COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus)

Workplaces and Municipalities

Control

CONTROL

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Effective February 22, at 12:01 a.m., Lambton County is moving to the status level Control (Red) with strengthened measures in place based on the COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open. The strengthened measures require sector-specific restrictions in order to apply public health measures in high risk settings. For specific details for each sector refer to the Framework- Red Zone and the O. Reg. 263/20.

The sectors that these measures apply to are as follows:

  • 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

See sector-specific measures for more information.

Mandatory public health measures that must continue for all businesses include the following:

Businesses who have questions about closures of at-risk workplaces or how emergency measures impact their business or employment can call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.

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 p.m. Monday to Friday.

COVID-19 Resources

Outbreak Management

Screening Tools

Signs/Posters

COVID Safety Measures

Training Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

MANDATORY SCREENING-EMPLOYEES & ESSENTIAL VISITORS: How and when am I required to do this screening for my business?

Every workplace is required under the provincial regulations to actively screen every worker and essential visitor before they enter the workplace. The following resources are to be used. Full details are provided in these documents. In addition, screening is a key component of the required Safety Plan (screening information for businesses under Question 2 in this link).
Employee Screening:
COVID-19 worker and employee screening tool (Online) – Ministry of Health
COVID-19 Screening Tool for Businesses and Organizations (PDF) – Ontario Ministry of Health

MANDATORY SCREENING: CUSTOMERS- When am I required to screen my customers?

All businesses in public health unit regions that have returned to the framework must implement passive screening for patrons (for example, posting signs outside the store front about not entering if they have COVID-19). The following resources will assist you with this. 
Passive Customer Screening – Ministry of Health
Passive Customer Screening- Questions for Signage – Ministry of Health
 
Some businesses are required to conduct active screening of patrons/customers before they enter the businesses. This Screening Tool outlines what businesses apply to this and in what zones and how to conduct this in-person or onlineNOTE: Malls are required to conduct active screening of patrons/customers in all zones.

CAPACITY LIMITS: What are the capacity limits for my business that is permitted to remain open?

All businesses or facilities must limit capacity so that every member of the public is able to maintain two metres of physical distancing from every other person.
Additional capacity limits apply for businesses or facilities in:

Red-Control:
• 75% for supermarkets and other stores that primarily sell groceries, convenience stores, pharmacies
• 50% for all other retail, including, but not limited to discount and big box retailers, liquor stores, hardware stores and garden centres

Grey-Lockdown:
• 50% for supermarkets and other stores that primarily sell groceries, convenience stores, pharmacies
• 25% for all other retail, including, but not limited to discount and big box retailers, liquor stores, hardware stores and garden centres

Some businesses or facilities have additional capacity restrictions. Where additional capacity restrictions are in place, it is noted in the sections for each zone and respective sector. 
 
See Retail FAQs for specific capacity limits for each different retail business and how to calculate the capacity

I have health and safety concerns about my workplace. What are my next steps?

If you have health and safety concerns at your workplace you first must report them to your supervisor. You may also wish to contact your health and safety representative/ committee.  Employees have the right to refuse work* that they believe is unsafe. Follow the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development procedure for work refusal.  If your concerns continue you can file a complaint with the Ministry by calling toll-free at 1-877-202-0008.

Some businesses, including all those operating during a lockdown or shutdown, must have a written COVID-19 safety plan that outlines how to keep employees safe and what to do in the event of an outbreak.  This safety plan must be made available if requested and should be posted in a conspicuous location in the workplace. Review your workplace safety plan to understand what safety precautions and protocols are in place at your workplace.  


*(Note: some exceptions include where a work refusal would endanger the life, health and safety of another person and would involve persons such as first responders, correction services, certain healthcare personnel etc.).

COVID-19 and workplace health and safety – Ontario Ministry of Labour
Right to Refuse Work – Ontario Ministry of Labour
Human Rights Questions and Answers – Ontario Human Rights Commission

SELF-ISOLATION AND RETURN TO WORK: What are the steps to take for an employee to return to work after self-isolating?

To help stop the spread of COVID-19 and prevent outbreaks, refer to the Ontario Self-Isolation and Return to Work guidance to understand when employees can return to work.

Who do I contact about a workplace not following COVID-19 rules?

Public Health and Enforcement Calls

MANDATORY MASKS AND EYE PROTECTION: When are employees/staff required to wear face coverings and eye protection?

Masks and face coverings are required to be worn by all staff in all public spaces. Masks must be worn in employee only areas if distancing of 2 metres cannot be maintained (such as in kitchens/staff rooms).

Eye protection (face shields or goggles) in addition to face masks must be worn by staff when 2 metres cannot be maintained between themselves and patrons that are not wearing masks. For more information about masks see Mandatory Masks FAQs.

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

As per the Ontario Regulation 82/20, employees must wear a mask when travelling in a vehicle.
In situations where an employee is required to come within 2 metres of another person who is not wearing a mask or face covering (indoors) and is not separated from the person by an impermeable barrier (e.g. Plexiglas) the employee must also wear protective eyewear (e.g. goggles, faceshield).

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

As per Ontario Regulation 82/20 and O. Reg. 10/21:

Every person in the premises of a business or organization that is open shall ensure that they wear a mask or face covering that covers their mouth, nose and chin, when they are in indoor areas of the premises, with limited exemptions (refer to FAQ on mask exemptions).
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.

Eye protection (e.g. goggles/faceshield) is also required if a worker is required to come within 2 metres of another person who is not wearing a face covering and not separated by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.
Further, businesses or places must not permit patrons to line up inside the businesses or place, or to line up or congregate outside of the business or place unless they are maintaining a physical distance of at least two metres from other groups of persons and wearing a mask or face covering that covers their mouth, nose and chin unless they are entitled to an exception set out in the regulation.
In addition, employers must be aware of the exemptions to mask wearing. Please see FAQ on exemptions.

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.

In situations where an employee is required to come within 2 metres of another person who is not wearing a mask or face covering (indoors) and is not separated from the person by an impermeable barrier (e.g. Plexiglas) the employee must also wear protective eyewear (e.g. goggles, faceshield).

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.

SAFETY PLAN: What businesses must develop a safety plan and what are the requirements for these?

All businesses open are required to prepare and make available a COVID-19 safety plan. A copy of the plan shall be made available to any person for review upon request, and be posted where it would come to the attention of individuals working in or attending the business.  For specific details see Ontario Regulations 82/20: Schedule 1: Section 5.
 
• the safety plan is prepared and made available, that complies with the  requirement no later than seven days after the requirement first applies
• the safety plan shall describe the measures and procedures which have been implemented or will be implemented in the business, place, facility or establishment to reduce the transmission risk of COVID-19.
• the safety plan shall describe how the requirements of provincially mandated orders will be implemented in the location including screening, physical distancing, masks or face coverings, cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and objects, and the wearing of personal protective equipment.
• the safety plan shall be in writing and shall be made available to any person for review on request.
• a copy of the safety plan is posted in a conspicuous place where it is most likely to come to the attention of individuals working in or attending the location.

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?

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. This regulation has been amended to extend the temporary rules to July 3, 2021. 

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.

POSITIVE EMPLOYEE: My employee tested positive for COVID-19. Now what?

Please refer to Question 4 of the provincial COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan 
To support decision making for symptomatic employees refer to this guide.

EMPLOYEE TESTING: When and how should employees be tested for COVID-19?

As of November 20, 2020: Ministry of Health COVID-19 Provincial Testing Guidance.
 
Testing Criteria:
 
Any adult presenting with at least one symptom or sign from the COVID-19 Reference Document for Symptoms should be considered for PCR testing for COVID19.
 
Only high-risk asymptomatic individuals or individuals from targeted testing groups or participating in a workplace rapid antigen screening pilot should be considered for testing as follows:
 
 Employees are close contacts of confirmed positive cases:
 Asymptomatic contacts of a confirmed case should be considered for testing at an Assessment Centre within 14 days from their last exposure or notification from the COVID Alert app.
 Contacts who have had ongoing exposure to the case while they have been infectious, or who had similar acquisition exposures as the case, should be tested as soon as possible
 Contacts part of an outbreak investigation should be tested as soon as possible.
 
In the above situations, Lambton Public Health will direct the testing and management process for employees identified as close contacts of a case.
In some circumstances, testing of asymptomatic individuals is directed by a relevant Ministry, and these may or may not be eligible for testing at provincial assessment centres
 
Additionally, Lambton Public Health discourages any requirement for proof of a negative test or medical notes that rule out COVID-19 for employees returning to work. LPH does not currently have the capacity to provide documentation for employees requiring proof of a negative test.
Call us at any time (519-383-8331) during routine hours with questions related to COVID-19 and the workplace, or visit our website for specific resources and information. Thank you for all of your efforts to address COVID-19 as an employer and as a community member.

WORKPLACE TESTING: Can my workplace implement private COVID-19 testing with employees?

Lambton Public Health (LPH) would like to remind workplaces who choose to implement private COVID-19 testing for staff (using either rapid or PCR testing) to do so in consultation with LPH. It is essential that a process is put in place prior to implementation of testing to ensure all results are sent to LPH in a timely manner for us to be able to properly support and follow-up with cases as needed.
Under the Ontario Regulation 135/18 and amendments under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, any suspected or confirmed cases of the diseases of public health significance (including COVID-19) must be reported to the local Medical Officer of Health. Therefore, any positive or suspected case of COVID-19 must be reported immediately to Lambton Public Health. Timely reporting of communicable diseases is essential for their control.
Please note that if rapid testing is being used, any positive results will need to be followed up with PCR testing as per the COVID-19 Provincial Testing Guidance for rapid antigen screening.
Therefore, if your workplace is considering implementing testing or has further questions, please contact us at 519-383-8331 and ask to speak to an operational supervisor.

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.

CAPACITY LIMITS: What are the capacity limits for organized public events, social gatherings, religious services, rites and ceremonies (funerals and weddings)?

In the GREEN, YELLOW and ORANGE zones, the following capacity limits apply:

Limits for certain organized public events and social gatherings such as functions, parties, dinners, gatherings, barbeques or wedding/funeral receptions held in private residences, backyards, or parks, where physical distancing can be maintained:
• 10 people indoors
• 25 people outdoors

Limits for organized public events and gatherings in staffed businesses and facilities, where physical distancing can be maintained:
• 50 people indoors
• 100 people outdoors

Limits for religious services rites or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services, where physical distancing can be maintained (applied in any venue other than a private dwelling):
• 30% capacity of the room indoors
• 100 people outdoors

In RED zone:
Limits for all organized public events and social gatherings:
• 5 people indoors
• 25 people outdoors

Limits for religious services rites or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services, where physical distancing can be maintained (applies in any venue other than a private dwelling):
• 30% capacity of the room indoors
• 100 people outdoors

In GREY zone:
No indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household
• Individuals who live alone, including seniors, may consider having exclusive, close contact with another household to help reduce the negative impacts of social isolation

Limit for outdoor organized public events and social gatherings, physical distancing can be maintained:
• 10 people outdoors

Limits for religious services rites or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services, where physical distancing can be maintained (applies in any venue other than a private dwelling):
• 10 people indoors
• 10 people outdoors

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