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) 

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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:

Subscribe by email to receive updates

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

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

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:

Resources/Legislation

All levels of governments are taking steps to support and protect people affected by coronavirus. The following resources can help you understand your rights. (Information is current at the time of this posting; please check official government websites for the most recent updates):   

Ontario Human Rights Commission FAQs 
Explains your rights during COVID-19 in series of questions and answers.

Recent changes by the Ontario government are also designed to protect worker’s health during COVID-19: 

  • The newly approved Employment Standards Amendments Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020 includes: 
    • Job-protected leave to employees in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, and to those who need to be away from work to care for children at home due to school/daycare closures
    • Employees will not be required to provide a medical note. 
    • Measures are retroactive to January 25th, 2020.
  • As well, in a declared emergency, employees have the right to take an unpaid, job-protected leave if they are unable to perform job duties due to an emergency or other circumstances.  The Employment Standards Act Guide is being updated as more information becomes available.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act also:  

  • Gives workers the right to refuse work they believe is unsafe to them or co-workers. Workers who feel they are endangered by workplace violence may also refuse work.
    • Sets out a specific procedure that must be followed in any work refusal. 
    • If you have identified a health and safety issue at your workplace, contact your manager or supervisor, your Joint Health and Safety Committee representative, and/or your union representative.  
For Additional Complaints/Concerns
  • If you’re unable to resolve concerns, or want to report a workplace health and safety incident, critical injury, fatality, or work refusal, call the Health and Safety Contact Centre at the Ministry of Labour to report your issue.  You can speak to a representative at 1-877-202-0008.
  • For less urgent health and safety issues, file an online complaint now.  The Health and Safety Contact Centre will review and respond in due course. 
  • If you’ve been fired or punished for exercising your rights under the Ontario Health and Safety act, you can file a reprisal complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
Business Questions
Additional Resources:

Download and print resources below:

Image of Attention Staff AODA compliant poster – click to download
Image of Attention Staff AODA compliant poster – click to download

Attention Staff
Poster

Physical Distancing at Work

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 or pick up services. Consider partnering with a non-profit group to provide delivery options for vulnerable clients/customers who may have a hard time accessing your services. 
  • Post self-screening signage at entrances to tell customers to delay their visit 
  • Implement strategies to help eliminate customer lineups, such as extended shopping hours 
  • Stagger employee use of common break spaces 
  • Replace face-to-face meetings with tele- or video-conferencing options 
  • Postpone or cancel non-essential work travel. 
Additional Resources:

Fact Sheet – Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Physical Distancing – Public Health Ontario

Download and print resources below:

Your Work

COVID-19 has changed all parts of life, especially the way we work. As more workplaces and businesses reopenemployers and employees alike must adjust to the ‘new normal’ of staying safe and healthy on the job during this pandemic.

Now more than ever, following public health guidelines and protective measures in your workplace are vital to stop the spread of COVID-19. You and your customers/clients deserve no less!

This page provides guidance and links to resources on how to make your workplace safer during COVID-19. No matter where and how you work, make these measures part of your business!  

A coffee mug with best boss ever printed on it. - stock photo
A coffee mug with best boss ever printed on it. – stock photo

For Employers

Human resource management and recruitment business concept - stock photo
Human resource management and recruitment business concept – stock photo

For Employees

Small business owner smiling while turning the sign for the reopening of the place after the quarantine due to covid-19. Happy businesswoman standing at her restaurant or coffee shop gate with open signboard. Close up of woman"u2019s hands holding sign now we are open support local business.
Small business owner smiling while turning the sign for the reopening of the place after the quarantine due to covid-19. Happy businesswoman standing at her restaurant or coffee shop gate with open signboard. Close up of woman”u2019s hands holding sign now we are open support local business.

Reopening Your Business


Key Messages:

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) 

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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:

Subscribe by email to receive updates

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

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