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This Version Posted: April 14, 2021

No matter where and how you are working, it’s important to follow key preventive measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Current Reopening Situation

On this page:

Key messages:
  • Screen yourself for COVID-19 before going into work. Use the Ontario Ministry of Health’s online Screening Tool for Employees.
  • Stay home if you are sick or have been directed to self isolate by the Health Unit.
  • Plan for physical distancing whenever and wherever possible. Avoid sharing work stations, tools or equipment. If you have to share items, clean and disinfect all commonly touched surfaces before you touch them. Allow for lots of space between you and other people, especially in lunch rooms and other common areas. Stay at least 2 metres (6 feet) apart whenever possible. 
  • If staff/workers are performing tasks indoors that require them to be less than 2 metres from an unmasked or improperly masked individual without a barrier (e.g. Plexiglass, partition, wall), appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must be worn, including proper protection for eyes, nose and mouth. At a minimum, this would include a medical mask and eye protection (NOTE: This is also a requirement of the Ministry of Labour). Please refer to this COVID-19 Eye Protection guidance resource for more information.
  • Use appropriate PPE when needed.
  • Ontario is now requiring that non-medical masks or face coverings be worn inside public places. Employees who work with the public are covered by this. Learn more on how to ensure a mask fits properly and when you can temporarily remove a mask.
  • Practice good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.  Wash your hands, or use hand sanitizer when you can’t wash. 
  • Clean and disinfect your work stations, and all commonly-touched surfaces often.
  • If you are carpooling to work with another person, ensure physical distancing on the drive. Stick to two people per vehicle. The second person should sit in the back, passenger-side seat to ensure proper distance from the driver. Masks should be worn on the trip. The only exception to this two-person limit is if travelling in the same vehicle with people from your own household.
  • Review these workplace video resources for more information. 
  • Communicate and share credible and evidenced based information with coworkers and customers. 
  • Take care of your mental health.

Workplace health and safety resources:

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

You have a right to a safe workplace – now more than ever during COVID-19. Learn about your rights during COVID-19 and discover resources/supports that can help reduce the risk of illness for you and others in your workplace.

Latest Updates

What if There is a Case of COVID-19 in My Workplace?
  • Before going into work, you are encouraged to screen yourself for COVID-19 symptoms. Follow the direction provided.
  • 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 public health.
  • 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. They can also 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.
  • 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can an employee come to work if someone in their household has developed symptoms of COVID-19?

It is recommended that the symptomatic household member be tested for COVID-19 and self-isolate while awaiting test results.

The employee must also quarantine until the household member receives test results, unless alternative direction has been provided by public health.

What should I do if an employee at my workplace develops symptoms of COVID-19? Should I send everyone else home? Should I close?

The employee with symptoms should be isolated from others, sent home immediately and advised to seek medical assessment and testing for their symptoms. Other employees can continue to work and should self-monitor for symptoms. It is not a requirement to send all other employees home and/or close unless advised by public health.

If one of my employees tells me that someone in their household travels regularly outside of Canada for work (e.g. a truck driver), can my employee still come to work?

Yes. Household members are not required to quarantine or self-isolate in this case but should self-monitor for symptoms.

Someone in an employee’s household has been identified as a contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19. Can the employee still come to work?

The employee can go to work but should self-monitor for symptoms. If the household member develops COVID-19 symptoms, the employee is required to quarantine until the symptomatic individual receives a COVID-19 test result or is provided an alternative diagnosis by a health care provider.

When can an employee return to work if they have been sick with COVID-19?

Public health will provide detailed direction to all positive cases and their close contacts on self-isolation requirements and return to work.

When can an employee return to the workplace if they have been sick, but do not have COVID-19?

If the individual was tested for COVID-19 and the result was negative, the recommendation is to wait for 24 hours after symptoms resolve before returning to the workplace, unless otherwise advised by public health.

How do I protect myself, my employees and my customers from COVID-19?

Remember these key public health measures:

  • Self-monitor for symptoms daily, and stay home if you are sick
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer
  • Cough/sneeze into elbow or tissue, put tissue in garbage and wah hands right away
  • Keep at least 2 metres physical distance from others
  • Wear a mask when indoors in public spaces, and anytime keeping 2m physical distance is not possible
  • Regularly clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces
  • Post signage to remind employees, customers and visitors of all of the above
  • Self-isolate if you develop symptoms

What are the new variants of coronavirus and do they pose extra risks for me at work?

Recently, new variants of the COVID-19 virus have been identified as posing possible new risks to people due to high rates of transmission, more severe illness and increased risk of reinfection. The variants include:

  • B.1.1.7 (501Y.V1) – variant first identified in the United Kingdom in late November 2020.
  • 501Y.V2 – variant first identified in South Africa at the end of December 2020.
  • P.1 – variant first detected in travelers from Brazil who arrived in Japan in January 2021.

All three variants have been identified in Ontario, with cases believed to be linked to both travel-related and community transmission. Growing evidence indicates these variants can more easily spread between people.

The arrival of these variants means everyone must take extra precautions at work, home or in the community to stop the spread.

How concerned should we be about the new variants of COVID-19 now present in Ontario?

In general, the COVID-19 variants of concern being detected in Ontario seem to be more contagious and therefore can spread among people more quickly. This means it’s extra important to continue following all the important public health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. This includes:

  • Wearing masks
  • Avoiding non-essential travel
  • Limiting trips out of your home
  • Limiting contact to only those people with whom you live
  • Practising physical distancing by staying two metres apart from others
  • Frequently washing your hands with soap and water
  • Coughing/sneezing into your sleeve
  • Following other prevention measures.

However, there is good news too. According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved or are currently in development do provide some protection against the COVID-19 variants. Various vaccine makers have also stated they are ready to reformulate their existing vaccines – or develop new ones – so they provide greater protection against the new coronavirus variants.

Health Canada is also working with vaccine manufacturers and international regulators to assess the impact of the new variants on the effectiveness of approved vaccines and treatments.

Realizing the potential health risks of these new strains, the Ontario government has also announced additional measures to stop the spread of these COVID-19 variants.

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Follow us for COVID-19 Updates

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

If you have questions about COVID-19, you can contact the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 x5020 or email at