COVID-19: Businesses & Workplaces
Businesses who have questions about reopening, 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. Help is available 8:30 am - 9:00 pm Monday to Friday and 8:30 am - 5:00 pm Saturday and Sunday.
Additionally, there is a four-week hotline service called the Business Resilience Service. This is a national, bilingual service operated by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to help entrepreneurs and small business owners in need of financial planning advice, particularly those who may not have access to an accountant. The service will also be open to not-for-profit organizations and charities. Small business owners with pressing financial needs can call 1-866-989-1080 (toll-free) seven days a week, from 8 am - 8 pm.
Issued on May 14, 2020: The Ontario government announced that additional seasonal services and activities will be permitted to open Saturday, May 16, 2020. Furthermore, additional businesses and services will be permitted to open or expand their services on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, provided that the general trend on health indicators continues to improve.
Issued on May 6, 2020: The Ontario government is allowing all retail stores with a street entrance to provide curbside pickup and delivery, as well as in-store payment and purchases at garden centres, nurseries, hardware stores and safety supply stores.
Preparing to open
To prepare your workplace, consider the following actions:
- Implement business continuity plans and policies as appropriate
- Explore the flexibility of policies and practices, such as teleworking arrangements, flexible hours, staggering start times, use of email and teleconferencing.
- Identify possible work-related exposure and health risks to your employees and how to reduce these risks
- Provide physical barriers (ex: plexiglass dividers) where necessary
- Mark 2-metre spaces for lines and seating in common areas
- Limit the number of customers permitted in the workplace at one time
- Dedicate specific hours for customers who are at high risk such as seniors, people with disabilities, or those who are immunocompromised
- Encourage contactless methods of payment or provide sanitizer for workers between each cash transaction
- Ensure supplies such as soap, tissues and alcohol-based hand sanitizer are available
- Prepare for possible increased numbers of employee absences due to illness in employees and their family members and/or dismissals of early childhood programs and schools
- Establish a process for ongoing communication with employees and business partners
- Post signage to alert workers of any signs and symptoms of acute respiratory illness
- Display posters (below) promoting hand-washing and respiratory hygiene
- Take precautions for social events
Review a list of companies that sell personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies to keep your employees and customers safe from COVID-19 on the government of Ontario website.
Prevention of COVID-19
There are many things that workplaces can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19, particularly by facilitating proper hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and physical distancing. Provide access to and adequate supplies for handwashing (soap and water), and alcohol-based hand sanitizers at multiple, prominent locations in the workplace. Implement physical distancing (maintaining a distance of at least 2 metres from other people), to the greatest extent possible. This could include using the telephone and video conferencing rather than meeting face-to-face, including in the same building.
- Employers should screen employees, customers, clients and volunteers before entering the business to ensure that no person with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 enters the facility. It should be done over the phone, upon arrival, at entrances and regularly throughout the day.
- It is up to individual workplaces to determine their screening approach. Screening can be done actively or passively. Active screening is recommended for facilities that work with vulnerable populations (e.g., seniors or retirement homes, daycares, health care settings, communal living spaces), and passive screening for facilities working with the general public.
- Passive screening involves placing a sign at all entrances and asking people that enter to screen themselves by reading the sign and answering the questions before entering.
- Active screening involves having a designated staff person ask the screening questions before allowing someone to enter. These questions could include the following:
- Are you experiencing any of these common symptoms that may be related to COVID-19:
- fever (38°C / 100.4°F and over), a new or worsening cough, shortness of breath;
- or other symptoms such as: sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, hoarse voice, difficulty swallowing, new loss of smell or taste, digestive issues (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain)?
- Less common symptoms of COVID-19 are also listed on the self-monitoring page.
- Have you travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days?
- Have you been in close contact with someone who has or is suspected to have COVID-19?
- Anyone who answers “YES” to any of these questions should be advised to self-isolate immediately and call the health unit at 705-267-1181 for further instructions.
Any worker who feels ill should be sent home immediately to self-monitor and self-isolate. They should call their primary care provider, the health unit at 705-267-1181 or Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000. Additionally, employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and follow recommendations on how to reduce the spread.
Parks and recreation
Personal and animal services
Tourism and hospitality
Find COVID-19 support and other programs and services on the Government of Canada website