How to keep your employees safe and what to do if there’s a case in the workplace.
Peel moves to Step 3 of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen
Learn about the current measures and how they impact residents, businesses, and public spaces.
Peel Public Health issued a class order under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act to owners of workplaces to exclude probable and confirmed cases of COVID-19 from the workplace, direct them to self-isolate and implement measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 within the workplace.
Calculating capacity limits
The Retail Council of Canada has developed a tool to help you calculate your store capacity during the COVID-19 restrictions. Access the store capacity calculator.
As of September 22, proof of vaccination is required for anyone 12 years or older to enter certain businesses and public spaces.
Proof of vaccination is not required for workers, contractors, repair workers, delivery workers, students, volunteers, inspectors, or others who are entering for work purposes and who are not customers.
Businesses must ensure that they meet the requirements regarding personal identification and proof of vaccination against COVID-19.
Refer to more information from the Ontario government about proof of vaccination for businesses and organizations, including a list of places where proof of vaccination is required for entry.
For some businesses, proof of vaccination is not required for entry, however, choosing to require proof of vaccination may affect other restrictions, such as capacity limits, masks and signage. To learn more, refer to the Ontario government’s plan to safely reopen.
Peel Public Health issued a Letter of Instruction regarding proof of vaccination for organized sports and recreational fitness activities. The letter requires all people 12 or older to provide proof of vaccination or a valid medical exemption each time they enter if they are going participate in organized sports or fitness activities. Learn more about Peel’s Letter of Instruction for indoor organized sports.
Refer to these resources for additional information about proof of vaccination:
- Proof of vaccination information for businesses and organizations from the Ontario government.
- Guidance on proof of vaccination for businesses and organizations from the Ministry of Health.
- Question and answers on proof of vaccination for businesses from the Ministry of Health.
- Ontario Regulation (Reg. 364/20) outlining the responsibilities of businesses during COVID-19, including proof of vaccination.
- Ontario’s Plan to Safely Reopen including proof of vaccination requirements for the next 6 months, and how verifying proof of vaccination can affect capacity limits for certain businesses.
- Signage for your business that indicates proof of vaccination is required for entry, and allows patrons to access their vaccination receipt.
- Ontario Human Rights Commission’s statement on vaccine mandates and proof of vaccine certificates.
Virtual forum recording
On September 28, the Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development, Peel Public Health and Toronto Public Health cohosted the virtual forum: Working with Employment Agencies to Combat COVID-19: Forum for Effective Collaboration for local employment agencies.
The virtual forum was an opportunity for government and local employment agencies to share and collaborate to mitigate the impact of future surges of COVID-19 in workplaces and the community and to continue to protect workers.
To protect the privacy of participants, the discussion between the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, Peel Public Health, Toronto Public Health, and local agencies has not been included in the recording.
Employers are required to understand and follow all requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Reopening Ontario Act and Peel Public Health’s Section 22 Class Order for workplaces. Refer to these resources to understand your health and safety rights and responsibilities.
Employers in Peel should encourage remote work as a first option for worker safety.
Employers are required to create and implement a COVID-19 workplace safety plan that describes the measures and procedures put into place to make the workplace safer for everyone. Discuss and share your plan with everyone in the workplace and ensure workers are trained on the measures outlined in the plan. Post it in a place where workers and visitors will see it and have it available upon request (for example, to inspectors or law enforcement officers).
Make sure your workplace safety plan includes the measures described below:
Health screening for employees and visitors
- Actively screen employees and visitors, including anyone who has been vaccinated, for COVID-19 symptoms and other risk factors at every building entrance before entering the workplace or at the start of a shift. Ensure that the privacy of personal information is protected.
- Get more information from the Ontario government about screening recently vaccinated employees.
- Online COVID-19 screening tools are available for workers and employees as well as customers and visitors.
- Keep a log of all employees and visitors who enter the workplace, including for any in-person meetings or events. This will support contact tracing and must be provided to Peel Public Health upon request.
- Display screening entry signs at all entrances to prevent entry of anyone who does not pass the screening (e.g., if they have symptoms of COVID-19)
Promote physical distancing
- Ensure occupancy of the premises is limited to only as many people as can be accommodated so that 2 metres distancing can be maintained between individuals, except where the sector is subject to other legally binding direction.
- Ensure physical distancing of 2 metres between individuals is maintained in all work areas including in employee lunchrooms, change rooms, washrooms, and outdoor break areas (such as smoking areas).
- Rearrange or remove furniture and workstations to maintain 2 metres of distance between individuals in all shared areas.
- Install physical barriers where practical, especially when 2-metre separation between people cannot be achieved.
- Post physical distancing signs and install markers or directional arrows to ensure a 1-way flow of people.
- Ensure non-essential visitors are not permitted on the premises to reduce crowding.
- Allow employees to work from home for all tasks that can be done remotely to reduce in-person interactions as much as possible.
- Stagger employee start and end times and break times to avoid overcrowding and congregation.
- Inform employees from different households to avoid carpooling to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. If carpooling is the only source of transportation, follow Commute Ontario's carpooling guidance.
Encourage hand hygiene
- Educate employees to maintain good hand hygiene and clean their hands frequently, including before entering the workplace.
- Provide an adequate stock of hand hygiene supplies (e.g., liquid hand soaps, paper towel and hand sanitizers).
- Ensure that hand sanitizers contain at least 60 to 90% alcohol.
Enhance cleaning and disinfection
- Ensure proper and regularly scheduled cleaning and disinfection of tools and workspaces with a focus on regularly touched items and surfaces.
- Highly touched surfaces can include door handles, handrails, counters, tables, cabinet doors, elevator buttons, light switches, faucets, touch screen surfaces, and keypads.
- Provide an adequate stock of cleaning supplies that are effective against COVID-19.
- Ensure workers are trained on the safe and appropriate use of the cleaning and disinfection products used in the workplace.
- Assign tools, equipment, and workstations to a single user if possible, or limit the number of users.
Masks and personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) that provides protection of the eyes, nose and mouth, is required if a worker must come within 2 metres of another person who is not wearing a mask, and is not separated by a plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.
- Provide employees with appropriate PPE including medical grade masks, if the work environment cannot always be adjusted to allow the required 2 meters distance.
- Ensure employees are trained on proper mask use and that masks are used correctly and consistently inside the workplace by all employees and visitors.
- Ensure PPE is disposed in a waste receptacle with a liner and a lid.
- If you need PPE and other supplies to keep your employees and customers safe, access the workplace PPE supplier directory.
- Learn about using masks in the workplace to help ensure you select the right type of masks for your employees.
Under the Reopening Ontario Act, workplace safety plans are required to consider the promotion of the COVID-19 vaccine to workers, outline actions that will be taken for unvaccinated workers and speak to identifying workers’ vaccination status for outbreak prevention and control.
Refer to more information from the Ontario government on vaccination and COVID-19 workplace control measures.
Peel Public Health strongly recommends that workplace safety policies also include an assessment of the risk of COVID-19 exposure in your workplace and whether vaccination may be necessary based on this risk.
If vaccination is determined to be a requirement, include the specific measures that employees must take to provide documentation of vaccination, or written medical proof of their reason for not being vaccinated. Outline how privacy will be protected in the collection of this documentation.
Consider specific plans for infection prevention and control that will help protect unvaccinated employees. These measures may include COVID-19 testing, ventilation, physical distancing, and strict adherence to and enforcement of masks and personal protective equipment. Also consider the specific measures that need to be implemented in the workplace during an outbreak, which may be different for vaccinated and unvaccinated employees.
It’s important that employers seek legal advice on how to address vaccination in their COVID-19 workplace safety plan. Getting legal advice before developing, implementing, or enforcing policies related to vaccination can help employers understand the implications of what they may be asking their employees to do within their employment law circumstances.
Peel Public Health issued a class order under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act that requires employers to take additional measures, to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
Despite a workplace's best efforts to control the spread, workers and others who attend a workplace may test positive for COVID-19 or become exposed to COVID-19.
Peel Public Health is notified of all confirmed cases of COVID-19 through the provincial laboratory system. If there are clusters of cases that could have reasonably been acquired within the same workplace, we contact the employer to conduct an investigation.
Employers can refer to the following information to find out how to manage and report cases of COVID-19 in the workplace, and understand when a workplace must close.
If someone reports that they have symptoms of COVID-19 while at work
- Immediately send them home to self-isolate and get tested.
- Clean and disinfect the individual's workspace, common areas, and other highly touched surfaces (for example door handles, light switches, handrails, countertops).
- Review your workplace safety plan and ensure you're consistently implementing measures to keep employees safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Ensure that you screen employees and visitors for symptoms before they enter the workplace or at the start of a shift.
Employees that were vaccinated within the last 48 hours and have a mild headache, fatigue or muscle ache or joint pain that started after their COVID-19 vaccination can enter the workplace and wear a mask for their entire shift. These individuals should physically distance from others if possible. They should continue to monitor their symptoms and should leave work immediately and seek further medical evaluation if their symptoms:
- Begin to affect their ability to carry out usual activities.
- Are worsening or not improving.
- Develop beyond mild headache, fatigue, or muscle ache or joint pain.
- Last more than 48 hours after they were immunized.
Get more information about managing recently vaccinated employees.
If someone in the workplace tests positive for COVID-19
- Public Health is notified of all positive COVID-19 cases and will contact the person to gather information, provide instructions on notifying close contacts (including contacts in the workplace), and other next steps.
- They must self-isolate for 10 days and not go into the workplace.
- Clean and disinfect the person's workspace, common areas, and other highly touched surfaces (for example door handles, light switches, handrails, countertops).
- Close contacts of the person with COVID-19 must immediately self-isolate for 10 days and get tested unless they are fully vaccinated or previously positive. They should follow these testing instructions to find out when they should get tested.
Close contacts that are fully vaccinated or previously positive, do not need to self-isolate if they do not have symptoms, unless they are otherwise directed by public health. Get detailed instructions for close contacts, including when to get tested, how to properly self-isolate, next steps for your household members and what to do if they are fully vaccinated or previously positive.
1 person tests positive for COVID-19 in the workplace
You're not required to report the positive case to Peel Public Health.
2 or more people test positive for COVID-19 within a period of 14 days or upon notification by Peel Public Health that there is a suspected outbreak
- Immediately notify Peel Public Health at 905-799-7700, or Caledon 905-584-2216. You'll be provided with specific instructions to assist you with managing the cases in your workplace.
- Gather contact information for the workers who tested positive for COVID-19. You’ll be provided with instructions to identify their close contacts in the workplace. Provide this list to Peel Public Health within 24 hours of the request.
- Workplaces with a suspected or confirmed outbreak may be given specific instructions on employee screening using a symptom list provided to you by Peel Public Health. Implement any interventions specific to the circumstances of your workplace that are directed by Peel Public Health.
- Implement any interventions specific to the circumstances of your workplace that are directed by Peel Public Health.
- Notify the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development within 4 days at 1-877-202-0008. You can also e-mail your notice to MLTSDoccillness.firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Notify the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) within 3 days at 416-344-1000 or toll-free at 1-800-387-0750.
- Advise your workplace's joint health and safety committee, health and safety representative, and, if applicable, the worker's trade union.
If someone with COVID-19 has attended a large event where there is a risk of spread to others, Peel Public Health will take the appropriate steps to protect attendees and support contact tracing at these events. Event organizers and venue operators can refer to more information on exposures at large events, including responsibilities related to maintaining and disclosing lists of attendees.
Workplaces are required to implement any necessary interventions as directed by Peel Public Health during outbreak investigations, including closure. These interventions should continue until the time specified in the notice or until the workplace is given further notification in writing by Peel Public Health.
If a workplace is directed to close by Peel Public Health, employers must:
- Close the workplace premises as specified by Peel Public Health.
- Instruct all affected employees to self-isolate. Workers who are isolating are not permitted to work in any other workplace to further restrict spread.
- If a notice of closure has been provided by Peel Public Health, post the notice at the entrance of the workplace in a manner that is noticeable to the public.
Workers of a closed workplace must be instructed as follows:
Workers who don't have symptoms, but have been sent home due to workplace closure must follow the directions described in the written instructions provided by Peel Public Health.
Workers who are self-isolating cannot work in any other workplace during their period of isolation.
Workers should get tested as directed in the written instructions provided by Peel Public Health. Workers who have symptoms or develop symptoms during their isolation period should get tested as soon as possible, even if they have tested negative before, are fully vaccinated or previously positive. All other workers who don't have symptoms but are sent home due to a workplace closure should be tested as directed in the written instructions provided by Peel Public Health. Employers will inform their workers if onsite testing becomes available.
Any worker who tests positive for COVID-19 must notify their employer immediately.
Although businesses are entitled to request a hearing before the Health Services Appeal and Review Board according to the Health Protection and Promotion Act, all involved individuals or corporations are required to follow the notice of closure at the time it is conveyed to them.
Fines of up to $5,000 per individual and $25,000 for corporations may be payable upon conviction for failure to comply with instructions for workplace closure, for each day or part of a day on which an offence occurs or continues.
Resources for employees
We know that coping with COVID-19 can be stressful. The following resources can help support workers during their period of self-isolation:
There are 2 different types of rapid COVID-19 tests, including rapid antigen tests and rapid molecular tests. Rapid antigen testing, also known as antigen point-of-care testing (antigen POCT), is used for quick detection of COVID-19, but is not as accurate as the standard laboratory-based PCR test available at local testing sites.
Rapid antigen testing is considered an additional screening method that can help identify asymptomatic cases of COVID-19.
The Ontario government is offering high-risk communities, organizations, and essential workplaces access to free rapid antigen testing kits. Workplaces that are interested in conducting rapid testing can check their eligibility and apply.
For questions about rapid antigen testing in workplaces, contact Ontario Health at email@example.com.
When to use rapid antigen testing
Rapid antigen tests should only be used for screening purposes in individuals who do not have symptoms of COVID-19. Individuals who have previously been diagnosed with COVID-19 can resume screening testing after 90 days from their COVID-19 infection, based on the on date of their first positive result.
Rapid antigen tests should not be used for:
- Individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19.
- Individuals who have had known close contact with a person who has COVID-19.
- Workplaces that have a COVID-19 outbreak, unless directed by public health.
Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or had close contact with a person who has or may have COVID-19 should not undergo rapid antigen testing. They should get tested at an assessment centre or community testing location with the standard laboratory-based PCR test. Learn more about what to do if you have symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
Rapid antigen tests can be used to enhance routine screening measures, but do not replace public health measures, such as vaccination, symptom screening, physical distancing, use of personal protective equipment, and hand hygiene.
Requirements for workplaces
All positive results from rapid antigen tests are considered preliminary and should be confirmed with a standard laboratory-based PCR test, at a local assessment center or community testing location as soon as possible, and ideally within 48 hours. The follow-up test is used to confirm whether the person has COVID-19.
Ontario’s COVID-19 guidance: considerations for antigen point-of-care testing also includes an overview of organizational responsibilities, as well as a handout for employees that can be used to direct individuals who have a positive COVID-19 rapid antigen test.
What to do after getting a rapid antigen test
If an employee tests positive using the rapid antigen test (preliminary positive result), unless directed otherwise by public health, they should:
- Get a confirmatory standard laboratory-based PCR test as soon as possible, and ideally within 48 hours at a local assessment center or community testing location. Learn more bout getting tested.
- Self-isolate while awaiting the follow-up test result.
- Tell their household members to also self-isolate while waiting for the confirmatory test result. If they are fully vaccinated or previously positive and do not have symptoms, they do not have to isolate, unless they develop symptoms or are or otherwise directed to isolate by public health. Get more information about close contacts or what to do if they are fully vaccinated or previously positive.
If an employee is unable to get a confirmatory standard laboratory-based PCR test within 48 hours of their preliminary rapid test, they are still advised to obtain a COVID-19 test, but may not be able to end isolation early if this test is negative.
If an employee tests negative using the rapid antigen test:
- They can resume work and should continue practising measures such as masking, hand hygiene and physical distancing.
What to do after getting a standard laboratory-based PCR test
Employees who test positive using a standard laboratory-based PCR test (after first getting a positive rapid antigen test):
- Are confirmed to have COVID-19 and will be contacted by Peel Public Health.
- Should disclose that they initially tested positive through their workplace rapid testing program and identify where they work, when they receive the call from Public Health.
- Must self-isolate for at least 10 days and tell the people they live with to self-isolate for 10 days from their last exposure to them, unless they are fully vaccinated or previously positive.
Employees who test negative using a standard laboratory-based PCR test (after first getting a positive rapid antigen test):
- Are confirmed to be negative for COVID-19 (if the standard laboratory-based PCR test was taken within 48 hours of the rapid test).
- Can resume work and should be reminded to continue practising measures such as masking, hand hygiene and physical distancing.
Return to work for employees who test positive for COVID-19
- Employees who test positive for COVID-19 are contacted by public health and instructed to self-isolate for 10 days for mild to moderate illness. They can end their isolation after 10 days provided symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours and they don’t have a fever (temperature less than 37.8 C).
- Employees who test positive for COVID-19 do not require a negative test before returning to work.
- A person who continues to test positive is not infectious. They can return to work if they have completed the self-isolation period as directed by public health.
Learn more about self-isolating.
Return to work for employees who test negative for COVID-19
- A negative test does not automatically clear employees to return to work. This is because the virus may still be incubating and may not have been detected by the test.
- Employees who had close contact with a person with COVID-19 must self-isolate for at least 10 days from their last date of exposure, even if they tested negative. Employees who had close contact with a person with COVID-19 may also need to get tested again, depending on when they were first tested. Refer to the full instructions for close contacts.
- Employees who are fully vaccinated or previously positive and had close contact with a person with COVID-19, but do not have any symptoms, do not need to self-isolate unless otherwise directed by public health. Get more information about close contacts or what to do if they are fully vaccinated or previously positive.
- Employees who test negative with no close contact to a person with COVID-19 should self-isolate until their symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours, any digestive issues (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain) have been improving for at least 48 hours and they do not have a fever (temperature lower than 37.8C without use of medication). If they had no symptoms, they do not have to self-isolate and can return to work.
Return to work for employees with symptoms who do not get tested for COVID-19
Employees who have symptoms of COVID-19 and do not get tested, must self-isolate for 10 days after symptom onset even if they are fully vaccinated or previously positive. They can return to work provided symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours and they don’t have a fever (temperature less than 37.8 C).
The Ontario government is gradually lifting public health and workplace safety measures. For additional information and requirements for businesses and organizations, refer to Ontario's plan to safely reopen. For more information on what is open and closed, refer to Ontario’s public health measures and advice.
Business owners and operators are responsible for continuing to follow any other regulations that apply to their facility. For full details on the responsibilities of businesses operating during COVID-19, refer to Ontario regulation (Reg. 364/20).
Public health and workplace safety measures that employers should have in place to keep employees safe, include screening employees, personal protective equipment, and workplace safety plans.
Access proof of vaccination requirements for your business including how requiring proof of vaccination for entry into your business may affect the capacity limits you have in place.
For local public health and sector specific instructions for settings that are regularly inspected by Peel Public Health, refer to the following sections.
Local business support
Businesses can also access local business support from their municipality:
New rebate available for businesses
The Ontario government is offering rebates to help with fixed costs, such as property taxes and energy bills for your business. Find out if your business is eligible.
Complaints about businesses that do not follow mandatory COVID-19 measures can be reported.
Beware of people who may be posing as inspectors in your premises. Any public health inspectors entering a business would:
- Introduce themselves as inspectors from Peel Public Health or Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.
- Have a photo identification from Region of Peel or the Ministry.
- Have a business card and leave contact information for the operator to follow up.
If you’re unsure whether an individual is a public health inspector, call Peel Public Health to confirm at 905-799-7700, or Caledon 905-584-2216.
If you’re concerned about suspicious behaviour, report this to local police.
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