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COVID-19 and Business

Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen

As of July 16, 2021, the entire province of Ontario, including the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit (LGLDHU) region, begins Step 3 of the Roadmap to Reopen. The Roadmap to Reopen is a three-step plan to safely and cautiously reopen the province and gradually lift public health measures. O. Reg. 364/20: RULES FOR AREAS AT STEP 3 and the Roadmap to Reopen detail what public health precautions must be taken, including what types of businesses/organizations can open and operate and related public health measures. Check our COVID-19: Roadmap to Reopen webpage for more information.

Information for Businesses

The menus below contain general information on popular topics related to businesses/organizations. Check our COVID-19: Roadmap to Reopen webpage for more information.

Mask/face covering use is mandatory in all public indoor settings across the province, such as businesses, facilities and workplaces. For detailed information, see the menu entitled Mandatory Face Coverings/Masks in Ontario on our Face Coverings/Masks webpage. These restrictions add to the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark (LGL) Medical Officer of Health Face Covering/Mask Instruction that was renewed on October 1, 2020. Workers must wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) that protects their eyes (e.g., safety goggles/glasses, face shield), nose and mouth (e.g., mask/face covering), if in the course of providing services they are:

  • Required to come within 2 metres of another person who is not wearing a mask or face covering.
  • In an indoor area and are not separated by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.

Use this poster in your premises to advise the public of face covering/mask requirements.

All businesses/organizations must have a COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan in place. Use this sample COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan and COVID-19 Safety Checklist as guides to create your own. The Safety Plan must be in writing and be made available to any person to review it on request. A copy of the Safety Plan must be posted in a publicly available space where it could come to the attention of staff or patrons.

It is essential for business owners to conduct a risk assessment and to apply a combination of infection prevention and control practices as appropriate for your workplace. There are several practices that can be put in place to ensure a safer workplace environment that protects and prevents against infection. It is important to remember that some practices are more effective than others, as depicted in the Hierarchy of Controls diagram on this page. From most effective to least effective, the recommended practices are:

  • Limit in person contact (e.g., work from home, use virtual services).
  • Change the physical environment (e.g., barriers, physical distancing markers in lineups, hand hygiene stations).
  • Introduce administrative protocols (e.g., screening, policies, staff training and education).
  • Use Personal Protective Equipment (e.g., mask/face covering, face shield, gloves).

Other Resources:

Screening staff and essential visitors:

Screening patrons:

  • Businesses must implement passive screening for patrons (e.g., posting signs outside the store front advising patrons about not entering if they have COVID-19 symptoms). Use this COVID-19 Symptom Screening Poster.
  • Some businesses/organizations must actively screen patrons for symptoms of COVID-19. Use the COVID-19 Customer Screening tool.

There are no social bubbles in the workplace. This means:

  • Physical distance from others at least 2 metres at all times.
  • Wear a face covering/mask and other PPE (e.g., face shield, eye protection) as required.
  • Do not congregate in the lunch room.

We have had and continue to have COVID-19 outbreaks in workplaces in our region. Please remain diligent and COVID-smart to prevent outbreaks:

  • SSelf-isolate if you have symptoms of COVID-19. Consider getting tested.
  • MMask/face covering on when in enclosed public spaces and when physical distancing is a challenge outdoors.
  • A – Avoid touching your face.
  • R – Remain 2 metres/6 feet apart from people you do not live with.
  • T – Twenty (20) seconds for regular hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette (cough or sneeze into a tissue or your arm).

Check our COVID-19: Roadmap to Reopen webpage for more information.

  • For more detailed information, see the Personal Service Settings (PSS) menu on our COVID-19: Roadmap to Reopen page.
  • Read our COVID-19 Guidance for Personal Service Settings during Step 3  
  • Persons providing personal care services relating to the hair or body, including hair salons and barbershops, manicure and pedicure salons, aesthetician services, piercing services, tanning salons, spas and tattoo studios, are required to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), which includes a mask that is at least a medical/surgical grade and eye protection (e.g., safety goggles/glasses, face shield) that provides protection of the eyes, nose and mouth. An N95 mask is not necessary. A cloth face covering/mask is not acceptable as PPE as it serves as ‘source control’ instead of protection.
  • Personal Service Settings must also comply with the PSS Regulation in addition to the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, S.O. 2020, c. 17. For more COVID-19 related information and signage for Businesses, visit our COVID-19 (Coronavirus) webpage or call 1-800-660-5853 and ask to speak with a Public Health Inspector. Information for Personal Service Settings can also be found on our Information for Service Providers webpage.
  • Check our COVID-19: Roadmap to Reopen webpage for more information.
  • Eating and drinking establishments that provide seating indoors or outdoors must implement a customer logging system which should include:
    • Every customers name and their contact information;
    • When they arrived at your establishment and the time they left;
    • The server(s) name for each patron/party.
  • Quickly following up on contacts of cases will help to contain and stop the spread of COVID-19. Use this Food Premises Contact Tracing Form to assist you with logging the information required. Having a complete list of visitors and staff in your establishment during the time a positive COVID-19 case was present will prevent us from having to do a media release alerting the public of the incident, for contact tracing purposes.

    It is very important that workplaces take every reasonable precaution to protect their workers. COVID-19 is being spread in the workplace. Below are some strategies to help stop the spread.

    1. All staff must wear a procedural/medical face mask while in the work place where 2M of separation from another person cannot be maintained (e.g., in the kitchen or eating or drinking areas).

    2. If a member of your staff has an exemption from wearing a mask and has a job where they come within 2M of another person, that employee must get deployed to another job where at least 2M can be maintained from any other person or where other control measures can be implemented.  Note: a face shield is not a substitute for a face mask.

    3. Servers must wear a mask/face covering and eye protection (e.g., face shield or goggles) while serving in indoor dining areas. Servers must wear a mask/face covering and are strongly recommended to wear eye protection (e.g., face shield or goggles) while serving in outdoor dining areas.

    4. Employee screening prior to coming to work is extremely important. All workers should use the Ontario COVID-19 worker and employee screening tool to help the employee assess their health prior to coming to work. If an employee becomes ill while at work they should be sent home immediately, told to isolate and visit a local assessment centre for testing. 

    5. Your workplace must have a COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan. This plan will help you identify the vulnerable areas in your workplace where there could be a workplace exposure and what controls can be put in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Staff must be trained on this safety plan. The plan must be posted in the work place and made available upon request by any person.

    6. Dine-in customers must be actively screened for symptoms of COVID-19. Use the COVID-19 Customer Screening tool.

  • We encourage everyone to be extra diligent in the workplace. Don’t forget that the lunch/break rooms tend to be a source of exposure between employees. It is very important to stagger break/lunch shifts to limit the number of people using the lunch/break rooms. The occupancy limit for these rooms should be posted to help prevent overcrowding and everyone should wear a mask if they are not in the act of eating or drinking.

  • Fact Sheet: Requirements for Vendors of Farmers’ Markets Operating During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Child care centres remain open in all zones, subject to reopening plans and epidemiology of the virus. Refer to our COVID-19 and Child Care section for further information.

For guidance on sports and recreation, refer to the Sports and Recreation menu on our Physical Activity and Mental Wellness webpage and our COVID-19: Roadmap to Reopen webpage.

Rapid antigen testing (rapid testing) is an additional screening tool used to screen asymptomatic employees of a workplace or high risk setting that are participating in the Provincial Antigen Screening Program. Businesses that wish to participate in the program may register online. Program eligibility was recently expanded to include any business that is allowed to be open and requires staff to work on-site.

Rapid testing should be used only for screening purposes and should not be used for diagnosis of acute COVID-19 infection. Rapid testing DOES NOT replace COVID-19 public health measures such as symptom screening, physical distancing, PPE (masking, eye protection) and hand hygiene. 

Prior to initiating the Provincial Screening Program, the workplace must notify the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit that they will be conducting rapid antigen screening. The workplace must ensure all requirements described in the COVID-19 Guidance: Considerations for Rapid Antigen Point-of-Care Screening and Considerations for Privately Initiated Testing are being followed when using rapid antigen testing as part of workplace screening. 

More information on Rapid Antigen testing can be found at:

Question and Answers:

  • What is the Rapid Antigen Test?
    Rapid antigen testing is available for asymptomatic individuals who are part of a workplace or setting that is participating in the Provincial Antigen Screening Program. Rapid testing should be used as a screening tool only for asymptomatic individuals with no known exposures to COVID-19 and should not be used for diagnosis of acute COVID-19 infection.
  • How long does a rapid test take?
    A COVID-19 rapid screening test can be performed anywhere (e.g., on-site, at the place of employment) and does not require shipping a specimen to a lab for processing. It takes about 15 minutes to yield a result.
  • I have COVID-19 symptoms/or have been exposed to a person with COVID-19. Can I be screened at work with the rapid test?
    No, the rapid antigen test is only available to asymptomatic individuals with no known high risk exposure to a COVID-19 case. You must book an appointment at your local COVID-19 assessment center and self-isolate until the results are back.
  • I passed the rapid test do I still need practice social distancing and wear a mask?
    Yes, a rapid test is an added level of protection and does not replace public health measures such as symptom screening, physical distancing, masking and hand hygiene in the workplace.
  • My test result was positive. What happens now?
    A positive rapid antigen test must be confirmed by a laboratory-based PCR test within 24 hours. You need to book a COVID-19 test at your local assessment center and isolate until the result of the lab-based PCR test results are received. The appropriate public health unit will be notified of a positive PCR result through the Ontario Laboratories Information System (OLIS) and will conduct follow up accordingly.
  • What do we do with used test kits/swabs?
    Rapid test kits have been designated as bio hazardous waste by the manufacturer and must be handled as such. Bio hazardous waste should be stored in a separate and appropriate container with the universal biohazard label. Waste containers should be stored in a safe manner to prevent spills or leaks, and in a secure area where access is limited until a registered waste management company or hauler can remove the waste safely. Most waste management companies will be able to provide bio hazard disposal bins at a cost.
  • How should used test kits/swabs be disposed of?
    Every municipality has specific guidelines on bio hazardous waste removal therefore contact your local municipality and/or your provider for garbage removal to obtain direction. Most waste management companies will be able to provide bio hazard disposal bins and removal, at a cost. If this is not possible there are waste disposal companies that can be contracted.
  • What are the requirements for individuals administering the tests?
    A range of health professionals and trained individuals who have the knowledge, skills, and judgment to administer the test in accordance with the manufacturer’s label are able to administer the tests. Appropriate health and safety precautions (i.e. personal protective equipment) must be taken to ensure the safety of all participating individuals.
  • How do I receive the test kits?
    The government will provide employers with free rapid antigen test kits if approved to participate in the program after registering online. Further information and directions will be given directly to employers. Participating workplaces must adhere to the parameters outlined in the terms and conditions.
  • Is there training available?
    Online training materials are available from Ontario Health at COVID-19 Health System Response Materials | Ontario Health under the ‘Training and Resources’ tab.

Ontario’s Stop the Spread Business Information Line

  • Business owners/operators/staff who have questions about closures of workplaces or how COVID-19 measures impact their business or employment can call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line toll-free at 1-888-444-3659.
  • Help is available from Monday to Sunday, 8:30am–5:00pm.

For local information on who to call if you have a concern or complaint see the COVID-19 Response Chart.

COVID-19 Public Health Guidance for Businesses

Visit the website of your local municipality for information on municipal services and resources during COVID-19.

Leeds and Grenville

Lanark

Hierarchy of Controls

Most effective to least effective recommended COVID-19 business practices pyramid

For Employers

  • Consider which employees can work from home.
  • Consider an online meeting platform to meet with customers or colleagues.
  • Establish and/or maintain online or telephone ordering services.
  • Refer to this fact sheet from the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario for information on how staff working from home can maintain privacy, security, and access to information in their work.
  • Avoid encouraging travel between regions when promoting your business. Travel between regions (regardless of what level of Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework the regions are in), is recommended for essential purposes only.
  • Use appointments to limit the number of people in one place.
  • Monitor the number of people in your premises. Follow capacity guidelines in Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework.
  • Monitor customers while in the business to ensure they keep their distance. Use signs, marks on the floor, staff directing traffic flow, and your PA system.
  • Use clear barriers to protect workers where possible. See supply list for plexiglass in Leeds and Grenville.
  • If you use vehicles as part of your business consider one person per vehicle or one employee in the front seat and another employee in the back seat. Employees must wear a face covering/mask while in a work vehicle.
  • Stagger employee work schedules and breaks.
  • Set up the break and lunch rooms so people can stay 2 metres/6 feet away from each other.
  • Consider the flow of your business. Customers should be directed one way throughout your place of business.
  • If possible, have a separate Entrance and Exit door to avoid customer congestion.
  • Reduce the amount of money being exchanged. Encourage debit, credit or e-transfers.
  • Maintain curbside and delivery services as part of your normal business.
  • Remove loose items such as condiments, stir sticks, pens, straws, pamphlets, brochures and other items that may be touched by multiple people.
  • Commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are sufficient at killing COVID-19.
  • Ensure that the disinfectant has an 8 digit Drug Identification Number (DIN). List of disinfectants with evidence of use against COVID-19.
  • Businesses or places that are open shall ensure that equipment, washrooms, locker rooms, change rooms, showers and commonly touched items (e.g., door handles, light switches, seating, plexiglass barriers, debit machines, shopping carts, etc.) that are accessible to the public are cleaned and disinfected as frequently as is necessary to maintain a sanitary condition.
  • Read this fact sheet for more on Cleaning and Disinfecting Bathrooms Used by the Public as well as our Frequently Asked Question and Answers document.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions when mixing cleaners or disinfectants.
  • Have proper training for employees to handle cleaners and disinfectants and have Safety Data sheets available and bottles or containers properly labeled.
  • For more, see this Public Health Ontario resource on cleaning and disinfecting in public settings.
  • Implement a formal screening process for COVID-19. Use the Ontario self-assessment tool.
  • Implement a human resource policy that outlines clear instructions for staff on actions to take if they, or a visitor, screen positive or negative on the assessment tool.
  • Contact public health for consultation on policy development, and for advice on what to do if there has been a potential exposure in your workplace.
  • Train and educate employees on workplace infection prevention and control measures (e.g., on proper use of PPE, hand hygiene, physical distancing, and cleaning and disinfecting practices). Use the videos, posters, and fact sheets on this webpage to support this training.
  • Support the mental and emotional health of your employees: CMHA’s 6 Tips to Respond to Employee Anxiety about COVID-19.
  • Ensure staff wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including eye protection:
    • Everyone must wear a mask/face covering that covers their mouth, nose and chin inside any business or place that is open, with some exceptions.
    • Workers must wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) that protects their eyes (e.g., face shield, goggles), nose and mouth, if in the course of providing services they are:
      • Required to come within 2 metres of another person who is not wearing a mask or face covering.
      • In an indoor area and are not separated by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.
  • Install clear barriers at cash registers or any other locations in the work place where a barrier would be appropriate.
  • Have hand washing facilities or hand sanitizer available for employees and customers.
  • Use these resources on PPE to help educate management and staff:
  • Encourage your employees’ overall health. Refer to our Physical Activity and Mental Wellness page for resources.
  • If ever there was a system that relied on multiple parts and complex processes it is the human immune system. Its job is to protect us against disease by fighting infection. It needs at least 11 different vitamins and minerals as well as protein, carbohydrates and some fat to build it and keep it going. Provide everyone the space and time they need to eat meals. Check out our Healthy Eating section for more information on healthy eating at the workplace. Keep in mind that some of your employees maybe be challenged with food insecurity.

Supporting Employees to Return to Work

As businesses start to re-open, some employees may feel stress and anxiety with re-integrating into a modified workplace as well as the possibility of exposing themselves and/or their families to COVID-19. The Canadian Mental Health Association has outlined a number of ways in which employers can support employees’ return to work during these difficult times. Here are a few tips:

  • Have a Plan: Let employees know that you have conducted a risk assessment unique to your workplace and have developed a workplace safety plan that complies with public health recommendations and requirements. Engage interested and appropriate employees in the monitoring and evaluation of your plan, and be open to revisions based on feedback and/or as new information emerges.
  • Communicate: Fear and anxiety can grow in the absence of up-to-date and accurate information. Reassure employees that you are looking ahead, staying well informed on the current status of COVID-19 in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark and that you are seeking out credible sources of information. Let your employees know that they can expect regular updates from you and that you will seek answers to any questions they may have.
  • Acknowledge the ‘New Normal’: Share that you know these times are stressful and that it is okay to be anxious. Acknowledge that this is not quite ‘business as usual’ and that there may be long term changes to the way your business operates. Reassure staff that expectations will shift accordingly and you are there to support them in this new work environment.
  • Support Mental Health: Encourage employees to practice self-care and reassure them that it is ok to take steps to manage stress (e.g. relaxation exercises, listening to music, taking regular breaks). Ensure employees are aware of workplace tools to support their transition back to work (e.g. EAP), and direct employees to local coping, helping and mental wellness resources.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Your employee may have been advised to self-isolate at home while waiting for test results. If your employee has received public health advice to self-isolate, they should NOT be going into work.
  • Individuals who have had close contact with this employee may need to take additional precautions; they will be contacted by public health.
  • In your workplace continue to practice physical distancing and use resources on cleaning and disinfecting public settings and public washrooms.
  • For local information on who to call if you have a concern or complaint see the COVID-19 Response Chart.
  • Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 are directed to self-isolate. Public Health will be in contact with individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and their close contacts daily to provide education and guidance on their self-isolation period, and when it can be discontinued.
  • The Health Unit is not providing letters for return to work with negative test results. Often people who have had COVID-19 can test positive for a length of time after they have completed their isolation and are no longer contagious. This is because they can still have dead virus  in their bodies that is detected by the test. If they have been cleared by our staff they are safe to return to work. This is usually 10 days after the onset of symptoms or 14 days for those that are asymptomatic.
  • Individuals who have had close contact with this employee may need to take additional precautions; they will be contacted by public health.
  • Use resources on the For Employers page that help to facilitate physical distancing, as well as cleaning and disinfecting public settings and public washrooms.
  • If you receive questions from your employees, direct them to the For Employees section on this page.
  • For local information on who to call if you have a concern or complaint see the COVID-19 Response Chart.
  • Individuals who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be contacted by public health.
  • They will receive education and instruction from public health on self-monitoring and/or self-isolation. If your employee has received public health advice to self-isolate, they should NOT be going into work.
  • For local information on who to call if you have a concern or complaint see the COVID-19 Response Chart.

The Health Unit is not providing letters for return to work with negative test results. COVID-19 test results are private health information. You may ask an employee for their test results before they return to work and if they consent they can share them with you verbally or show them to you.

  • Public Health will be in contact with your business and will work with you to conduct a risk assessment. Recommendations will be made in support of workplace health and safety.
  • An individual who tests positive will be directed to self-isolate. They should NOT be accessing public spaces or stores.
  • Public Health will be in contact with individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and the people they have been in close contact with on a daily basis to provide education and guidance on their self-isolation period, and when it can be discontinued.
  • Use resources on the For Employers page that help to inform cleaning and disinfecting of public settings and public washrooms.
  • For local information on who to call if you have a concern or complaint see the COVID-19 Response Chart.
  • Download the COVID Alert App on your smartphone. The app can alert you if you may have been exposed to COVID-19 and let others know if you test positive for COVID-19, without sharing any personal information.

As per O. Reg. 364/20: RULES FOR AREAS AT STEP 3, every individual in the indoor area of the premises of a business or organization, or in a vehicle that is operating as part of a business or organization, must wear a mask or face covering in a manner that covers their mouth, nose and chin during any period when they are in the indoor area. Some exceptions may apply.

In the event that a person enters your business premises without a face covering/mask, you can kindly remind the person that they must wear a face covering/mask in your business premises, and then there are 3 scenarios that could occur:

  1. The person puts on a face covering/mask and can enter your business premises.
  2. The person indicates they qualify for an exception. Kindly allow the person to enter your business premises without a face covering/mask. Do not ask any follow-up questions. No person shall be required to provide proof of any of the exceptions.
  3. The person indicates they do not qualify for an exception and refuses to put on a face covering/mask. Remind the person to bring a face covering/mask the next time they come as this is required. Some businesses provide masks for sale for this kind of situation.

We are all in the fight against COVID-19 together. It is so important that we all protect each other’s health and do everything we can to ensure our local businesses can continue to operate safely for everyone. We kindly ask that everyone acts in good faith regarding the mandatory face covering/mask requirements. Regardless of whether someone is wearing a face covering/mask or not, please treat everyone with respect and courtesy.

The Public Health Instruction is requiring Operators to do the following:

  • Post signage in your premises to advise the public of face covering/mask requirements.
  • Have alcohol-based hand sanitizer available for use at all entrances and exits.
  • Remind customers of the mandatory face covering/mask requirement. As per the Instruction, implementation of the policy should be enacted and enforced in ‘good faith’ and should be primarily used as a means to educate people on face covering/mask use in Enclosed Public Spaces.

We are not asking Operators to refuse or confront customers.

For Employees

  • Talk to your employer about work from home options.
  • Complete the COVID-19 self-assessment before going to work.
  • Follow your workplace screening policies.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands.
  • Bring only what you need into the building and make sure these items are clean.
  • If you become sick while at work, notify your supervisor and leave immediately.
  • Adhere to all the infection prevention and control measures in the workplace:
    • Wear a mask/face covering that covers your mouth, nose and chin.
    • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) that protects your eyes (e.g., face shield, goggles), nose and mouth, if in the course of providing services you are:
      • Required to come within 2 metres of another person who is not wearing a mask or face covering.
      • In an indoor area and are not separated by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.
    • Physical distance at least 2 metres from all other people at all times.
    • Wash or sanitize your hands often.
    • Sneeze or cough into your sleeve.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
    • Keep work surfaces clean and disinfected.

For the Public Accessing Businesses

As per O. Reg. 364/20: RULES FOR AREAS AT STEP 3, a business owner/operator should not refuse any person entry into their business premises if the person claims they qualify for an exception to the face covering/mask legislation, including those who are accommodated under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) or who have protections under the Ontario Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c.H.19, as amended.

No person shall be required to provide proof of any of the exemptions.

At this time, Operators are encouraged to use an educational approach to encourage all people entering to use a face covering/mask. 

As per the Trespass to Property Act, an Operator can refuse entry and/or service. If they do so in violation of other legislation, including but not limited to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) or the Ontario Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c.H.19, as amended, there may be consequences (e.g., a violation of human rights claim).

*NOTE: Businesses are complying with this instruction to protect the health of their customers, staff and our community. Finding ways to work together so we can all get through this difficult time is important. If you feel you are being denied service, reach out to the business to see if there are alternative ways to interact (e.g., curbside pick-up).