All businesses and organizations are currently required to have a COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan in place. It should outline the specific controls that are (or will be) put into place to make the workplace safer for everyone. Visit COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan for information and a template.
Communicate clearly to employees that the following Infection Prevention and Control Measures (screening, hand washing, cough etiquette, environmental cleaning, and physical distancing) should be used together for optimal effectiveness in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
More details on these general measures can be found on the Stop the Spread page.
Businesses are encouraged to check the signage at entrances often to make sure they are the most current version. Please replace anything old with the latest signage. View the most up-to-date signage on the Printable Signage and Tools page.
Employers are required to actively screen employees, volunteers, students, suppliers, contract workers, and other essential visitors who enter for work purposes, to ensure that no person with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 comes into the facility. This involves collecting and reviewing information to determine whether a person may enter the workplace.
- Actively screen each person using the Ontario COVID-19 Worker and Employee Screening Tool (a PDF version of the screen is also available at this link).
- Active screening may be done in person at the workplace or remotely using telephone, internet (online), email submission or an app prior to entry.
- Screening should occur before or when the person arrives at the workplace at the beginning of their shift or visit.
- Remind staff that they should stay home if they are sick.
- If workers experience mild symptoms after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, employers should follow the Guidance for Employers Managing Workers with Symptoms within 48 Hours of COVID-19 Immunization.
- Ensure that your organization’s screening protocol is clearly communicated. Combine screening procedures with other communication (i.e. OH&S updates, intranet, briefings at meetings, etc.)
- Post signage at all staff entrances reminding employees to be sure that they have completed the screening process before entering. Updated signage is available on the Workplace Printable Posters and Tools page.
- Anyone who does not pass the screening should be advised to:
- not enter the workplace, including those that are outdoors or partially outdoors;
- go home and self-isolate immediately; and
- contact their health care provider or Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 to find out if they need a COVID-19 test and for further instructions.
- Ensure 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.
- To screen patrons, businesses can use the Ontario COVID-19 Customer Screening Tool (a PDF version of the screen is also available at this link) and should continue to post patron screening signage at public entrances. Businesses can develop their own screening signage, but must ensure that it complies with instructions for signage from the Ministry of Health.
- In Step Three of the Roadmap to Reopen, some businesses are required to actively screen patrons before they enter, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. For more details, see the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 Public Health and Workplace Safety Measures website.
Can a business ask customers for proof of vaccination or deny entrance to someone unwilling to prove they are vaccinated?
Businesses seeking to ask patrons about vaccination status should seek independent legal advice about their rights and obligations before taking any action. At this time, vaccination against COVID-19 is not mandatory in Ontario. The Ministry of Health has updated workplace screening protocols for patrons and employees to include guidance for those who are considered fully vaccinated.
Businesses and organizations can adopt their own patron screening process as long as it meets the minimum requirements of Ontario Regulation 364/20, and/or other sector-specific guidelines. However, TBDHU encourages employers to consider the following when implementing patron screening procedures:
- Essential workers who travel outside of Ontario or outside of Canada for work purposes should not be excluded entry on that basis alone.
- Health care workers may have contact with a positive case of COVID-19 in the course of their duties, however this should not be a reason for them to be denied access to a business. Front-line health care workers are highly trained professionals who wear appropriate personal protective equipment to keep themselves safe.
- Healthy household members of health care workers and of those who have traveled pose minimal risk to the public. Household members would have restrictions if:
- they are identified as a high-risk contact to a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 and they are not fully vaccinated. These individuals would be contacted by public health and instructed to self-isolate for a period of time.
- they are a close contact of a traveler who has returned from international travel. If the traveler has/develops symptoms of COVID-19, their household contacts who are not fully vaccinated must self-isolate even if they have no symptoms and have not traveled themselves. If the traveler does not have symptoms of COVID-19, their household contacts who are not fully vaccinated must stay home except for essential reasons, for the duration of the traveler's isolation period. Essential reasons could include going to work, school or child care and essential errands such as groceries, attending medical appointments or picking up prescriptions. Visit TBDHU.com/selfisolation for further details.
- Otherwise, screening questions that ask about “household members” would be far-reaching.
Visit Ontario COVID-19 screening guidance for employers to learn more about workplace COVID-19 screening and how rapid antigen tests can fit into a screening program.
If you have any questions or concerns about screening for COVID-19, call TBDHU at (807) 625-5900 or Toll-Free at 1-888-294-6630 or complete the Contact Us form.
Questions regarding COVID-19 health and safety measures for employees, including employee screening, can also be directed to the MLTSD Health and Safety Contact Centre at 1-877-202-0008.
The Ontario government is offering a rapid testing portal to make it easier for all essential businesses to access free rapid testing for COVID-19. Businesses are encouraged to learn more about the Provincial Antigen Screening Program, and then check their eligibility and apply. The program provides free rapid antigen screening kits to help screen for asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 that might otherwise be missed.
The Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce is providing free rapid antigen tests to small and medium-sized businesses in Thunder Bay with 150 employees or less. Information on this program is found at on the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce website.
Organizations should notify TBDHU before implementing rapid antigen screening via the Contact Us page.
If an individual tests positive on a rapid antigen screen, they are required to self-isolate and get confirmatory testing through an assessment centre. Businesses are not required to report positive results on rapid antigen tests to public health. However, businesses participating in the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce program are to report positive results to the Chamber.
Individuals with a negative result should continue to follow all public health measures.
Should individuals who have been vaccinated for COVID-19 receive a rapid antigen test?
Individuals who have received a COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of whether they received one or two doses, are still able to receive an accurate result from a rapid antigen test. Vaccinated individuals should not be excluded from rapid antigen screening initiatives, as it is unknown at this time if they can still transmit COVID-19 despite being vaccinated.
- Rapid Antigen Screening Factsheet - Government of Ontario
- Ontario COVID-19 screening guidance for employers
- Rapid COVID-19 Tests for Organizations - Government of Canada
- Positive COVID-19 Test Reporting Form - TBDHU
More information on rapid testing for COVID-19 and how it works can also be found on the COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions page.
- Everyone must be practicing physical distancing. Details on what physical distancing is and how to do it can be found on the Physical Distancing page.
- Where business meetings or appointments with clients take place, the number of people permitted in a space is limited to the number that can maintain a distance of 2 metres at all times. All visitors/clients should be actively screened and everyone should continue to practice good hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and wear a mask (even if they are fully vaccinated).
- Where feasible, adjustments to policies and procedures may be put in place to reduce social contact, such as remote working arrangements, flexible hours, staggering start times, use of email and teleconferencing.
- Promote physical distancing in your workplace and post reminders in places where people may be closer than two metres together (e.g. active screening locations, line-ups, entrances and exits). Combine this with other communication (i.e. OH&S, intranet, briefings at meetings etc.).
- Investigate ways of using technology to limit the amount of face-to-face contact, for example video conferencing, to facilitate remote meetings.
- If possible, increase the spatial separation between desks and workstations as well as individuals (e.g. employees, customers) from each other. A two metre separation should be maintained, unless there is a physical barrier (e.g. cubicle wall, Plexiglas window).
- Limit the number of passengers allowed in elevators to the number that can maintain a distance of two metres (with a maximum of three people at one time).
- Avoid crowding in stairwells, hallways and other tight spaces.
- Schedule breaks at different times to avoid large groups.
- Infrastructure Health & Safety Association (IHSA)
- Advice for Hosts and Event Organizers (TBDHU)
- World Health Organization: Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19 (PDF)
Printable Posters and Signage
- Physical Distancing Sign (General) (PDF)
- Distanciation physique (général) (PDF)
- Physical Distancing Sign (In Line) (PDF)
- Distanciation physique (en ligne) (PDF)
- Physical Distancing Sign (Picking Up Take Out) (PDF)
- Distanciation physique (ramassage à emporter) (PDF)
- Physical Distancing Sign (Elevators) (PDF)
- Distanciation physique (les ascenseurs) (PDF)
The Ontario Government currently mandates the use of masks/face coverings in the indoor premises of all businesses and organizations (including a business vehicle), as well as in certain outdoor situations, with some exceptions. TBDHU’s Instruction Letter to Employers, Business Owners and Operators for mandatory masks/face coverings also remains in effect. Where there are differences between the regulation and TBDHU’s instruction letter, whichever is the stricter expectation will be required. For details, visit the Mandatory Masks Directive for Businesses and Organizations page.
Maintaining a physical distance of at least 2 metres from others is an important measure for reducing the spread of COVID-19. However, there may be circumstances where employees are unable to keep this safe distance during the course of their duties.
Current regulations require employees to wear a mask or face covering when they are working in an indoor area (including a business vehicle), unless they are exempt. Masks are not required for staff working in an area that is not accessible to the public and where a physical distance of 2 metres from every other person can be maintained at ALL times, regardless of the presence of a plexiglass or other barrier. *NOTE: Being fully vaccinated DOES NOT exempt an individual from mask requirements. Everyone, regardless of their vaccination status, must continue to wear a mask where required unless they are entitled to one of the six exemptions noted above (see the Who is exempt from wearing a mask? tab).
If a worker is required to come within 2 metres of an unmasked person (ie. a patron, client, or coworker) the employee MUST wear a medical-grade mask and eye protection (PPE).
It is also now highly recommended that staff wear PPE at all times when they are within 2 metres of another person, or ensure there is a plexiglass (or other impermeable) barrier in place. This practice should be followed regardless of whether or not the other person is wearing a mask (even one of medical-grade).
If an employee does not wear PPE and is later deemed to be a close contact of a case of COVID-19, the ‘close contact’ exposure would be considered HIGH-RISK. Anyone with a HIGH-RISK exposure to COVID-19, and who is NOT fully vaccinated, is required to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms and even if they get tested and the result is negative. For detailed requirements for people who are fully vaccinated, visit the Fully Vaccinated page.
*(Note that PPE requirements in healthcare organizations may differ and workers should follow the PPE directions of their employer)
Visit the Masks/Face Coverings page for more information on the proper use and care of masks.
- Promote frequent hand washing by employees, contractors and customers. Details on proper hand hygiene practices can be found on the Hand Hygiene page.
- Display posters promoting hand washing. Combine this with other communication (i.e. OH&S, intranet, briefings at meetings etc.).
- Provide access to hand washing facilities and place hand sanitizing dispensers in prominent locations throughout the workplace, if possible. Make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled.
- Avoid shaking hands with colleagues or clients. Use alternative greetings instead, such as a head nod or wave.
- Remind clients who are children to follow these recommendations and support them to do so.
- Infrastructure Health & Safety Association (IHSA)
Printable Posters and Signage
- General information on cough etiquette can be found on the Cover your Coughs and Sneezes page.
- Display posters promoting cough etiquette. Combine this with other communication (i.e. OH&S, intranet, briefings at meetings etc.).
- Consider providing additional tissues should someone develop respiratory symptoms. If symptoms develop, the person must immediately be separated from others, instructed on proper cough etiquette and sent home (not using public transit, if possible).
Printable Posters and Signage
- For detailed information on cleaning, see the Environmental Cleaning page and the TBDHU resource on Cleaning and Disinfection of Public Spaces.
- Workplaces should follow their organization specific cleaning protocols.
- Identify frequently touched surfaces that may need to be cleaned more often (e.g. doorknobs, handrails, light switches, touch screen surfaces, phones, elevator buttons, computers, desks, lunch tables, kitchens, washrooms, cash registers, seating areas, surface counters, customer service counters, bars, restaurant tables/menus, communal pens, etc.).
- It is also recommended that items be removed if they cannot easily be cleaned (e.g. newspapers, magazines, stuffed toys).
- All waste can go into regular garbage bins that are lined. Employees who handle waste should be careful not to touch any used tissues. They should wash their hands with soap and water immediately after emptying wastebaskets and garbage bins.
- In businesses where dishwashing occurs, normal dishwashing practices should continue to be followed. No special soap is needed.
- In businesses where laundering occurs, normal laundry practices should continue to be followed.
- Introduce more fresh air by increasing the ventilation system’s air intake or opening doors and windows. Avoid central recirculation where possible.