Community Gardens and COVID-19

Planning to operate or take part in a community garden this growing season?

The Health Unit is offering these recommendations to those involved in community gardens 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.


On This Page:


Entrance Restrictions/Requirements
  • Members of the public are not allowed into the gardens. Only garden members are allowed. Post these printable signs in your garden as reminders:
  • Anyone attending the garden should first complete the online COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool and follow its recommendations.
  • Garden members MUST NOT visit the garden if they show symptoms of COVID-19 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 COVID-19 should also be put up at all entrances and throughout the garden
  • 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 the number of people that can maintain 2 metres at all times (to a maximum of 100 people) to work in the community garden at once. To do this, consider developing 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 masks/face coverings 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. Consider disinfecting the handles of any tools that are shared. 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 indoor 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 

There is no need to contact the Health Unit prior to opening your community garden. But if you are an organizer, you must ensure that all participants are aware of the regulatory requirements and public health measures that must be followed to stop the spread of COVID-19.


Additional Resources

Farmers’ Markets and COVID-19

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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 pandemic, farmers have more options to get their products to consumers. Besides operating the classic farmers’ market on site, local farmers can also consider selling goods online. 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. Organizers must ensure they are in compliance with the requirements of the respective regulation (depending on which colour stage of reopening the region is in) under the Reopening Ontario Act. 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. 
  2. A written plan showing traffic circulation 
  3. A delivery plan based on the number of orders and drive-up customers. 
  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. Consider using the Province’s online COVID-19 Screening Tool or use this Health Unit screening resource.
  9. Types of products and how often they’re used to clean and disinfect surfaces where food orders are placed/organized (For example, 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. Bacteria can grow in the danger zone between 4 °C and 60°C (40°F to 140°F). Keep cold foods cold at or below 4°C (40°F) and keep hot foods hot at or above 60°C (140°F).
  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 
  • Wear a non-medical mask or face covering if you want. It can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 to others. 
  • 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.

Travellers and COVID-19

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Travelling Abroad

Enhanced Travel Restrictions

Due to COVID-19 and the risk of new variants, Canadians are strongly advised to cancel or postpone any non-essential travel plans outside of the country until further notice. They should also avoid all travel on cruise ships for the time-being.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: On Feb. 12, the Federal Government announced sweeping new restrictions on international travel to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including variants of it. These measures includes COVID-19 testing and a 14-day quarantine period, and impact people arriving in Canada as follows:

  • Arriving in Canada by Land: Anyone crossing the land border for non-essential reasons will have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within the last three days. Essential workers such as truckers and emergency service providers, as well as cross border communities, will be exempt from this requirement. There will also be 16 specific points of entry where testing will be run.
  • Arriving in Canada by Air: All air travelers (with some exceptions) will have to undergo a mandatory COVID-19 test at their expense at the airport, followed by quarantine in a government-approved hotel for up to three days while awaiting their test results. All international flights can now only arrive at one of four Canadian airports: Toronto, Montreal, Calgary or Vancouver.
  • Anyone arriving by land or air in Canada will also be required to submit their travel and contact information, including a suitable quarantine plan, electronically via ArriveCAN before crossing the border or boarding a flight.

Read this Federal Government Backgrounder for Full Details on these Restrictions

The federal mandatory isolation/quarantine measure was put in place by Canadian government through an Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act. These measures apply to all travelers arriving in Canada and are aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 in Canada. The only exceptions are essential workers, including those who ensure the continue flow of goods and essential services across the border. Violating any instructions provided to you when you entered Canada could lead to up to 6 months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines.

Mandatory Quarantine

If at any time over your 14-day quarantine, you develop COVID-19 symptoms, do the following:

  • Isolate yourself from others
  • Immediately call a health care professional or public health authority and:
    • describe your symptoms and travel history
    • follow their instructions carefully

You must begin isolating for an additional 14 days from the date of your positive test result or onset of symptoms.

Mandatory Isolation

Follow any additional directions provided you by public health staff. After your mandatory quarantine/isolation period ends, continue following important public health measures like: staying home if sick, practising physical distancing, wearing masks or face coverings, and frequently washing hands with soap and water.

Additional Ontario Government Travel Measure

As of Feb. 1, 2021, the Ontario government is also making it mandatory that all international travelers arriving at Pearson Airport in Toronto get tested for COVID-19. Ontario is also exploring additional testing measures at Pearson International Airport and land border crossings in the coming weeks.


Travelling in Canada

Travelling Between Provinces
  • As of April 19, the Ontario government is imposing new travel restrictions. Travel between Ontario and the provinces of Manitoba and Quebec will be restricted, except for the purposes of such things as work, health care services, transportation and delivery of goods and services or exercising Aboriginal or treaty rights.

Apartments and Multi-Unit Dwellings

If you own or manage a multi-unit building, it’s important to protect your tenants from COVID-19. Proper screening, cleaning, physical distancing and other measures are essential to reduce the spread of illness. Here’s what you need to do:

Screening

Handwashing and Respiratory Etiquette

Cleaning and Disinfecting

  • Increase cleaning and disinfecting, especially in common areas. High-touch surfaces (like doorknobs, light switches, phones, elevator buttons, stairwells, shared washrooms and garbage facilities) should be cleaned and disinfected at least twice per day, and when visibly dirty.
  • Be careful when handling waste, and ensure you wash hands thoroughly afterwards with soap and running water. Line garbage cans with plastic bags if possible and avoid direct contact with soiled items in the garbage
  • For Shared Laundry Rooms: Both sick and healthy households need to use laundry rooms to wash dirty laundry.  Clean and disinfect the machine controls frequently.  You may also need to put up limits to the number of people in the laundry room at a time, to ensure physical distancing. Put up this poster for tips on using shared laundry facilities.

Mask Use

Physical Distancing

  • Promote physical distancing in your building. Urge people to keep 2 metres (6 feet) apart – roughly the length of a hockey stick. Put up this poster in all common areas to send a clear message.
  • Put in place measures at your building to reinforce physical distancing. Stagger times to use laundry facilities, limit the number of people gathering in shared spaces, and move furnishings like chairs further apart to create more space.  
  • Limit capacity on elevators to ensure physical distancing. Post a sign indicating no more than two or three people should use the elevator at once. 

What to do If Tenants/Residents Show COVID-19 Symptoms

  • Individuals in a private unit who show COVID-19 symptoms MUST self-isolate for the required period and not leave home, unless they need medical care. If possible, check in with them by phone, email or text. Offer to get food/supplies and leave items at their doorway, ensuring no close contact.
  • If someone with COVID-19 symptoms lives in a shared space, support them to safely self-isolate by ensuring they stay in a separate room, use a separate washroom (if possible) and keep a 2 metre distance from others. If this isn’t possible, review this link 
  • If someone experiences severe COVID-19 symptoms, seek immediate medical care. 
  • Be a good neighbour. Check in on people who may need assistance with getting groceries if they are self isolating. This reduces the need for them to leave their apartment.

Holidays, Family Gatherings and Celebrations

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Key Message: Stay Safe, Stay Home, Limit Gatherings

NOTE: As of 12:01 am on Thursday, April 8, a provincial State of Emergency and Stay-at-Home Order is in place in Ontario to stop the spread of COVID-19. All of Ontario, including Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes, is covered by these measures. See how these measures affect you.

The Stay-at-Home Order means you must only leave your home for essentials (like groceries, medical appointments, COVID-19 vaccinations). All indoor and outdoor organized social gatherings and organized public events are not allowed, except with members of the same household (the people you live with). Travel between different parts of Ontario is also discouraged.

Staying home remains the best way to protect yourself and others. COVID-19 is still a health risk, and with coronavirus variants now circulating locally and in Ontario, illness can more easily be spread between people.

Protect yourself and your loved ones:

  • Do not gather with anyone outside your household. During the Provincial State of Emergency, indoor and outdoor gatherings are not allowed.
  • Celebrate virtually or connect by phone with other family and friends. This is the best and safest way to mark holidays and celebrations. A return to normal will come once more COVID-19 vaccines are available, helping to better control the spread of the virus.
  • Avoid all non-essential travel, including out-of-province.

General Tips for Holidays, Celebrations and Family Gatherings
  • Stay home if sick. Use Ontario’s online COVID-19 assessment tool to help determine if you need further care.
  • Avoid non-essential trips to any other part of Ontario.
  • Do not gather indoors or outdoors with anyone outside your household. If you live alone, you can celebrate with one other household.
  • Follow food safety tips if preparing a meal for your immediate household.
  • Do NOT visit visit loved ones whom you do not live. Instead, connect virtually with family and friends. Pick up the phone or chat via social media and/or video-conferencing. Consider using these platforms to hold a virtual holiday party/celebration. If technology is not your thing, send a card or write a letter to a loved one.
  • Look after your mental health and that of your loved ones, especially people who may be alone and feel cut off from others.
  • Avoid the “3 C’s” – closed spaces, crowded places and close faces. 
  • Practise physical distancing as much as possible. Keep a 2 metre (6-foot) distance from anyone who is outside your household.
  • Wear a mask or face covering inside public places. Ensure face coverings are tightly fitted to cover the nose, mouth and chin (scarves and bandanas are insufficient). NEW: Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can’t physically distance more than two metres from others outside your household. 

Places of Worship during COVID-19

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Current Situation

Ontario has implemented new restrictions to control the surge in COVID-19 cases. For places of worship, this means that — as of 12:01 am on April 19 — reduced limits are in place for religious services, weddings and funerals

  • No more than 10 people are allowed to gather indoors or outdoors for weddings, funerals and religious services. Physical distancing must be maintained, and attendees must wear masks or face coverings.
  • Social gatherings associated with these services (such as receptions) are not allowed, except for members of the same household.
  • Virtual services are permitted — and may be the best option at this time.
  • Drive-in services, are permitted.

Protect the health and safety of your members and congregants by taking measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Read on for further information and resources, including the Health Unit’s COVID-19 Guidance for Reopening Places of Worship. You can also click here for specific Guidelines on Health and Safety for Places of Worship During COVID-19 from Workplace Safety and Prevention Services.


Use of Non-Medical Masks Face Coverings During Religious Services

Everyone must wear a mask at all times when indoors attending a place of worship. The only exceptions are anyone who:

  • Is younger than two years of age;
  • Has a medical condition that inhibits their ability to wear a mask or face covering
  • Is unable to put on or remove a mask or face covering without help from another person.
  • Needs to temporarily remove their mask or face covering while in the indoor area, as it may be necessary for the purposes of health and safety.
  • Is being reasonably accommodated in accordance with the Human Rights Code or the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2005).
  • Performs work for the business or organization, is in an area that is not accessible to members of the public, and is able to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres (6 feet) from every other person while in the indoor area.

This last point may allow priests, ministers or other worship leaders to remove their mask during the mass (or service) when preaching to the congregation from a lectern or pulpit, so long as the area is separated by at least four metres from other people.

The priest, minister or worship leader must wear a mask when greeting people as they come in or leave the place of worship, and during communion.

A place of worship should consult with its local police service or municipal bylaw enforcement, as they may have a different interpretation and require a priest, minister or worship leader to wear a mask at all times.


Weddings and Funerals

As of 12:01 am on April 19, the following new measures apply to weddings and funerals:

  • No more than 10 people are allowed to gather indoors or outdoors for weddings and funerals. Physical distancing must be maintained, and attendees must wear masks or face coverings.
  • Social gatherings associated with these services (such as receptions) are not allowed, except for members of the same household.
  • Drive-in services, are permitted.

General COVID-19 Preventive Tips for Places of Worship
  • Maintain physical distancing by staying two metres (six feet) apart at all times.
  • Anyone who is feeling sick must stay home and not attend a service.
  • Encourage everyone to wash their hands. Ensure hand-cleaning stations and alcohol-based sanitizer dispensers are available at entrances to your place of worship. 
  • Ensure everyone wears a mask or face covering at all times, including when seated during the worship service.
  • Do NOT shake hands or hug.  
  • Remind people to cough/sneeze into their sleeves. 
  • Discourage group singing. Use audio or video recordings instead.
  • Review the sharing of items during special religious sacraments/rites, at least while COVID-19 continues to circulate. You may want to consult further with your parish/diocese/denomination/national body. 
  • Maintain a clean and safe space through regular cleaning and disinfecting. High-touch surfaces should be cleaned twice a day or following each service (whichever is more frequent).
  • Have a traffic flow plan in place, such as one-way enter/one-way exit.
  • Encourage members/parishioners who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 (including those over age 70 and people with compromised immune systems) to take part in virtual services or hold a dedicated service solely for this group.
  • Consider keeping a record of all attendees for contact tracing in case of a COVID-19 outbreak.
Stay Connected to Members/Congregants in Other Ways
  • Encourage members/congregants to only go out for essentials (like groceries or prescriptions)
  • Continue to offer virtual or live-streamed services
  • Keep in touch by phone or via social media/email/text. Share credible information – like what’s on this website on how people can protect themselves from COVID-19. 
Additional Resources:

Download and print resources below:

Emergency Orders, Directives and Closures

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, different levels of government have put in place the following directives, orders and closures. Please read on for further details.

On This Page:

HKPR District Health Unit

Provincial Orders
  • To further stop the surge in COVID-19 cases, the Ontario government is extending its State of Emergency and Stay-at-Home Order until at least May 20. Strengthened control restrictions are also now in place. All of Ontario, including Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes, is covered by these measures. Learn more how these measures affect you.
  • Due to rapidly rising COVID-19 cases, all elementary and secondary schools in Ontario will shift to teacher-led, remote learning on April 19. No date for a return to in-person learning has been set.
  • Child care for non-school aged children will remain open, but before and after school programs will be closed. Free emergency child care for the school-aged children of eligible health care and frontline workers will be provided. 
  • The Ontario government is now recommending that masks or face coverings be worn outside when 2-metres physical distancing is not possible.
  • The Province has created a COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Taskforce to plan logistics for mass vaccination across Ontario when COVID-19 vaccines are available. Click here for the latest information on booking a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes
  • The Ontario government is making it mandatory that all international travelers arriving at Pearson Airport in Toronto get tested for COVID-19. Ontario is also exploring additional testing measures at Pearson International Airport and land border crossings in the coming weeks.
  • The Ontario government is mandating the use of face coverings in all public indoor settings across the province, such as businesses, facilities and workplaces, with limited exemptions, including corrections and developmental services. Masks must also now be worn throughout religious services at places of worship.

Federal Orders 

Provincial State of Emergency and Stay-at-Home Order in Effect

On this page


Latest Update:

  • The Provincial State of Emergency and Stay-at-Home Order put in place on April 8 are now being extended an extra two weeks (to at least May 20). This is part of new enhanced measures announced by the Province on April 16 to stop the spread of COVID-19. All of Ontario, including Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes, is covered by these measures.
  • As part of the Stay-at-Home Order, you must stay home as much as possible, except to go out for essential purposes. This includes: going to the grocery store/pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated for COVID-19), outdoor exercise, or for work that cannot be done remotely. Under the updated restrictions, police and other provincial offences officers will have new temporary powers to enforce the Stay-at-Home Order. This includes: being able to ask people where they live and why they aren’t at their home, and having the discretion to issue $750 tickets if the person declines to respond to questions or provide a valid reason.
  • Additional measures announced on April 16 by the Province include:
    • Closure of all outdoor amenities like golf courses, playgrounds, basketball courts, soccer fields and tennis courts (with limited exceptions).
    • Reducing capacity limits to 25% in all retail settings where in-store shopping is permitted. This includes supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, and pharmacies (which before could operate at 50% capacity)
    • Banning all outdoor social gatherings and organized public events except with members of the same household. (NOTE: people who live alone can have exclusive contact with one other family).
    • Shutting down all non-essential workplaces in the construction sector.
    • As of Monday (April 19), limiting indoor and outdoor gatherings for religious services, weddings and funerals to no more than 10 people. Social gatherings associated with these services are prohibited, except for members of the same household. Drive-in services will still be allowed.
    • Banning interprovincial travel except for essential reasons (as of Monday, April 19, checkpoints are to be set up at Ontario border crossings into Manitoba and Quebec)
    • Allowing non-essential retailers to continue offering curbside pickup and delivery
  • Please read on below for additional information, including what and how businesses are impacted by these measures.

Key Measures in Shutdown

Below are highlights of the control measures. For full details, including on the Stay-at-Home Order and which businesses can open and operate (or remain closed), visit the Province’s information page:

Stay-at-Home Order

Essential reasons to leave home include:

  • Going to get groceries and other essentials
  • Getting medications and other supplies at the pharmacy
  • Accessing health care services (including medical appointments and getting your COVID-19 vaccination)
  • Going outside for exercise (but not to use parks and other outdoor amenities which are now closed)
  • Going to work (if you cannot do it remotely)
  • Going to daycare
  • Helping others, including providing care, support and assistance to those who need it
  • Protecting yourself (for example, escaping domestic violence)
  • Caring for animals (e.g. walking your dog, accessing veterinarian services, buying pet food/supplies).
  • Attending a wedding, funeral, or religious service.

Increased Powers to Enforce Stay-at-Home Order

  • Under the updated restrictions, police will have temporary, but increased powers to enforce the Stay-at-Home Order.
  • This includes: being able to ask people where they live and why they aren’t at their home, and having the discretion to issue $750 tickets if the person declines to respond to questions or provide a valid reason.
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Religious Services, Weddings and Funerals

NEW: As of 12:01 am on April 19, reduced limits are in place for religious services, weddings and funerals.

  • No more than 10 people are allowed to gather indoors or outdoors for weddings, funerals and religious services. Physical distancing must be maintained, and attendees must wear masks or face coverings.
  • Social gatherings associated with these services (such as receptions) are not allowed, except for members of the same household.
  • Virtual services are permitted — and may be the best option at this time.
  • Drive-in services, are permitted.
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Gatherings and Other Considerations
  • Indoor and outdoor gatherings are NOT allowed, except with members of the same household (the people you live with).
  • NOTE: Anyone who lives alone will still be able to spend time (have close contact) with one other household to reduce the impacts of isolation.
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Schools and Daycares
  • Due to rapidly rising COVID-19 cases, all elementary and secondary schools in Ontario will shift to teacher-led, remote learning on April 19. No date for a return to in-person learning has been set.
  • Child care for non-school aged children will remain open, but before and after school programs will be closed. Free emergency child care for the school-aged children of eligible health care and frontline workers will be provided. 
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How and What Businesses Are Affected – Overview
  • Click here for a full list of businesses that can open and the restrictions now in place.
  • NEW: Capacity limits at all retail settings where in-person shopping is permitted is limited to 25% capacity. Grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, indoor farmers’ markets, and other stores that primarily sell food must now operate at this 25% capacity (down from 50% capacity). Curbside pick-up and delivery can also be offered.
  • All non-essential retailers must close to in-person shopping. They are only allowed to operate with curbside pickup and delivery (by appointment) between 7 am and 8 pm.
  • Discount and big-box stores can remain open, but only to sell essential goods such as: grocery items, pet care supplies, household cleaning supplies, pharmacy items, health care items, and personal care items only. Capacity for in-person shopping is limited to 25% capacity. Curbside pick-up and delivery can also be offered.
  • Restaurants can only be open for takeout, delivery and drive through. Indoor and outdoor dining are not allowed.
  • Shopping malls must close for in-person shopping, and are limited to curbside pickup via appointment and delivery.
  • Gyms, fitness clubs, concert venues/theatres/cinemas (includes drive-in or drive-through events), barbershops, spas, hair salons and other select businesses remain closed. Click here for a full list of businesses that must stay closed.
  • A select group of stores are allowed to remain open by appointment only with a 25 per cent capacity limit (hours are restricted from 7 am to 8 pm). These include:
    • Safety supply stores
    • Businesses that primarily sell, rent or repair assistive devices, aids or supplies, mobility devices, aids or supplies or medical devices, aids or supplies
    • Rental and leasing services including automobile, commercial and light industrial machinery and equipment rental
    • Optical stores that sell prescription eyewear to the public
    • Businesses that sell motor vehicles, boats and other watercraft
    • Vehicle and equipment repair and essential maintenance and vehicle and equipment rental services
    • Retail stores operated by a telecommunications provider or service, which may only permit members of the public to enter the premises to purchase a cellphone or for repairs or technical support.
  • Outdoor garden centres and plant nurseries, as well as indoor greenhouses can remain open, but must operate at a 25% capacity limit and restrict their hours from 7 am to 8 pm.
  • NEW: Golf courses, parks/playgrounds, sports fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, frisbee golf locations, cycling trails, horse riding facilities and other outdoor amenities are now closed.
  • Seasonal campgrounds are closed. Campsites can only be made available for trailers and recreational vehicles that are: i) used by individuals who need housing and ii) permitted to be there by the terms of a full-season contract. Only campsites with electricity, water services, and sewage disposal facilities can be provided. All recreational facilities and shared facilities (other than washrooms and showers) in the campground must be closed.
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Additional Resources:

COVID-19 Emergency and Stay-at-Home Order – Government of Ontario

Click on the following links for additional support:

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COVID-19 and Schools

The Health Unit continues to work closely with local school boards and other public health units to ensure a safe return for all students, staff and families. Please read on for more information and resources for parents, school board staff and students.

Current Situation

On This Page

For Parents
Screening Your Child for COVID-19 Symptoms
What to Do If Your Child Does Not Pass Screening
Protocols When Student/Staff Test Positive for COVID-19
Return to School Protocol for Students with COVID-19 Symptoms
Provincial Resources

Guidance documents and resources:

Local School Board Resources

Learn how your local school board is working to support a safe return to class:


Frequently Asked Questions

Should I have my child tested for COVID-19 before they return to school?

Testing your child before returning to school is generally not recommended if they do not have COVID-19 symptoms, unless they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

What if my child shows symptoms before going to school or while at school?

As per the Ministry of Education Guide to Reopening Ontario Schools, all students and staff must self-screen every day using a checklist before arriving at school. If a student or staff member is experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, they must stay home from school and should seek testing and appropriate medical attention.

If a student or staff member feels sick, or develops symptoms while at school, schools will follow the following protocol:

  • Students or staff who develop COVID-19 symptoms will immediately be separated from others, and the family will be contacted to arrange pick-up.
  • Staff and students with symptoms will be directed to seek medical advice including the recommendation of testing for COVID 19 as appropriate or as advised by their medical provider. Check out local COVID 19 Assessment Centre locations, and book an appointment for COVID- 19 testing.
  • Siblings/staff of ill individual can remain in school until further medical advice is received and should self-monitor for symptoms.
  • Staff and/or students who receive an alternative diagnosis than COVID-19 can return to school once they are symptom-free for 24 hours.

Can I go to work if I don’t have any symptoms but my child is ill and we are waiting on results from their COVID-19 test?

If your child is symptomatic and has been tested for COVID-19, you and your family, including siblings, should self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. You can continue to go to school and/or work if you have no symptoms.

  • If while self-monitoring symptoms of COVID-19 develop, self-isolate and be tested for COVID-19 (and no longer attend work and school).
  • If any members of your household test positive for COVID-19, you will be contacted by Public Health directly with more detailed advice.

What if there is a positive case in my child’s school?

If a COVID-19 positive case is identified in a school, staff from the Health Unit will provide further instructions on who else in the school may need testing and/or monitoring/isolation at that time. Staff/children who are being managed by public health (e.g. confirmed cases of COVID-19, household contacts of cases, etc.) must follow the instructions provided by the HKPR District Health Unit on when they can return to school.

What if a parent/guardian tests positive for COVID-19?

Parents/guardians are not required to report their test results to their school, however it is recommended. Members of your household are required to self-isolate and should not attend work or school. If your child is at school, your child should be picked up immediately. Staff from the HKPR District Health Unit will be in contact with you for assessment and provide further direction.

Who will declare an outbreak at the school?

The Heath Unit will declare an outbreak after identifying two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in students and/or staff (or other visitors) in a school with an epidemiological link where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection in the school (including transportation and before/after school care).

Examples of reasonably having acquired infection in school include:

  • No obvious source of infection outside of the school setting; OR
  • Known exposure in the school setting

HKPR District Health Unit staff will work closely with the school to determine close contacts of the case and will provide direction on isolation and facilitate testing.

Are masks now mandatory for all students?

Mandatory masking now applies for all students in Grades 1 to 12. Mask use is also required for before- and after-school programs, as well as on school vehicles. While not required, students in Junior and Senior Kindergarten are also encouraged to wear masks.

Masks must now also be worn outdoors when physical distancing can’t be maintained.


Additional Resources

Click on the following for additional support:


For School Board Staff

Click on the following resources for guidance on safe school reopening during COVID-19:

Protocols for Individuals/Schools With COVID-19
Guidance/Checklists for Reopening Schools
For School Staff
School Nutrition Programs – Guidance and FAQs
For School Bus Drivers/Operators

Changes to Health Unit Services in Schools Due to COVID-19

Due to the pandemic, the following services in schools are being impacted:

  • School-Based Immunization for Grade 7/8 students will not take place this fall due to COVID-19. Normally, the Health Unit provides vaccines for Hep B, HPV and Meningococcal. You can still ensure your Grade 7/8 student is vaccinated for these illnesses, as the Health Unit is offering appointment-based clinics at its offices (with full COVID-19 prevention measures in place). Book your child’s vaccination appointment by calling 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1507.
  • Dental Screening for students in schools has been postponed until further notice. If your child has a toothache or cavity AND you are unable to pay for dental treatment, the Healthy Smiles Ontario (HSO) program may be able to help pay for dental care costs. For help to enroll your child in the HSO program, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1247.
  • Vision Screening for SK students has been cancelled for the 2020/21 school year. It’s recommended you call an optometrist to book a FREE eye examination for your child. To find an optometrist in your area, visit the College of Optometrists of Ontario or call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1216.

For Students

Check out these resources to help stay safe at school during the pandemic:

About COVID-19
Washing Hands
Fighting Germs
Wearing Masks
Mental Health Support

Reducing Harm When Using Drugs

Do you use substances or other drugs? Not only is it important to avoid overdoses and reduce the risk of infections like HIV and hepatitis, you also need to reduce harm from COVID-19. 

Please note: During COVID-19, if you need harm reduction supplies, please order ahead if possible by calling the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 3000. Due to the Provincial State of Emergency, Health Unit offices are temporarily closed to the public. Please ring or knock at the office door when you come to pick up and the order will be brought to the door for you.

On this page:


General Tips (For Those Not Self-Isolating/Showing No COVID-19 Symptoms) 
  • Do not share supplies (cigarettes, joints, pipes, injecting equipment, containers for alcohol, utensils, and other supplies). Use your own mouthpiece and keep it only for YOUR use 
  • Avoid handshakes, hugs, kisses and other close contact 
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before preparing, handling or using drugs. Prepare your own drugs 
  • If you cannot wash your hands with soap or use hand sanitizer, use alcohol-based hand wipes 
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use tissues. Throw tissues away immediately and wash your hands 
  • It’s strongly recommended you clean surfaces with soap and water, alcohol wipes, bleach or hydrogen peroxide before preparing drugs 
  • If you share a washroom with others, clean and disinfect surfaces like knobs, taps, and flushers. Use soap and water, bleach, hydrogen peroxide or alcohol-based wipes (70%) after every use. Do not mix different types of cleaning solutions 
  • Buddy up if using drugs, but be safe! COVID-19 is passed by droplets, so you must stay 2 metres (six feet) – roughly the length of a hockey stick – from your buddy to avoid passing the virus  
  • Using with a buddy is safer than using drugs alone, but remember to keep your physical distance! Buddies may be able to bring food, harm reduction supplies, medicine, and substances so that you can stay well. You can also be a buddy to others who need support. Check in on your buddies regularly and have them do the same for you  
  • Never use alone. Call the national overdose prevention hotline at 1-888-688-NORS (6677) or visit the National Overdose Response Service for more support.
  • Carry naloxone and have an overdose plan. If necessary, you can perform chest compressions. Do not do rescue breathing due to COVID-19 concerns  
  • If you must use drugs by yourself, call a buddy to have him/her regularly check in on you 

If Isolating (With or Without COVID-19 Symptoms)  
  • Do not leave your home! Ask a buddy to pick up supplies including naloxone from harm reduction sites or outreach workers. Arrange to have the supplies dropped off at your door, being sure to practise physical distancing  
  • Try to have the substances you need to stay well. Know that carrying large amounts may land you in trouble with the law. Consider alternatives to your drug of choice, especially if supplies are difficult to get and you face withdrawal symptoms 
  • Have a backup plan and be cautious of new supplies you may need to get  
  • Try to have the medications you need. Refills may be available through your pharmacist or by phone without having to see your doctor. If you’re feeling sick and require medications, call your pharmacy in advance 
  • Health Canada is working on exemptions to ensure access to OAT (Opioid Agonist Therapy) and other medicines 
  • For more information, contact your health care provider  
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Responding to an Overdose During COVID-19 

If using a naloxone kit, refer to the Five Steps to Respond to an Opioid Overdose sheet inside. Take these extra precautions too:  

  • Stimulate: try and rouse the person, encourage them to take breaths 
  • If no response: call 9-1-1, give naloxone and perform chest compressions. DO NOT try doing rescue breathing 
  • When using a naloxone kit: put gloves on, but do not use the faceshield/breathing barrier for rescue breaths (not advised given COVID-19 situation) 
  • After responding, properly remove gloves and throw them in the garbage. Wash/clean hands thoroughly 
  • If chest compressions are needed, place a towel or a piece of clothing over the person’s nose and mouth to protect yourself from droplets 

Reminder: The Good Samaritan Act offers legal protection for someone to help in an emergency. The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act protects anyone on scene of an overdose from being charged for possessing/using drugs 

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Additional Resources  
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COVID-19 and Daycares

Licensed child care centres are now open and operating at full capacity, but under strict protective measures due to COVID-19.

Current Situation:

On This Page:


For Child Care Providers

Child care providers must follow various COVID-19 prevention measures to protect children in their care. These measures include:

  • Ensuring all child care staff and other adults wear medical masks and eye protection (i.e. face shields) at all times while inside the child care premises, including in hallways
  • Conducting frequent and thorough cleaning and disinfecting of the facility. Frequently-touched surfaces such as doorknobs, water fountains, light switches, tabletops, electronics and toilet/faucet handles should be cleaned and disinfected at least twice a day as they are most likely to become contaminated.
  • Carrying out daily COVID-19 screening of children, staff and visitors before they can enter a childcare facility
  • Maintaining attendance records to allow for COVID-19 contact tracing and coordination if needed
  • Encouraging frequent hand washing and proper hand hygiene for children and staff
  • Following clear and rigid case management protocols should a staff member or child become ill or test positive for COVID-19.

For specifics on what is required, child care providers should consult the following resources:

Ontario Government

HKPR District Health Unit


For Parents
Screening Your Child for COVID-19 Symptoms
What to Do If Your Child Does Not Pass Screening

For KPRDSB and PVNCCDSB Schools

For TLDSB Schools

Return to Child Care Protocol for Children with COVID-19 Symptoms

Health Unit Support

The Health Unit is working with local licensed child care centres to ensure they follow proper protocols to protect the safety of children, families and staff during the pandemic. If you have questions or concerns, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5006.


Additional Resources

Use of Masks and Face Coverings Inside Public Spaces

Masks and face coverings must now be worn inside all public places across the province, including businesses, facilities and workplaces. Limited exemptions are in place, including for age, medical reasons, and special accommodations.

The provincial masking requirement is made under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act (specifically Ontario Regulation 263/20 – Rules for Areas in Stage 2 and Ontario Regulation 364/20 – Rules for Areas in Stage 3). The aim of the directive is to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

For more details, please read the the following FAQs and resources. You can also contact the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020 or info@hkpr.on.ca for additional direction.

If you have additional questions about mask use at your business or workplace, refer to your COVID-19 Safety Plan, consult with your Joint Health and Safety Committee, or contact the Ministry of Labour at 1-877-202-0008.


Who is Affected?

If you own, operate or are responsible for a business or facility that is indoors and open to the public and currently operating under Stage 3 of the provincial Framework for reopening, you must have rules in place to inform people about the need to wear a mask or face covering before entering your establishment. Certain exemptions do apply on the use of masks in these indoor settings.

Most indoor settings are covered under the rules, including businesses, stores, malls/plazas, restaurants, places of worship, public libraries, real estate open houses, personal care services (relating to the hair or body), food courts, fitting rooms, driving instruction services, sports and recreation facilities (like gyms, yoga/dance studios, and fitness facilities), children’s camps, movie theatres, performing arts centres, casinos/bingo halls/gaming establishments, and racing venues, cultural centres (museums, art galleries, etc.).

Long-term care homes and retirement homes also require masks to be worn by staff and essential visitors.

Are there places where masks/face coverings do not need to be worn?

The Ontario government is now mandating face coverings be worn across the province. This includes:

  • Public spaces (for example, inside stores, event spaces, entertainment facilities and common areas in hotels).
  • Workplaces, even those that are not open to the public.
  • Vehicles that operate as part of a business or organization, including taxis and rideshares.

According to the Province, establishments in which face coverings are not required are: correctional facilities; university dorms or other similar dwellings (except when you are in common areas and can’t maintain 2 metres from others); residences for people with developmental disabilities; and instances in which people are performing/rehearsing for a film/TV production, concert, artistic event or theatrical performance.

Masks can also be temporarily removed for:

  • Receiving services that require you to take it off (for example, going to the dentist).
  • Exercising in a gym/fitness centre
  • Eating or drinking at a restaurant
  • Health and safety purposes (as necessary)

Are churches/places of worship covered under the masking rules?

Yes, mask use is required in churches or places of worship. Attendees to religious services/rites or ceremonies must wear masks at all times, while maintaining a physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others. For additional directions on mask use and COVID-19 prevention measures in places of worship, click here.

Why are masks and face coverings required inside public places?

Wearing non-medical masks or face coverings (2+ layers are recommended) inside public places is another way to stop the spread of COVID-19. This is especially true as more businesses and public spaces reopen. With new, more contagious COVID-19 variants now circulating locally and in Ontario, the risk of illness is still there and precautions must continue to be taken.

Evidence supports wearing a mask when inside public places is an important measure in reducing COVID-19 transmission. Masks will not stop you from getting COVID-19, but may help protect others. Along with physical distancing, frequent handwashing, cough/sneeze hygiene, and staying home when ill, the use of a non-medical mask or face covering inside public places is another way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

What areas of a place of business or facility that is indoors and open to the public are subject to the non-medical mask and face covering requirements?

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), masks and other appropriate Personal Protective Equipment must be worn to ensure proper protection for eyes, nose and mouth.

Customers and patrons entering a business must also wear a mask or face covering that covers their mouth, nose and chin, unless exempted (see next question/answer for details). Masks must also be worn if people line up inside or outside the business (while maintaining physical distancing), as well as when accessing personal care services (like hair salons, barbershops, and tanning salons).

Are there times when you do not have to wear a face covering?

The Ontario government is now mandating the use of face coverings across the province. Below are the only situations when you do not need to wear a face covering:

  • Children do not have to wear a face covering indoors if they are younger than two years old.
  • If you have a medical condition that makes it difficult to wear a face covering, are unable to put on or remove a face covering without someone else’s help, and are receiving accommodations according to the Human Rights Code or the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2005).
  • In correctional facilities or youth detention centres.
  • In university dorms or other similar dwellings, except when you are in a common area and can’t maintain 2 metres (6 feet) from others.
  • If you are performing or rehearsing for a film/television production, concert, artistic event or theatrical performance.

You can also temporarily take off your face covering to:

  • Receive services that require you to take it off (e.g. at the dentist, getting a facial)
  • Take part in an athletic or fitness activity
  • To eat or drink
  • As necessary for health and safety purposes.

What happens if patrons don’t wear a mask?

People who are responsible for a place of business or facility that is indoors and open to the public and currently operating during Stage 3 must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan to ensure people are informed of the requirement to wear a mask or face covering that covers their nose, mouth and chin when entering or remaining in an indoor public space.

A COVID-19 Safety Plan (provincial template or HKPR sample resource) describes how a business or establishment will keep employees, volunteers, patrons, and other people safe, including the wearing of masks/face coverings.

People in an enclosed public space who remove their mask for extended periods of time, will receive a verbal reminder of the requirement to wear a mask under these instructions. Failure to comply with the masking requirements could lead to a fine.

Do I have to disclose my medical condition if I don’t wear a mask?

No one is required to disclose a medical condition or reason why they are exempt from wearing a mask. Medical documentation does not need to be provided either. All a person has to say is that: “I am not able to wear a mask.”

People who are responsible for a place of business/facility that is indoors and open to the public should respect this answer. For privacy reasons, owners/operators are not allowed to ask specifics on why someone cannot wear a mask. All that owners/operators are required to do is make patrons and members of the public aware of the mask use requirement.

It is recognized there are a variety of reasons why a person cannot wear a mask and people are asked to continue to be kind to each other and support everyone in the community as we work together to stop the spread of the virus. 

The requirement to have people wear masks within a place of business or facility that is indoors and open to the public is not meant to stigmatize people who are unable to wear a mask due to medical reasons or their age.

No one should be denied service if they cannot wear a mask. To protect their staff and customers, some businesses may offer their service in another way (such as through curbside pickup, delivery services) without allowing someone to enter without a mask.

To avoid potential problems, call ahead to a business to see what its policy is regarding masking and to see if curbside pickup or delivery service options are available.

Why can’t mask use be a voluntary decision?

Although there has been information and messaging shared on the public health benefits of wearing a mask when physical distancing is a challenge, many people will still not wear a mask. Many of the people who are now testing positive for COVID-19 are asymptomatic and do not realize they are ill. If they do not wear a mask in public, they can easily spread the virus to other, more vulnerable people within the community.

The requirement to wear a mask within a place of business or facility that is indoors and open to the public is meant to serve as a reminder to everyone who can wear a mask, that they should be doing so to help protect others.

How is this being enforced?

Every owner/operator of a place of business or facility that is indoors and open to the public will have a COVID-19 Safety Plan that outlines the requirements for customers/patrons to wear a mask or face covering when entering the premises.

Employees and operators will provide a verbal reminder to any customer entering the premises without a mask that the customer should be wearing a mask as a result of this directive.

Implementation of this will be enacted and enforced in ‘good faith’ and will be primarily used as a means to educate people on mask use in public spaces. 

No one should be denied service if they cannot wear a mask. However, service may be offered in an alternate way (such as curbside pickup, delivery) without allowing an unmasked person to enter the facility.

Public Health Inspectors from the HKPR District Health Unit, as well as municipal bylaw and local police officers, will be involved in providing additional education and enforcement to operators of commercial establishments.

What are the fines?

As per the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, those who do not comply with the above noted requirements may be liable for a fine of: $750 – $1,000 for an individual owner/operator of a commercial establishment, to a maximum of $100,000 or in the case of a corporation, not more than $10,000,000 for each day or part of each day on which the offence occurs or continues.

Are both businesses and customers subject to fines?

As noted above, implementation of this restriction will be enacted and enforced in ‘good faith’ and will be primarily used as a means to educate people on mask use in public spaces.

As per the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, those businesses that do not comply with the instructions may be liable for a fine of $750 to $1,000 for an individual, to a maximum of $100,000, or in the case of a corporation, not more than $10,000,000 for each day or part of each day on which the offence occurs or continues.

What would be the best way for store owners to address the issue if patrons don’t have or refuse to wear a mask for both reasons that are legitimate and those that are not?

People who are responsible for a place of business or facility that is indoors and open to the public are asked to use their “best effort” to ensure patrons and members of the public wear a mask while in the commercial premise. This means offering a verbal reminder to the patron that mask use is required within the establishment or a verbal reminder about mask use if the person removes the mask while in the premise. 

No one should be denied service if they cannot wear a mask. However, service may be offered in an alternate way (such as curbside pickup, delivery) without allowing an unmasked person to enter the facility.

For privacy reasons, if you are someone who is responsible for a place of business or facility that is indoors and open to the public, you cannot ask patrons the reasons they cannot wear a mask. All you are required to do is make patrons and members of the public aware of the mask use requirement.

Do restaurant servers need to wear masks?

Servers must wear a mask and eye protection, as part of the required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The COVID-19 Safety Plan must describe the requirements of wearing masks or face coverings, and the wearing of PPE.

Is it mandatory that employees working in retail stores are required to wear masks?

Yes. The COVID-19 Safety Plan must describe the requirements of wearing masks or face coverings, and the wearing of PPE.

Are staff and customers still required to wear a mask if there is a plexiglass barrier between them?

Yes, a barrier is not sufficient to stop the droplet transmission of the virus. When both parties are wearing a mask, it protects both the staff and the customer from the potential spread of the virus.

Can I remove my mask or face covering if physical distancing is not a concern in the establishment or enclosed public space I am visiting?

Members of the public are permitted to temporarily remove a mask for the following reasons:

  • Receiving services (including eating or drinking when dine-in services are allowed), 

OR

  • While actively engaging in an athletic or fitness activity including water-based activities.

Ensure you wash your hands using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after removing your mask or face covering.

What should store owners and staff do if a customer does not/cannot wear a mask?

Owners/operators and staff of commercial establishments are asked to use their “best effort” to ensure patrons and members of the public wear a mask while in the commercial premise. This means offering a verbal reminder to the patron that mask use is required within the establishment or a verbal reminder about mask use if the person removes the mask while in the premise.

No one should be denied service if they cannot wear a mask. However, service may be offered in an alternate way (such as curbside pickup, delivery) without allowing an unmasked person to enter the facility.

I work in a hot commercial kitchen/warehouse. Do I need to wear a mask?

If you work in a commercial establishment, a mask should be worn when interacting with the members of the public inside. You may want to contact your Ministry of Labour representative to clarify if mask and/or Personal Protective Equipment is required in your situation to avoid a potential fine.

Who do I call if I want to report a business not requiring customers to wear a mask?

To report a non-complying business, or for more information on the Health Unit’s instructions to places of business or facilities that are indoors and open to the public to require the use of masks by patrons, call the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020.

Can a person be refused service for not wearing a non-medical mask or face covering?

The implementation should be enforced in “good faith” and any person not wearing a mask will receive a verbal reminder from the staff of the establishment.

No one should be denied service if they cannot wear a mask. However, service may be offered in an alternate way (such as curbside pickup, delivery) without allowing an unmasked person to enter the facility.

How do I choose a non-medical mask or face covering?

In choosing a non-medical mask, ensure it is:

  • Made of 2+ layers of tightly woven fabric (such as cotton or linen)
  • Well-fitted with ear loops or ties
  • A comfortable fit against your face and allows you to breathe easily without having to adjust it
  • Large enough to completely cover the nose and mouth without gaping
  • Durable to allow you to frequently wash and dry it without losing its shape

Other options for non-medical masks include wearing a bandana or scarf, or making one out of a T-shirt or a bandana. The Public Health Agency of Canada also offers instructions on how to make a homemade face coverings.

Are face shields allowed?

A face shield is not a substitute for wearing a face mask as it does not filter respiratory droplets. A face shield may provide additional protection for the wearer against droplets expelled from another person, however these droplets may still be inhaled around the shield. Respiratory droplets expelled by the wearer may escape around the sides of the face shield, which therefore provides less protection to others. If you choose to wear a face shield, we recommend – if possible – to wear it in addition to a properly fitted cloth masks.

If I can’t wear a mask, can I wear a face shield?

A face shield would not be considered an equal substitute for a face mask as it does not provide filtering capacity. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) supports the use of face shields as a “better than nothing” alternative to face masks if there is a shortage of non-medical masks or for populations who are not able to properly wear non-medical masks, such as individuals with a respiratory condition that prevents them from wearing a mask. The WHO makes note that face shields are inferior to face masks at preventing the spread of an infection through droplets and at a minimum should extend below the chin and cover the sides of the face. 

What is the proper way to use a non-medical mask or 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.

Watch this How to Use a Cloth Mask Video for additional tips. 

What is double masking? Is it now recommended given the new, more contagious COVID-19 variants of concern circulating in Ontario?

Double-masking means wearing one face mask on top of another. An example is wearing a disposable mask underneath a cloth mask.

In early February 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new research that found wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask offers more protection against the coronavirus, as does tying knots on the ear loops of surgical masks. This has resulted in new CDC guidelines for Americans on improving mask fit, which includes adding layers of material to a mask (either by using cloth masks with multiple layers of fabric, or by wearing a disposable mask under a cloth mask).

This change comes as new, more contagious COVID-19 variants are circulating. So far, the Public Health Agency of Canada has not changed its recommendations on mask use in Canada. In November 2020, PHAC did update its recommendations to say non-medical masks should be made of at least three layers, with the middle layer being a filter-type fabric.

Currently in Ontario, you must wear a non-medical mask or face covering that covers your nose, mouth and chin inside any business or public place. Properly wearing a mask inside public spaces and maintaining 2 metres physical distance from others are important measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Masks will not stop you from getting COVID-19, but can help protect others.

While there is no instruction to ‘double mask’ in Canada, consider doing so if it makes you feel more comfortable (taking care to ensure it does not make breathing difficult). Add an extra layer to your cloth mask or try wearing a cloth mask over a disposable mask.

The best advice to prevent COVID-19 remains staying home as much as possible and avoiding contact with other people you do not live with.


Additional Resources

Posters For Businesses/Commercial Establishments

How to Use/Wear a (3-Layer) Cloth Mask Video – HKPR District Health Unit Video

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. 

NOTE: As of 12:01 am on Thursday, April 8, a provincial State of Emergency and Stay-at-Home Order is in place in Ontario to stop the spread of COVID-19. All of Ontario, including Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes, is covered by these measures. See how these measures affect you.

General Tips

For Homeless Shelters and Service Providers 

For Food Banks/Food Program Providers 

If you are feeling ill, stay at home and away from others

Physical Distancing: 

  • Change the layout of your centre so there is enough space for staff, volunteers and clients to maintain physical distance
  • Remove client wait areas. Get people to wait outdoors (weather permitting). Use pylons or tape spaced 2 metres apart to guide clients on where to stand in line. 
  • Mark or assign work stations so that staff/volunteers can maintain a 2-metre distance apart.
  • Limit the number of clients in the centre at one time.
  • Stagger arrivals and departures to reduce client contact.
  • 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 on additional days so clients can be spread out.  

Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette 

  • Wash hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer often. Do this before and after receiving items and making packages for delivery.
  • Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer (60-90% concentration) and tissues at all entrances and work stations.
  • Remind staff, volunteers and clients to sneeze or cough into the bend of their elbow or into a tissue. Used tissue must be thrown  into the trash. Wash or sanitize hands after.

Masks/Face Coverings

  • Wear a mask or face covering. NOTE: Face coverings must be worn inside all public spaces (unless exempted due to age or health reasons)
  • Develop a policy and protocols for your organization on mask use.
  • Educate staff and volunteers on proper use and disposal of masks.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

  • Increase surface cleaning and disinfecting on high-touch surfaces (E.g. doorknobs, light switches, all phones, counters, handles on cabinets, fridges, utility or grocery carts, pens, computers stations, etc.) 
  • Use only disinfectants that have an 8-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN). The DIN means a product is approved by Health Canada for use in this country. Click here for a specific list of hard-surface disinfectants that are known to be effective against COVID-19. Chlorine bleach may also be used as a disinfectant.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for the safe use of products for cleaning or disinfecting. This includes ensuring disinfectants are left on surfaces/items for the proper length of time to be effective.  

Food Distribution Considerations: 

  • Contact the client ahead of time to arrange a delivery/pickup time.
  • Let staff and volunteers handle the food for clients. Pre-pack food boxes or bags based on clients’ wishes and pass out food at the door. Food boxes or bags may need to be smaller or lighter for easier delivery/carrying.
  • If delivering packages for clients:
    • Wash or sanitize hands before the delivery.
    • Drop off the package at the client’s door without entering their home.
    • If staff/volunteer must enter the home, put on a mask before entering.  Avoid touching surfaces in the client’s home.  Maintain 2m distance from other people in the home. Wash or sanitize hands when leaving the client’s home. 

Additional Resources

Download and print resources below:

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

Mask Use during COVID-19

On This Page:

Wearing face coverings is an important way to reduce the risk of COVID-19. That’s why it’s important to know when and how to properly wear a mask.

NOTE: The Ontario government is mandating the use of face coverings in all public indoor settings across the province, such as businesses, facilities and workplaces, with limited exemptions. For complete details, click here.

The Province now recommends wearing a mask or face covering outdoors when you can’t maintain 2 metres physical distance from others outside your household. 

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 COVID-19 symptoms 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:

The Ontario government is now mandating that masks have to be worn in all indoor public places across the province (with some exceptions).

When 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. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) advises that putting on a homemade mask can help protect others around you if you’re ill with COVID-19 and do not yet know it. PHAC is also recommending that masks or face coverings should be made of at least three layers, including:

  • Two layers made of tightly woven material fabric, such as cotton and
  • A third (middle) layer made of a filter-type fabric, such as non-woven polypropylene.

NOTE: People shouldn’t throw away their two-layer non-medical masks. If making or buying more masks, consider the three-layer mask for improved protection.

Wearing a face mask in public places, together with washing your hands with soap and water, staying home and maintaining physical distancing, are all important to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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

  • Children under age 2 years, or a child under the age of five years either chronologically or developmentally
  • A person who is unable to remove a mask without assistance
  • Anyone who cannot safely wear a non-medical mask or face covering due to medical reasons such as, but not limited to, respiratory disease, cognitive difficulties or difficulties in hearing or processing information

Click here for specific information on mask use regulations currently in effect in Ontario.


Double Masking

Double-masking means wearing one face mask on top of another. An example is wearing a disposable mask underneath a cloth mask.

In early February 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new research that found wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask offers more protection against the coronavirus, as does tying knots on the ear loops of surgical masks. This has resulted in new CDC guidelines for Americans on improving mask fit, which includes adding layers of material to a mask (either by using cloth masks with multiple layers of fabric, or by wearing a disposable mask under a cloth mask).

This change comes as new, more contagious COVID-19 variants are circulating. So far, the Public Health Agency of Canada has not changed its recommendations on mask use in Canada. In November 2020, PHAC did update its recommendations to say non-medical masks should be made of at least three layers, with the middle layer being a filter-type fabric.

Currently in Ontario, you must wear a non-medical mask or face covering that covers your nose, mouth and chin inside any business or public place. Properly wearing a mask inside public spaces and maintaining 2 metres physical distance from others are important measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Masks will not stop you from getting COVID-19, but can help protect others.

While there is no instruction to ‘double mask’ in Canada, consider doing so if it makes you feel more comfortable (taking care to ensure it does not make breathing difficult). Add an extra layer to your cloth mask or try wearing a cloth mask over a disposable mask.

The best advice to prevent COVID-19 remains staying home as much as possible and avoiding contact with other people you do not live with.


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.
  • For ideas on making your own homemade cloth masks, visit this Public Health Agency of Canada masks resource page.

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

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