COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus)

Workplaces and Municipalities

Protect

PROTECT

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Based on the current COVID-19 Response Framework and status level of Protect (yellow), specific requirements will apply to these sector specific settings:

  • Restaurants, bars and food establishments
  • Sports and recreational facilities
  • Meeting and event spaces
  • Retail and malls
  • Personal care services
  • Casino, bingo halls and gaming establishments
  • Cinemas
  • Performing arts facilities

General public health measures and advice for all levels along with standard measures under Prevent (green) are expected to be continued by all businesses, organizations and facilities including the sector specific settings identified.

The mandatory public health measures for businesses, organizations and facilities provide direction on:

Additional details and definitions: Ontario Regulations 364/20

Information Sections

Workplace Sector Guidance
COVID-19 Resources
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Ask a Question

Business-owners with questions are encouraged to call the Stop the Spread hotline at 1-888-444-3659. The hotline is available from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 pm. Monday to Friday.

COVID-19 Resources

Outbreak Management

Screening Tools

Signs/Posters

COVID Safety Measures

Training Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

MANDATORY MASKS: What are my obligations as an employer to meet the requirements for the Ontario regulations on masks/face coverings?

As per Ontario Provincial orders:

The person responsible for a business or organization that is open shall ensure that any person in the indoor area of the premises of the business or organization, or in a vehicle that is operating as part of the business or organization, wears 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.

In addition, employers must be aware of the exemptions to mask wearing. Please see FAQ on exemptions.

MANDATORY MASKS: What are the exemptions to wearing masks or face coverings in the workplace?

As per the Ontario Provincial regulations, an employee is exempt from wearing a mask in indoor spaces when:
• Performing or rehearsing in a film or television production or in a concert, artistic event, theatrical performance or other performance
• They have a medical condition that inhibits their ability to wear a mask or face covering
• They are unable to put on or remove their mask or face covering without the assistance of another person
• Needing to temporarily remove their mask or face covering while in the indoor area:
◦ To receive services that require the removal of their mask or face covering
◦ To engage in an athletic or fitness activity
◦ To consume food or drink
◦ Or necessary for the purposes of health and safety;
• Being accommodated in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005;
• Being reasonably accommodated in accordance with the Human Rights Code; or
• performing 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 from every other person while in the indoor area.

MANDATORY MASKS: Do my employees have to wear a mask while in a company vehicle?

As per the Ontario mask regulation, employees that are in a company vehicle by themselves do not have to wear a mask. If they are travelling with any other workers and are within 2 metres of them, then they are required to wear a mask while in the vehicle.

MANDATORY MASKS: Can I ask my employee for documentation for an exemption from wearing a mask?

As per Ontario Regulation 364/20 it is not necessary for a person to present evidence to the person responsible for a business or place that they are entitled to any of the exceptions set out in the regulation. See FAQ on exemptions.

MANDATORY MASKS: Do employees have to wear a face covering/mask when they are in employee only areas?

No, according to the Ontario Regulation 364/20 if employees are in an area that is not accessible to members of the public and are able to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person while in the indoor area.

MANDATORY MASKS: Where can I access personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks?

Please access the provincial Workplace PPE Supplier Directory for a list of companies that sell PPE and other supplies to keep your employees and customers safe from COVID-19.

MANDATORY MASKS: Is there signage available to post in my business?

Please see the signage available here.

SCHOOL SUPPORT: Does an employee need a negative COVID test to return to work if they are home with a sick child with symptoms and/or is waiting to be tested?

Having a child who is home sick from school (i.e. staying at home due to symptoms and required to be tested) is not an indication for required testing. Employees should only be tested if they are symptomatic themselves or if they have been contacted by Lambton Public Health as a close contact of a positive case.

SCHOOL SUPPORT: What policies should be in place for employees during this time?

Review policies and/or develop policies to support employees of school-aged children in the event they require time off to care for a sick or self-isolating child.

Some key items to include:
• There should be no disincentive for workers or volunteers to stay home while sick or isolating.
• Review policies regarding paid and unpaid leave of absences to support employees if time is required to be taken off.
• Have flexible work policies that allow parents to work from home, at different times or to be able to switch shifts with other staff members.
• Ensure policies reflect the employers legal obligation to accommodate an employee who has to be off work due to COVID-19 illness or is required to self-isolate or has to care for a family member who is ill or is in self-isolation. The following outlines the Ontario’s Human Rights Code obligations of the employer in these situations:
◦ Under the Human Rights Code (Code), an employer may not discipline or terminate an employee who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is perceived to have COVID-19 (because, for example, they are exhibiting certain symptoms). Similarly, an employer may not discipline or terminate an employee if they are unable to come to work because medical or health officials have quarantined them or have advised them to self-isolate and stay home in connection with COVID-19.
◦ The federal government has called for all travellers entering Canada to self-isolate for 14 days upon entry with exceptions for workers who are essential to the movement of goods and people, and that all Canadians, as much as possible, should stay home.
◦ In these circumstances, employer absenteeism policies must not negatively affect employees.
◦ On March 19, 2020, Ontario passed Bill 186, Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020, which allows for job-protected leave without pay to employees under medical investigation, supervision or treatment, or in isolation or quarantine, or who need to be away from work to care for children because of school or day care closures or to care for other relatives, or are affected by travel restrictions, due to COVID-19. The measures are retroactive to January 25, 2020.
◦ Employees who cannot work because of COVID-19 may also be entitled to sick or disability or other leave benefits that may be available from their employer under the federal Employment Insurance (EI) program. Eligible workers with no or limited paid-leave benefits through their employers can apply for up to 15 weeks of EI benefits if they cannot work for medical reasons. Visit the federal government website for more information.
◦ Employees also have other rights under the Employment Standards Act regarding termination (e.g. severance and notice of termination). Visit the Ministry of Labour and Skills Development website for more information. Employees may also have rights regarding termination under common law.

SCHOOL SUPPORT: How can I run a business if key employees may not be able to report to work due to their illness or their child’s illness?

Develop strategies for staff that have school-aged children:
• Build staff capacity by considering cross-functional training especially for critical positions. Cross training staff can help keep your business strong when employees are absent.
• Consider the need to hire additional staff on a temporary or permanent basis.
• Workplaces associated with franchises may want to consider having staff members work out of different locations where necessary.

SCHOOL SUPPORT: Working from home is not a viable option in our workplace (ie. retail or service) setting. What if an employee has to isolate or be off with a child that is ill for 14 days?

Develop strategies for staff that have school-aged children:
• Build staff capacity by considering cross-functional training especially for critical positions. Cross training staff can help keep your business strong when employees are absent.
• Consider the need to hire additional staff on a temporary or permanent basis.
• Ensure policies reflect the employers legal obligation to accommodate an employee who has to be off work due to COVID-19 illness or is required to self-isolate or has to care for a family member who is ill or is in self-isolation. The following outlines the Ontario’s Human Rights Code obligations of the employer in these situations:
◦ Under the Human Rights Code (Code), an employer may not discipline or terminate an employee who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is perceived to have COVID-19 (because, for example, they are exhibiting certain symptoms). Similarly, an employer may not discipline or terminate an employee if they are unable to come to work because medical or health officials have quarantined them or have advised them to self-isolate and stay home in connection with COVID-19.
◦ The federal government has called for all travellers entering Canada to self-isolate for 14 days upon entry with exceptions for workers who are essential to the movement of goods and people, and that all Canadians, as much as possible, should stay home.
◦ In these circumstances, employer absenteeism policies must not negatively affect employees.
◦ On March 19, 2020, Ontario passed Bill 186, Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020, which allows for job-protected leave without pay to employees under medical investigation, supervision or treatment, or in isolation or quarantine, or who need to be away from work to care for children because of school or day care closures or to care for other relatives, or are affected by travel restrictions, due to COVID-19. The measures are retroactive to January 25, 2020.
◦ Employees who cannot work because of COVID-19 may also be entitled to sick or disability or other leave benefits that may be available from their employer under the federal Employment Insurance (EI) program. Eligible workers with no or limited paid-leave benefits through their employers can apply for up to 15 weeks of EI benefits if they cannot work for medical reasons. Visit the federal government website for more information.
◦ Employees also have other rights under the Employment Standards Act regarding termination (e.g. severance and notice of termination). Visit the Ministry of Labour and Skills Development website for more information. Employees may also have rights regarding termination under common law.

SCHOOL SUPPORT: What government supports are in place to help small businesses remain viable and do their part in preventing COVID-19 transmission?

To help all Sarnia-Lambton area businesses navigate these uncertain times that are a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, check out Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership’s website for Government Programs and Resources for Businesses.

MANDATORY SCREENING: How and when do I screen my employees for COVID-19 symptoms?

Starting September 26, 2020, employers must actively screen every worker before they enter the workplace at the start of their shift as described in the instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
• Active screening may be done in person at the workplace or remotely using telephone, internet (online), email submission or an app prior to entry.
• Actively screen each person entering the workplace for work purposes, including workers, volunteers, suppliers and contractors.
• Screening should occur before or when the person arrives at the workplace at the beginning of their shift or visit.
• Use the COVID-19 screening tool for workplaces or ensure that your screening process includes all the questions from the screening tool.
• A screener/screening tool should advise anyone who does not pass the screening:
○ that they may not enter the workplace, including any outdoor, or partially outdoor, workplaces
○ to go home to self-isolate immediately
○ to contact their health care provider or Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000) to find out if they need a COVID-19 test and for further instructions
• Make sure screeners receive information and instruction on how to perform this work safely and what to do if a person must be excluded from the workplace.

MANDATORY SCREENING: What should I do when an employee has COVID-19 symptoms?

As an employer, it is your duty to keep your employees and patrons safe from COVID-19. Here are the specific steps you will need to take if one of your workers has symptoms which may be related to COVID-19, or is diagnosed with COVID-19:

Step 1: Create a Safety Plan
• Use Ontario’s Workplace Safety Plan guidance document

Step 2: Exclude symptomatic workers from the workplace
• If a worker calls in sick or informs you of symptoms, have them take the self-assessment. Ask the worker to follow any recommendations given by the tool, including being tested and self-isolating.
• If a worker shows symptoms in the workplace, they should return home and self-isolate immediately. If the worker cannot leave immediately, they should be isolated until they are able to leave. Have a plan in place to deal with this and train supervisors on how to handle the situation.
• Ask the worker to contact their doctor or Telehealth Ontario at Toll-free: 1-866-797-0000 for further directions about testing and self-isolation.
• If the worker is very ill and requires urgent medical attention, call 911 and let the operator know that the person may have COVID-19.
• Disinfect surfaces that may have been touched by the ill worker as soon as possible. Read Public Health Ontario’s COVID-19 fact sheet about cleaning and disinfection for public settings.
• Self-isolation and return-to-work:
Symptomatic workers who have received a negative COVID-19 test result may return to work 24 hours after symptom resolution. Workers are not required to provide proof of a negative test result to their employers in order to return to work. Lambton Public Health  will require self-isolation for workers who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or who have had close contact with a confirmed case, time frames for isolation will be based on case investigation information.  It is expected that workers who have tested positive abide by public health direction and advice on when they would be considered clear to return to work. 

Step 3: Report to Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development
If you are advised that one of your workers has tested positive for COVID-19 due to exposure at the workplace, or that a claim has been filed with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), you must give notice in writing within four days to the following:
• Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development
• workplace joint health and safety committee or a health and safety representative
• worker trade union (if applicable)
• Additionally, you must report any occupationally acquired illnesses to the WSIB within three days of receiving notification of the illness.
• For more information, please refer to:
• COVID-19 Workplace Outbreak Guidance
• Occupational Health and Safety Act
• COVID-19 and Ontario’s Human Right’s Code

OUTBREAK MANAGEMENT: What determines a workplace outbreak and what process takes place?

Workplace outbreaks are declared when two or more employees test positive for COVID-19 within a reasonable time frame to suspect transmission in the workplace. In this situation, Public Health will isolate cases, test and isolate those who have been exposed, and implement changes to reduce risk of transmission. Workplaces will only be named if public notification will help to identify additional close contacts that cannot be determined through contact tracing. Learn more about contact tracing.
 
While we know it can be concerning to learn about new cases or outbreaks in the community we are encouraging everyone to follow these tips to protect themselves.

Visit our website regularly for more COVID-19 information, resources, and updates: https://lambtonpublichealth.ca/2019-novel-coronavirus/

OUTBREAK MANAGEMENT: What can I do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in my workplace?

All employees should understand and comply with the infection prevention policies and practices in place in their workplaces. Employers should use the risk-informed decision-making guidelines for workplaces and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Employers and employees will need to work together to protect their own health and their clients’ health, as well as deliver essential services.

There are important steps to take. This document will provide information to support all who continue to work in the essential services.

GATHERING LIMITS: What are the gathering limits and where do they apply?

The person responsible for a place of business or facility that is open to the public shall limit the number of persons in the place of business or facility so that every member of the public is able to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person in the business or facility, except where Schedule 2 allows persons to be closer together.
The person responsible for a business or place that is open may only rent out meeting or event spaceif the total number of members of the public permitted to be in all of the rentable meeting or event space in the business or place at any one time is limited to the number that can maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person in the business or place, and in any event is not permitted to exceed,
(a) 50 persons, if the meeting or event is indoors; or
(b) 100 persons, if the meeting or event is outdoors.

People gathering indoors for religious services, rites or ceremonies, and wedding ceremonies or funeral services, can continue to fill up to 30 percent of the capacity of the particular room, as introduced in Stage 2.
More information on gathering limits.

GATHERING LIMITS: What are the gathering limits for funeral ceremonies and receptions?

Funeral Ceremony:
The number of people allowed to attend a monitored indoor funeral ceremony is limited to a maximum of 30 per cent capacity of the ceremony venue.  Monitored funeral ceremonies taking place outdoors will be limited to 100 attendees. For indoor ceremonies, all people must wear a mask or face covering unless exempted. 

Funeral Reception:
The maximum number of people allowed to attend monitored indoor funeral receptions is 50 or monitored outdoor funeral receptions is 100 people.

GATHERING LIMITS: My business provides wedding services, how do I keep patrons and staff safe?

Based on Stage 3 regulations, the number of guests permitted at monitored wedding ceremonies and/or receptions are as follows:

Indoor:
Ceremony: Wedding, funeral or religious service
This section applies to gatherings for the purposes of a wedding, a funeral or a religious service, rite or ceremony, if the gathering is held in a building or structure other than a private dwelling.

No person shall attend a gathering to which this section applies unless the following conditions are met:
1. The number of persons occupying any room in the building or structure while attending the
gathering must not exceed 30 per cent of the capacity of the particular room.
2. All persons attending the gathering must comply with public health guidance on physical
distancing.

Reception: Wedding, funeral or religious reception
1. The number of persons occupying any room in the building or structure while attending the
gathering must not exceed 50 people.
2. All persons attending the gathering must comply with public health guidance on physical
distancing.

Outdoor:
Ceremony: Wedding, funeral or religious service
This section applies with respect to outdoor gatherings for the purposes of a wedding, a funeral or a religious service, rite or ceremony.

No person shall attend a gathering to which this section applies unless the following conditions are met:
1. No more than 100 people may be in attendance.
2. All persons attending the gathering must comply with public health guidance on physical
distancing.

Reception: Wedding, funeral or religious reception
No person shall attend a gathering to which this section applies unless the following conditions are met:
1. No more than 100 people may be in attendance.
2. All persons attending the gathering must comply with public health guidance on physical
distancing.

Note:
• People at their place of work, including performers and crews, do not count towards gathering
limits.
• Indoor events and gatherings cannot be combined with an outdoor event or gathering to increase
the applicable gathering size.

Safety recommendations:
• Masks or face coverings are required by all staff and patrons in indoor public spaces. If physical distancing is not possible outdoors then masks or face coverings are recommended.
• Ensure both staff and patrons are aware that they cannot enter the establishment if they are ill or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
• For both indoor and outdoor ceremonies, those attending must follow proper health and safety advice, including practicing physical distancing from people who are not from the same household.
• Encourage hand washing prior to entering establishment and before food consumption.
• Practicing proper respiratory etiquette (e.g. cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue that must be immediately discarded)
• Maintain physical distancing – ensure two meters/six feet between all persons. 
• Patrons must be seated to ensure no standing or congregating in groups. Service to standing customers (e.g. in bar areas) is prohibited.
• Establishments must take appropriate measures to ensure physical distancing of at least two metres between patrons from different tables, unless separated by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.
• Buffet-style service is not yet permitted in Stage 3.
• Singing or music may be performed by a person or group, with restrictions, including barriers between the performers and patrons and physical distancing.
• Dancing may only be performed by someone working at the establishment with restrictions.

For catered wedding receptions that include serving of alcohol and food, please refer to the Food Premise Guidance for complete COVID-19 prevention protocols and provincial regulations.

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