COVID-19: Congregate Living Settings

This information is intended for a range of congregate living settings such as homeless shelters, group homes, supportive housing and other congregate living settings. As facility operators and leaders providing much-needed services, there are steps that you can take to protect the people that rely on their services and the staff and volunteers working there.  This information will help your organization assess your needs and implement strategies to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission and manage cases and outbreaks of COVID-19 in your facility.  This advice aligns with the following provincial guidance documents.

Foundations of COVID-19 Prevention and Control for Congregate Living Settings (May 7 2020, posted July 8, 2020) – Webcast

The Ministry of Children Community and Social Services has provided guidance on Resuming Visits in Congregate Living Settings (June 2020)


Infection Prevention and Control Measures

In addition to general infection prevention and control measures that should be followed, below are additional ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.


Promote Safer Drug Use 

  • Talk with harm reduction partners about the continuity of harm reduction supplies and addiction services for your clients.
  • Encourage clients not to share items that come into contact with the mouth or nose (e.g. drug use equipment, cigarettes).
  • Share information on safer drug use during the COVID-19 outbreak (PDF).
  • Plan and prepare for involuntary withdrawal or overdose if it occurs in your setting.

Printable Resources


Manage and Isolate Symptomatic Individuals

Anyone with severe symptoms should be transported to the hospital via EMS.


    Plan for Early Detection and Management of an Outbreak 

    • Work with your local public health unit to put a plan in place for detecting and managing a potential COVID-19 outbreak in your facility. 
    • An outbreak within a congregate living setting is defined as one laboratory-confirmed case in a resident or staff. Outbreaks are declared by the local medical officer of health. 
    • Once an outbreak has been declared, the local public health unit will provide direction to help manage the outbreak.


    For more information or advice, contact:


    Additional Resources

      Last Updated: 10/07/2020