COVID-19 Information: Workplaces, Employers, Employees

Roadmap to Reopen: Effective January 5, 2022 at 12:01 am, the Ontario government is temporarily moving the province into a modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen due to recent trends that show an alarming increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations. Time-limited public health measures, including reduced capacity limits, will be in effect during this time. Please continue to follow all public health measures, advice and restrictions

See the Province's  news release for full details, or visit the  COVID-19 public health measures and advice webpage. 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.

Resources:

PDFs from the Step-by-Step COVID-19 Prevention Toolkit
Proof of vaccination information for businesses and organizations

Beginning January 4, 2022, Ontarians will be required to use their vaccine certificate with official QR code to access businesses & settings that are under the provincial proof-of-vaccination system to show being fully vaccinated. (Note: Fully vaccinated means that it has been at least 14 days since you received your second dose). 

Valid personal ID is also required to confirm identity. Photo identification is not required.

Businesses and organizations are required to check for proof of vaccination must use the Verify Ontario app. Checking vaccine certificates visually will no longer be allowed.

Businesses must accept both electronic and paper versions, as long as they have the official QR code.

Beginning January 10, 2022, organizations and businesses that are under the provincial proof-of-vaccination system will no longer accept physician notes. Those who have received medical exemptions and clinical trial exemptions will require a certificate with a QR code.

For more information, visit the Ontario Government's Proof of vaccination information for businesses and organizations webpage.

HPPH Recommendations for Employers

As of October 4, 2021, Dr. Klassen’s previous Letter of Instruction (issued November 2020) expired due to provincial legislation encompassing similar requirements. However, HPPH issued the below recommendations as an update to the letter of instruction. The document below provides clearer direction to businesses and organizations on what is required under Ontario Regulation 364/20 and includes additional recommendations HPPH feels are necessary to prevent outbreaks and COVID-19 transmission in local businesses and organizations.  HPPH’s recommendations will be reviewed regularly and amended based on community risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Rapid Antigen Tests

Provincial Antigen Screening Program:

  • The Provincial Antigen Screening Program is a program that allows employers to add an additional safety measure in workplaces to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Participating in rapid, on-site testing may facilitate the identification of an individual infected with COVID-19 in the workplace, and may prevent asymptomatic individuals from unknowingly spreading COVID-19 in the workplace.
  • For more information, refer to the Antigen Screening Program FAQ document. 
Employee and patron screening

The person responsible for a business or organization that is permitted to be open must screen workers for COVID-19 before they go to work or start their shift each day. Additionally, businesses and organizations that are permitted customers at this time, must at minimum be passively screening patrons; however, active screening of customers prior to entry is considered a best practice. The Ministry of Health online screening tools issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health can be found at the links below:

It is recommended that you consult with the Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development (1-877-202-0008), who may have further requirements for your workplace. 

Supporting mental health 

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused anxiety, distress and other strong emotions in individuals, families, workplaces and communities across the globe.

To support mental health in the workplace, review Managing Through COVID-19 [Ottawa Public Health] for recommendations on how to protect and support mental health and safety.

Visit our COVID-19 and mental health page to learn more about local help available and other mental health resources for individuals.

 Safety: General sector-specific guidance

Learn how to develop your COVID-19 workplace safety plan.

Ontario has released safety guidelines for specific sectors to protect workers, customers and the general public from COVID-19 as it prepares for a gradual reopening of the provincial economy. Please see the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 Guidance: Essential Workplaces as well as sector-specific guidance below.

Guidance notes

Please see the provincial guidance notes for the following sectors:

  • Construction
  • Food processing
  • Restaurant and food services
  • Agriculture
  • Manufacturing

Guidance documents from Health and Safety Associations

Sources:

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety is offering Pandemic COVID-19 tip sheets for the following sectors.

  • airline and ground crews
  • construction
  • daycares
  • emergency and patient intake
  • first responders
  • food processing
  • home delivery and couriers
  • long-term care
  • manufacturing
  • mining
  • retail
  • transportation
  • work camps

Each document offers health and safety tips and good practices, for both employers and workers, specific to each industry or sector. Organizations and businesses can adopt this guidance to protect their workers and prevent the spread of infections.

Healthcare workers

In addition to the province's support for workers, visit the Ministry of Health's guidance for the healthcare sector as well as our information page for health professionals.

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

Food premises operators

Please see the latest information and guidance for Food Premises Operators.

Personal service settings

Please see the latest information and guidance for operators of Personal Service Settings.

Frequently Asked Questions

For questions about self-isolation requirements and what to do if an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, or has been identified as a close contact of a confirmed or probable case (as notified by public health), see our COVID-19 Self-Isolation Information webpage. 

What if my workplace is not following public health directions related to COVID-19?
  • Review Ontario's list of essential workplaces as well as your employee rights to safety and emergency leave.  
  • HPPH staff will follow up when issues of non-compliance are observed or received by way of complaint. Where additional provincial or federal recommendations or orders must be followed, public health will work with applicable agencies when required.

  • 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 also have the right to contact the provincial Health and Safety Contact Centre.
Do employees need to wear eye protection at work?
  • HPPH strongly recommends that ALL workplaces ensure employees wear eye protection (i.e. face shield, goggles or safety glasses) in addition to wearing masks when physical distancing (6 ft/2 m) cannot be maintained.
  • Wearing a mask does not necessarily rule out exposure to COVID-19. With the increasing contagiousness of Variants of Concern (VOC), the use of proper eye protection is critical to reduce the risk of exposure.
  • If employees do not wear eye protection, and a case of COVID-19 is identified in the workplace, there can be a significant impact to your workforce (i.e. large cohorts of workers being dismissed as high-risk contacts).
What if my employee has been exposed to COVID-19?

For more information about isolation requirements visit the COVID-19:Self-isolation Information webpage. 

For more information about COVID-19 testing visit the COVID-19:Testing, tracing and results webpage.

What if someone in our workplace has travelled outside the country?

Employers are obligated to ensure a healthy and safe workplace for all of their employees. 

What information can I share with my staff?

  • Ensure the information you share with your staff is from a credible source.
  • Support the mental health of your staff during this very stressful time. Share local mental health supports or call 211.
  • Remind staff to stay home when they are sick.
  • Provide regular communications to your staff via email or teleconference.
  • Remind staff to use resources available to them like an employee assistance program (EAP). 
  • Encourage staff to take care of themselves and work on reducing stress and anxiety by:
    • taking regular breaks
    • being active daily
    • eating a variety of healthy foods
    • getting adequate sleep
    • relaxing and limiting screen time where possible.