especially before entering and after leaving the garden  
  • Gardeners should know that if their hands are visibly soiled, they must first wash them with soap and water or wipe them before applying alcohol-based hand sanitizer
Garden Equipment and Tools – Use and Cleaning Requirements
  • Ask garden members to bring their own tools, or assign select tools and tasks to individuals or smaller groups
  • Avoid sharing garden gloves. Gardeners should take their gloves home to wash after each use 
  • Use gardening techniques that reduce the need for frequent trips to the garden (For example: use mulch to reduce the need for watering/weeding, row covers to prevent pests, etc.)
  • Create and implement procedures to clean and disinfect all shared tools before and after garden work
  • Regularly clean gardening tools with soap and water to remove organic matter. First rinse off soap with water, then disinfect. Use either a mixture of 1 Tbsp. of household (5%) bleach and 1 litre of warm water (mix a fresh batch each day) with 10 minutes contact time OR commercial Lysol or Clorox disinfectant with contact time indicated on label for disinfecting
  • Ensure regular cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, padlocks, water spigots, gates handle, railings etc.
  • When bringing home garden produce, wash any vegetables and fruit under clean running water (not soapy water) before eating 
Notifying the Health Unit

You must notify the Health Unit of your plans to operate a community garden this coming growing season. Contact the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5006, or inspections@hkpr.on.ca to provide the following information:

  • Name and location of your community garden
  • Whether there are plans to open the community garden this year
  • Confirmation that you have received the Health Unit’s Checklist for Community Gardens and the Ontario’s Ministry of Health’s guidance document for operating a community garden 
  • Agreement that you will follow these directions open your garden  
Additional Resources

Farmers’ Markets and COVID-19


For Farmers/Vendors

During COVID-19, farmers who sell locally-grown and sourced foods in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes must keep the health and safety of the community top of mind.  

During this emergency, the Health Unit encourages local farmers’ markets to consider selling goods online. This is the best approach to use at this time. There are a number of e-commerce options to consider, including REKO Canada (a Finnish trade and fair consumption model used locally) and Open Food Network (an online partnership linked to the Farmers’ Markets Ontario). 

If you plan to organize a farmers’ market this season, you must first submit a detailed plan to the Health Unit. Public Health Inspectors will review and approve all submissions before any market can open or operate. Proposals must include details on how the market will maintain physical distancing, ensure proper handwashing, and follow appropriate cleaning/protocols. 

Criteria for E-Commerce/E-Market Proposals 

If your farmers’ market uses online payment options and lets customers drive or walk through to pick-up pre-ordered and prepaid food, you must include the following details in your proposal:    

  1. Confirmation that the landlord/property owner approves of the use for farmers’ market (Note: During COVID-19, many local municipalities are not allowing markets to set up on their property) 
  2. A written plan showing traffic circulation 
  3. A delivery plan based on the number of orders and drive-up customers. Consider staggering pick-up times based on a person’s last name (For example: People with last names starting with A-E can pick up from 9-9:30am, F-J from 9:30-10am, etc.)  
  4. Guidelines on how to ensure customers stay in their vehicles when picking up food 
  5. Plans to ensure customers walking to pick up orders maintain physical distance with vendors and other customers  
  6. Similar plans to ensure vendors/ volunteers maintain physical distancing 
  7. Locations where vendors/volunteers can access handwashing/alcohol-based hand sanitizing facilities  
  8. Written confirmation from vendors that they will not handle food or take part in the market if they are sick. Vendors will self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms 
  9. Types of products and how often they’re used to clean and disinfect surfaces where food orders are placed/organized (For example, after each order use household cleaners or diluted bleach solution of 1-part bleach to 9 parts water) 
  10. Ways that food products will be packaged so they are not loose 
  11. Process to ensure food orders are prepackaged in new, single-use boxes/bags and labelled with customer names or order numbers 
  12. Plans to ensure all refrigerated and frozen products are maintained at proper temperatures 
  13. A pledge to keep a list of vendors and all food products that each sell 
  14. Confirmation from each vendor that the food is obtained from an approved source:  
  • Meats ONLY come from an approved slaughterhouse and processed at approved facilities  
  • Dairy products ONLY made from pasteurized milk 
  • Perishable food requiring refrigeration during transport and distribution is maintained out of the danger zone (refrigerated) 

For questions or to submit your farmers’ market proposal, email the Health Unit at inspections@hkpr.on.ca. You can also call 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5006. 

A Public Health Inspector will review the proposal and respond to you. An inspection may also be needed to confirm the market is operating as outlined in the proposal. 

Additional Resources: 


For Shoppers/Customers
  • Follow the directions/guidance of food market organizers, especially if picking up food items in a ‘drive-through’ style market setting 
  • If picking up food items on foot, practise physical distancing by staying two metres (six feet) from other customers and vendors  
  • Minimize time at the market. Prepare a list for efficient shopping/pick up 
  • If possible, use alcohol-based sanitizer after pickup at each vendor 
  • Avoid touching your face 
  • Wearing a homemade (cloth) mask is optional. Be aware that these masks are not medical devices and are not proven to protect the person wearing them from getting COVID-19. 
  • After returning home, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds  
  • As always, wash produce with running water before eating or preparing food. And remember… there is no evidence that food or food packaging can spread COVID-19!  

Rural Communities and COVID-19

Please give careful consideration to visiting your cottage or seasonal resident during COVID-19. Only come if you need to, but remember it’s not business as usual during the pandemic.

You must continue to take precautions against COVID-19, including practising physical distancing and keep to small groups. You are also strongly encouraged to take the supplies needed with you for the time you spend at the cottage or seasonal residence. Be aware that some services in cottage country may also be closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Points to Consider 
  • Provincial and local states of emergency are in place, advising people to stay home and limit travel to only essential trips for groceries and medication 
  • Rural communities have limited health care resources that are already tied up dealing with COVID-19 challenges 
  • Smaller hospitals have few or no intensive care beds, as well as limited number of in-patient beds. This means patients with more serious health problems may need to be transported to larger centres at least an hour away 
  • Rural areas have a small pool of local doctors, nurses and other health care providers 
  • Many year-round residents of cottage country are older adults, who are more at risk of COVID-19 and require the limited resources available in their community 
  • By visiting the cottage or seasonal residence, you could unintentionally spread the virus into the community – putting people who live and work there at greater risk  
By Staying Home, You Will:  
  • Ease pressure on already stretched health care providers in smaller communities 
  • Have access to greater health care resources in your home community if you get sick 
If You Visit Your Cottage/Seasonal Residence: 
  • Buy provisions in your home community before you leave so you don’t have to make stops along the way and can stay put once you arrive 
  • Continue to practise physical distancing. Do NOT use the cottage as a gathering place for multiple or extended families 
  • Develop an exit plan with immediate family if you develop any sign of illness
  • Stay as much as possible to your cottage or seasonal residence for the time you are visiting

 

Seeking Medical Care For Non-COVID-19 Health Problems

Many regular health care services and non-emergency medical procedures have been on hold due to COVID-19. Recently, the Province announced plans to resume some services and procedures — albeit with strict protective measures put in place. At the same time, many hospitals report a significant drop in the number of patients visiting the emergency room for non-COVID-19 health problems.  

While staying home and practising physical distancing is important, it doesn’t mean you should avoid seeking medical care for other health conditions. You can put yourself at risk by delaying needed medical care for untreated injuries and illnesses.   

Hospitals have precautions in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 for outpatients and are still providing health care services not related to COVID-19. So seek medical care if you need it!

What to Do: 
  • Check with your local hospital to see some of the COVID-19 precautions in place. This can include: screening and limiting visitors, providing patients/visitors with face masks, and reducing access to some parts of the hospital:  
  • Northumberland Hills Hospital 
  • Ross Memorial Hospital 
  • Campbellford Memorial Hospital 
  • Haliburton Highlands Health Services 
  • Don’t put off care! If you’re unsure about whether to seek medical assistance: 
  • Call your family doctor or Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 for guidance.  
  • In an emergency, call 9-1-1. Inform first responders if you have any potential symptoms of COVID-19, such as a cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, runny nose, congestion, fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.  

Alcohol Use and COVID-19

COVID-19 has changed day-to-day routines, including how and when you drink alcohol. With alcohol sales increasing across Canada during the pandemic, experts worry stress and the isolation of physical distancing and working from home will lead to more people drinking alcohol more often. This is a concern even for people who only drink once and awhile. . 

Alcohol is a leading cause of disease, disability and premature death in Canada. In the short-term, alcohol can lead to more injuries. Over the long-term, drinking too much alcohol can increase the risk of cancer, liver disease, heart disease, stroke, mental illness and alcohol dependence.  

Reduce Your Risk 

Follow Canada’s Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines

  • 10 drinks a week for women, with no more than two drinks a day most days  
  • 15 drinks a week for men, with no more than three drinks a day most days.  
  • Plan non-drinking days every week to avoid developing a habit 

Do not drink when you: 

  • Drive a vehicle or use machinery and tools 
  • Take medicine or other drugs that interact with alcohol 
  • Do any kind of dangerous physical activity 
  • Live with mental or physical health problems 
  • Have an alcohol dependency 
  • Are expecting or trying to get pregnant 
  • Look after the safety (and well-being?) of others 
  • Make important decisions 
Additional Resources  

Smoking and COVID-19

The current COVID-19 situation is causing lots of stress and anxiety for people. It may be triggering you to smoke more often, restart your tobacco habit or put off quitting entirely.   

This is understandable, but not the best approach. Even in these difficult times, many programs and supports are still available to help you quit smoking. And while there are always health benefits to going tobacco-free, doing so during COVID-19 may be even more important to your well-being!  

Smokers at Higher Risk 

According to groups like the World Health Organization and Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, smokers may be more vulnerable to COVID-19 because: 

  • The act of smoking means a smoker’s fingers (or contaminated cigarette) come in contact with the lips. This increases the risk of the virus being spread from hand-to-mouth. 
  • Smokers may already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity which increases the risk of serious respiratory illness like COVID-19. 
  • Cigarettes, vaping devices, water pipes and related smoking products (including mouth pieces) are often shared with others. This also leads to a higher risk of illness.  
Quit-Smoking Supports 

Even in the age of physical distancing and self-isolating, you’re not alone in trying to go tobacco-free. Check out these resources on how to quit for good: 

Food Access and Community Supports During COVID-19

Grocery Stores 

Many local grocery stores offer: 

  • Online or phone orders for contactless pick-up or delivery 
  • Special shopping hours for seniors and others at higher risk of COVID-19. 

You’re encouraged to contact your local store to determine hours, supports and services available to make shopping safer and convenient during COVID-19. 


Food Banks and Meal Options

Contact the food banks/community groups directly for more information:  

Northumberland County
  • Alderville Community Food Bank – Call: 905-352-2140 
  • Bewdley Community Works, More than a Food Bank – Call in advance: 905-797-2535 ext. 22, leave message 
  • Brighton Fare Share Food Bank – Call 613-242-4054 or 613-475-0691 
  • Campbellford Fare Share Food Bank – Call: 705 653-1930 
  • Cobourg Northumberland Fare Share Food Bank – Call 905-372-5308 
  • Cobourg Salvation Army Emergency Food Assistance – Contact905-373-9440 or text 905-375-7862 (*Note: Home Food Box Delivery Program available for residents of Cobourg, Port Hope and beyond who needs food and cannot physically come to the food bank) 
  • Cobourg Society of St. Vincent de Paul – Call: 905-373-9391  
  • Colborne Blessing Cupboard, Prospect Community Church – Call: 905-355-1578 or 905-207-0059 
  • Port Hope Salvation Army Community and Family Services – Contact 905-885-2323 or saporthope@gmail.com or text: 289-251-5758 (*By appointment only) 
  • Grafton Society of St. Vincent de Paul – Call: 905-377-3263 
  • Hastings and Roseneath Ministerial Food Bank, Hastings Trinity United Church – Call: 705-696-2780 or 705-696-1105 
  • Port Hope Northumberland Fare Share Food Bank, Port Hope United Church – Call: 905-885-6674 
  • Port Hope Community Health Centre of Northumberland – Food Cupboard – Call: 905-885-2626, ext. 212 (*By appointment only) 
  • Port Hope Society of St. Vincent de Paul – Call: 905-373-2940  
  • Warkworth 7 Hills Community Pantry, St. Paul’s United Church – Call: 705-924-2077 
Kawartha Lakes
  • Bethany/ Pontypool Daily Food Bank – Call: 705-277-2204 
  • Bobcaygeon Helps Food Bank – Contact: 705-928-8104 or 705-341-1184 (Lion’s Centre) or bobcaygeonfoodbank@gmail.com  
  • Coboconk Food Bank – Call: 705-344-4807 
  • Dunsford Community Food Bank – Call: 705-957-0989 
  • Fenelon Falls Salvation Army – Contact: 705-887-1408 or fenfallssalarmy@bellnet.ca 
  • Fowlers Corners and District Lions Club – Contact: 705-743-0325 or fcdlionsclub@gmail.com (*Note: serves Lindsay and Omemee) 
  • Frost Student Association (FSA) Food Bank – Call: 705-324-9144 ext. 3047 
  • Janetville Food Bank – Call: 705-324-4006 
  • Kawartha Lakes Centre of Hope – Contact: 705-324-7613 or lakeskawartha0@gmail.com   
  • Kawartha Lakes Food Source – Call: 705-324-0707 
  • Kinmount and area Food Bank – Contact: 705-455-3060 or kinmountfoodbank@gmail.com 
  • Lindsay Community Food Market – Contact: 705-212-9984 or lindsaycommunityfoodmarket@gmail.com 
  • Lindsay Salvation Army – Call: 705-878-5331, ext. 2 
  • Little Britain/ Mariposa Food Bank – Call: 705-340-8510  
  • Minden Food Bank – Contact: 705-286-6838 or 705-286-2990 or mindencommunityfoodbank@bellnet.ca (*Note: also serves Kinmount, Bobcaygeon and Norland 
  • Omemee Food Bank – Call: 705-799-6847  
  • Woodville Eldon Food Bank – Call: 705-879-6029 

Kawatha Lakes Meal Options 

Haliburton County
  • Cardiff Food Bank – Call: 613-334-0803 or 613-339-2704 
  • Haliburton 4Cs Food Bank – Call: 705-457-3010 
  • Highlands East Food Hub – Call: 705-448-9711 or 705-935-1956 
  • Kinmount Food Bank – Call: 705-455-3060 
  • Minden Community Food Centre – Call: 705-286-6838 
  • SIRCH Community Services – Contact: 705-457-1742 or 1-888-405-5555 or info@sirch.on.ca (*Free frozen meal pick-ups available on weekends) 

Errands Pickups and Companion Check-in Services 
Northumberland County 

For Errands:  

For Social Connection Companion Check-in: 

Kawartha Lakes 

For Errands:  

For Social Connection Companion Check-in: 

  • Community Care City of Kawartha Lakes – Offers ‘reassurance calls’ program for seniors and those with developmental challenges. Calls: 705-324-7323 or -800-461-0327, ext. 231 
  • EarlyON Centres Kawartha Lakes – Offers friendly check-in calls. To register, contact: 705-324-7900 or admin@oeyc.ca. On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am to noon, speak to a staff person about any questions/concerns about children ages 0-6 years. You can also follow: www.facebook.com/oeyc.haliburtonvictoriabrock  
Haliburton County 

For Errands and Social Companion Check-in:  

Home Gardening and COVID-19

Want to learn a new hobby while practising physical distancing? Home gardening is great for keeping distance and a rewarding pastime for you to do while at home during COVID-19. 

There are many benefits to gardening. You can:  

  • Get outside and be active   
  • Enjoy a fun, family-friendly activity 
  • Find a sense of purpose 
  • Grow your own fresh, nutritious food meaning fewer trips to the store 
  • Reduce consumer demand on food resources  
  • Support your mental health during an uncertain time. 

Like any new hobby or project, knowing where to start can be a challenge. But by giving it a try, you may find a life-long hobby that benefits both mind and body and helps you be more self-sufficient.  

How to Start: 

  • Research how to start a garden. This Better Homes and Gardens article on Vegetable Gardening for Beginners offers pointers.   
  • Re-purpose yogurt cups, milk cartons or paper cups as containers to start your seeds 
  • Connect with your local nursery or garden centre for advice and options, including online ordering and curbside pickup 
  • Join an online gardening group to connect with others 
  • Choose seeds or transplants that are easy to grow and fast to harvest (like carrots, green beans, leafy greens, radishes, cucumbers, summer squash, and herbs) 
  • Plant flowers in or around your garden, including ones that benefit bees and other pollinators 
  • If you have limited space around your home, try container gardening. This Quick Guide to Container Gardening from Gardening Know How can help you  get started 
  • Keep organics like shredded leaves and grass clippings and use as mulch to help limit weed growth in your garden.  

To Consider:

Additional Resources 

Preventing Injuries During COVID-19

Home is the best place to be during COVID-19, especially with directives to self-isolate, practise physical distancing and limit non-essential trips. 

With most injuries to young children already occurring at home, the risk can increase for everyone due to the change in daily routine during COVID-19. Consider: 

  • Overwhelmed parents/caregivers juggling work-at-home and child-care duties may not see the risks around them.  
  • Children who are curious, bored and full of energy may be tempted to try new and unsafe activities.  
  • Homeowners anxious to use down time to do renovations may take on projects without proper tools or know-how.  

Add substances like alcohol or marijuana use to the mix, and there’s a recipe for disaster – and injury!  

The key to avoiding injuries is prediction and prevention. Slow down, consider the risks and make a plan. Could you temporarily move your home office to the backyard so the kids can play and be supervised?  Instead of rushing into it into yourself, could you put off doing a home-reno project until after the pandemic is over so you can hire an expert or order the proper tools?   

Additional Resources 

Despite your best efforts, injuries can still happen and may require medical treatment. Depending on the seriousness of the injury, call your family doctor, go to the hospital ER or call 9-1-1. If you are self-isolating or have COVID-19 symptoms, please let responders know in advance. 

Mask Use during COVID-19

Face masks have become the new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important to know when and how to wear a mask properly.

Medical masks (like surgical and N-95):
close up White protective hygenic mask isolated backgrounds for doctors and patient from virus biological infection and PM2.5 dust, pandemic news

These must be kept for health care providers and for those providing direct care for someone with COVID-19.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and need to seek medical care, wear a mask. Your health provider may also recommend you wear a mask while you’re seeking or waiting for care. The mask acts as a barrier and helps stop the tiny droplets from spreading around you when you cough or sneeze.

Masks MUST be put on, taken off and thrown out properly. If you need to wear a mask, be sure to clean your hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. When wearing a mask, follow this Public Health Ontario fact sheet  on how to properly wear and throw away one.


Homemade (Cloth) Masks:

Non-medical masks (like homemade cloth masks and facial coverings) are NOT medical devices, are unregulated and are NOT proven to protect the person wearing them from getting COVID-19. The best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 remains washing your hands with soap and water, staying home and avoiding close contact with others outside your household.

If worn properly, non-medical masks can help to cover your mouth and nose to prevent your respiratory droplets from contaminating other people or landing on common surfaces. However, wearing cloth masks can also give you a false sense of security and may in fact cause you to touch your face more often when adjusting the mask. 

Despite this, some people may choose to wear a mask when leaving their homes for essential trips (grocery store, pharmacy). The Ontario government is also recommending people use face coverings to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when physical distancing and keeping two metres’ distance from others may be challenging. This includes wearing face coverings on public transit, smaller grocery stores/pharmacies, or when receiving essential services. The Public Health Agency of Canada advises that putting on a homemade mask can possibly help protect others around you if you’re ill with COVID-19 and do not yet know it.

It’s good to wear a homemade mask or facial covering if it makes you feel safer and stops you from touching your face and mouth. But remember: do not touch your face with unwashed hands. You need to also continue practising physical distancing. 

Homemade masks or facial coverings should not be worn/put on by:

  • Children under age 2
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing
  • Someone who is unconscious, incapacitated or unable to remove the mask without help. 
How to Properly Use a Homemade Mask/Face Covering:  
  • Wash your hands immediately before putting it on and immediately after taking it off (use good hand hygiene while wearing it too)
  • Masks should fit snugly, but comfortably against your face (non-gaping) allowing you to breathe without restriction. Masks should be secured with ties or ear loops and have multiple fabric layers
  • Do not share cloth masks with others
  • Remember not to touch or rub your eyes while wearing it
  • Avoid moving, adjusting or touching your mask while using it, as it could become contaminated on the outside. 
  • Change face coverings if they get slightly wet or dirty
  • Wash the cloth mask after each use as it can get damp or dirty:
    • Put it directly into the washing machine or a bag that can be emptied into the washing machine and then disposed of
    • Cloth masks can be laundered with other items using a hot cycle, and then dried thoroughly.
    • Wash your hands with soap and water after putting the mask into the laundry.
  • Homemade masks that cannot be washed should be thrown out in a properly lined garbage bin as soon as they get damp, dirty or crumpled. Do not throw used masks on the ground or in a shopping cart. Immediately after wash your hands with soap and water.

Summary Do’s and Don’ts for Using Homemade Masks/Face Coverings

Do:

  • Wash your hands immediately before putting on and immediately after taking off a face covering or face mask
  • Practise good hand hygiene while you are wearing the face covering
  • Make sure the face covering fits well around your nose and mouth
  • Avoid moving the mask around or adjusting it often
  • Avoid touching the covering while using it
  • Change the face covering or face mask when it gets slightly wet or dirty

Do Not:

  • Share face coverings or face masks with others
  • Place on children under the age of two years or on anyone unable to remove without assistance or who has trouble breathing
  • Use plastic or other non-breathable materials as a face covering or face mask

Sharing Custody of Children During COVID-19

Co-parenting – or sharing custody of children with your former partner – can be a challenge at the best of times, let alone during COVID-19. Worries about increased exposure risk to the virus in one home or whether proper precautions are being taken by your former partner can weigh on your mind. 

A recent Ontario Superior Court decision offers some guidance on how to approach shared custody during a pandemic. According to the court: 

  • Existing parenting arrangements and schedules should continue with modifications to ensure COVID-19 precautions, such as physical distancing, are being followed
  • In some cases, parents may have to give up their time with a child if they have to self-isolate because they’ve become ill, they’ve travelled abroad, or they’ve been exposed to someone with the illness
  • There is zero tolerance in the eyes of the court for any parent who recklessly exposes a child (or members of the child’s household) to any COVID-19 risk.
  • Due to COVID-19, changes may need to be made to transportation, exchange locations, or any terms of supervision

For the sake of the child, all parties must find ways to maintain important parental relationships. But above all, everyone needs to find ways to do it safely. 

Temporary Foreign Workers and COVID-19

Every growing season, many local farmers and agricultural producers turn to temporary foreign workers for help in planting and harvesting food. During COVID-19, this situation is made more difficult. 

The local Health Unit is working closely with area farmers to ensure these temporary (or migrant) workers can work safely during COVID-19. Our aim is to protect the health of workers and the well-being of the entire community by preventing the spread of the virus. This ensures area farms operate safely and by the rules, while allowing our local communities to stay well-fed and have access to quality, locally-produced food items.

During COVID-19, the Health Unit follows provincial directives and federal guidelines for temporary foreign workers. Throughout the growing season, our Public Health Inspectors work directly with local farmers and migrant workers to ensure these guidelines are followed to the letter of the law. Some of the provisions include: 

  • Regular housing/accommodation inspections
  • Getting temporary workers to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in Canada
  • Doing ongoing screening of workers for COVID-19 symptoms and putting in place provisions that they fully isolate themselves from others if they get sick
  • Making sure farmers do their part to protect the health of workers. This means: providing appropriate hygiene facilities/supplies, promoting physical distancing measures (such as making sure worker accommodations allow for at least 2-metre distance), and regular cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces.  

For more information on Health Unit efforts, call 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5006.

Caring for Your Pet During COVID-19

Pets can support your happiness and well-being, especially in stressful times like COVID-19. If you are feeling well and not self-isolating due to COVID-19, walking your dog or spending time with your pet can keep you both healthy. Just remember to follow physical distancing rules when out in public by staying at least two-metres apart from others. 

Veterinary Care During COVID-19  

The Province is letting all veterinary services to resume on an appointment basis. It’s best to call your vet first to see what services are available before you visit. Do not see your vet if you are currently ill.  

Don’t have a vet and require care for your animal? Use the CVO’s Find a Veterinarian Search Tool.  

Other Animal Services

As of May 19, the Province is also allowing services for animals and pets to resume. This includes pet care services like grooming, pet sitting, and pet training services. You are encouraged to call your pet care provider first for specific information. Please be sure to take precautions by practising physical distancing and other preventive measures as well.

Effective May 16, 2020, businesses that board animals (e.g., stables) can allow allow boarders to visit, care for, or ride their animal.

Can Pets Get or Spread COVID-19?  

According to the World Organisation for Animal Healththere is no evidence that pets can spread COVID-19 in any way to people. However, there have been limited reports of animals becoming infected with COVID-19. 

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency recommends individuals with COVID-19 symptoms, or those self-isolating due to contact with a COVID-19 case, should take similar precautions around animals as they would around people. These steps include:  

  • Avoiding close contact with animals during your illness. Do not snuggle, kiss or let them lick you 
  • Practising good handwashing and avoiding coughing and sneezing on your animals 
  • Not visiting farms or coming in contact with livestock 
  • If possible, getting other members of your household to care for your animals. If this is not possible, be sure to: 
  • Always wash your hands before and after touching animals, their food and supplies 
  • Limit your animal’s contact with other people and animals outside your home until your illness clears up 

Additional Resources 

How to Care for Pets and Other Animals – Public Health Ontario  

Ontario Veterinary Medical Association 

Canadian Veterinary Medical Association  

« Go back