COVID-19 Information for Workplaces and Employers

COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that can cause respiratory illness. For general information and the latest community updates about COVID-19, visit Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update. This page is being kept up to date with information about  how to protect yourself and your employees during COVID-19; please subscribe for updates or check back often.

The province has launched a toll-free line 1-888-444-3659 to provide support to Ontario businesses who have questions about the province's recent emergency order to close at-risk workplaces following recommendations by Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health. Learn more at Ontario's list of essential workplaces.

For fact sheets, posters, and signs, visit our COVID-19 Response Resources page.

 Employers, workplaces, and operators

For general information:

Toronto Public Health's 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance for Workplaces / Businesses and Employers

Preventing COVID-19 in the workplace: Advice for employers, employees and essential service workers [Public Health Agency of Canada]

For a case of COVID-19 identified in Huron or Perth, Huron Perth Public Health conducts public health follow-up of close contacts, including any workplace exposures and will contact your organization or premises as needed.

Who needs to self-isolate?

The following are the current recommendations from Huron Perth Public Health:

Self isolation scenarios for workplaces (excluding healthcare and long-term care homes – see separate advice)

For more information on how to self-isolate, and more self-isolation scenarios, visit our self-isolation information page.

Healthcare workers

On March 19, 2020, the Chief Medical Officer of Health issued new guidance regarding Managing Health Worker Illness and Return to Work COVID-19.

Dr. Miriam Klassen, Medical Officer of Health for Huron Perth Public Health, has highlighted the new recommendations below:

  • With regard to travellers who are returning from outside of Canada, HPPH reminds everyone that the Premier of Ontario has declared an Emergency AND furthermore, the Chief Medical Officer of Health has provided direction that all travellers returning from outside of Canada self isolate for 14 days.
  • Healthcare workers who have travelled outside of Canada within the last two weeks are to self-isolate for a period of 14 days, starting from their arrival back in Ontario. Health Care Workers should not attend work if they are sick. If there are particular workers who are deemed critical by all parties (including the employer) to continued operations, I recommend that these workers:
    • undergo regular screening
    • use appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the 14 days
    • undertake active self-monitoring, including taking their temperature twice daily to monitor for fever, and immediately self-isolate if symptoms develop 
    • self-identify to their occupational health and safety department.

For information on how to self-isolate, visit our self-isolation information page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do if I’m concerned my workplace is not following public health directions and recommendations related to COVID-19?

  • As of March 26, an Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act requires any person entering Canada by air, sea or land to self-isolate for 14 days whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19. There are a few exceptions, please see Public Health Agency of Canada's latest instructions for travellers.
  • The province of Ontario has released the list of essential workplaces in response to COVID-19 (2019 novel coronavirus). If you have questions about what will be open or impacts to your business or employment, call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.
  • Public health does not have the authority to direct employers or employees who are not following provincial or federal recommendations at this time.
  • We encourage employees with concerns to share credible information and the latest recommendations from the Ministry of Health and Huron Perth Public Health with your workplaces. Other options you have include:
    • Review your workplace policy & procedures
    • Speak with your HR manager or consult with your health and safety committee, if applicable
    • You always have the right to call the Ministry of Labour to discuss your concerns.

 

How do I know if a workplace is considered an essential service that can stay open under the emergency order?

Read the province of Ontario's list of essential services. Please note that this order does not preclude the provision of work and services by entities not on this list either online, by telephone or by mail/delivery. If you have questions about what will be open or impacts to your business or employment, call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.

 

What if a workplace is in violation of an emergency order made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act?

Police are responsiblefor enforcing emergency orders under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. Please note that some public health directions are strong recommendations, but may not be part of an emergency order.

Local police:

 

What do I need to know if anyone in our workplace has travelled outside of Canada?

Employers are obligated to ensure a healthy and safe workplace for all of their employees. Events and recommendations from government and health officials are changing rapidly. It is best to keep updated with the latest information, follow the latest travel recommendations and inform your staff.

Before travelling:
Please note: the Government of Canada has issued a Global Travel Advisory. They are advising Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice.

Returning to work after travel:

 

What information can I share with my staff?

 

What should I be doing to make sure my staff know what they are supposed to do?

  • Provide regular communications to your staff via email or teleconference.
  • Remind staff to use resources available to them like an employee assistance program (EAP). 
 Social Distancing in the workplace

How can employers support their employees to practice social distancing?

Social distancing involves taking steps to limit the number of people you and your employees come into close contact with. Some examples of social distancing measures for employees include:
• Working from home
• Working flexible hours
• Staggering start times
• Limiting the number of patrons/clients your employees would have close contact with (e.g. fewer scheduled appointments, limited number of patrons in a store at any one time).
• Provide space (ideally 2 metres) between colleagues, employees and patrons (e.g. moving desks, or adding barriers to counters, etc.).
• Provide adequate hand washing stations and hand sanitizer for your employees.
• Continue to clean and sanitize your workplace to prevent the spread of germs.

How can social distancing be practiced in a small business?
Any strategies that limit the number of people you come into close contact with and increase the distance between people (ideally 2 metres); for example:
• Increase the space between employees and patrons at counters by using screens or barriers;
• Limit the number of patrons in the store at any one time;
• Limit the hours of operation; and
• Notify customers of the social distancing measures you are taking by posting these on the front door.

 Food Premises Operators
On March 17, 2020, the Government of Ontario declared an emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. As a result of this declaration, a number of establishments were required to close immediately.

As a food premises operator your business may be impacted by the closure of the following:

  • All bars and restaurants, except to the extent that such facilities provide takeout food and delivery;
  • All theatres including those offering live performances of music, dance, and other art forms, as well as cinemas that show movies; and
  • Concert venues

This means that if you operate a food premises you are not permitted to provide a dine-in option. Your establishment can remain open only if you can provide take-out or delivery options limiting social interactions between people. Learn more at COVID-19: Information for Food Premises Operators / Business Owners. Also see the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 Guidance for Food Premises and the updated COVID-19 Guidelines: Take-out and Delivery.

 Personal Service Settings 

On March 23, 2020, the Ontario Government ordered the mandatory closure of all non-essential businesses, starting at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24. The order was based on the advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

This order includes all personal service settings (e.g. hair salons, tanning beds, spa, nail salons and tattoo shops, etc.).  Due to this updated information, you are required by the Ontario Government to close your business for 14 days or otherwise directed by the Ontario Government.  It is important that you continue to monitor the situation and we will do our best to provide updates as new information becomes available. Subscribe to our COVID-19 web page to receive the latest updates: www.hpph.ca/coronavirus.

If you have any questions, please contact Huron Perth Public Health by email at inspections@hpph.ca.

Due to the high volume of calls we are currently receiving, email is the best method. However if you are unable to email, you can contact us at 1-888-221-2133 or 519-482-3416 press 1, and then ext. 2069.

Page updated: March 27, 2020 | 1600