COVID-19 Information for Community Partners and Service Providers

Last revised on June 16, 2021 

 

On this page:

  1. Support and encourage behaviours to reduce the spread of germs
  2. Guidelines for food banks, donation centres and volunteers
  3. Guidance for multi-unit dwellings
  4. Landlord guidance document – site visits
  5. Additional resources

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is known to cause infection in the respiratory system. COVID-19 spreads from person-to-person through direct contact or over short distances by droplets through coughing or sneezing. A person may also get COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching their mouth, nose or possibly eyes. Symptoms include fever, cough, difficulty breathing and pneumonia and may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19, although carriers may also show no symptoms. OPH encourages all organizations and agencies to implement their own internal policies for the protection of staff, volunteers and clients.

If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, use the Ontario Government self-assessment tool to help determine how to seek further care.

1. Support and encourage behaviours to reduce the spread of germs

To reduce the spread of germs, OPH recommends that everyone practise physical distancing by maintaining two metres (six feet) from those around you, to limit the number of people you come into close contact with.

It is important to recognize that the COVID-19 situation is evolving very quickly. Please refer to OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus to stay up-to-date on the latest information.

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2.Guidelines for food banks, donation centres and volunteers

Being COVID Wise: Focus on adapting indoor food security programs and services and recorded webinar Sept 11, 2020.

Food banks and food donation centres provide essential services to residents and require continual donations from the community. OPH encourages all organizations and agencies to implement their own internal policies for the protection of staff, volunteers and clients.

The following recommendations aim to provide guidance and reduce risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 with respect to food donations, pick-ups and deliveries to food banks and donation centres:

Reducing the risks of transmissions during operations

Food banks and food donation centres provide essential services to residents and require continual donations from the community. OPH encourages all organizations and agencies to implement their own internal policies for the protection of staff, volunteers and clients.

The following recommendations aim to provide guidance and reduce risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 with respect to food donations, pick-ups and deliveries to food banks and donation centres:

Reducing the risks of transmissions during operations

  • Screen staff, volunteers and clients through phone calls prior to their arrival on site, if possible using the Ontario Government self-assessment tool
      • Staff, volunteers and clients are to stay home if they are sick
      • Arrange for alternate methods of delivery.
      • If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, use the Ontario Government self-assessment tool to help determine how to seek further care
  • Incorporate physical distancing throughout the operation by maintaining a two metre (six feet) separation between people in all scenarios:
    • Consider the installation of a physical barrier at checkout stations (e.g. cubicle, Plexiglas window) to protect staff/volunteers and reduce risks
    • Visitors should be reminded that masks are required in all areas open to the general public.
  • Place signage at entrances and throughout the operation:
  • Review the Ministry of Health - Reference Document for Safe Food Donation

Recommendations for pick-up and delivery of food items

To reduce risks, OPH recommends implementing strategies that encourage physical distancing, including:

  • For pick-up, encourage clients to call ahead to arrange a time to avoid any gatherings of people
    • Schedule volunteers accordingly to reduce the number of people on-site and ensure they are provided with a mask to wear when in the facility.
    • Organize appointments for food pick-up to reduce the number of people on-site at the same time, if possible
    • Upon pick-up, ensure physical distance is maintained
    • To limit interactions with the public for pick-up, staff can leave the packaged food on the counter or set up a table and have an individual pick it up
    • Clean/disinfect high contact surfaces immediately
    • Practise hand hygiene with either soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer immediately after each interaction
    • If line-ups do evolve, support clients to physically distance by providing markings on the floor for two metre (six feet) distance
  • If delivering, food items should be left at the door rather than a face-to-face interaction
    • A knock at the door to alert receiver then walk away
    • Alternatively, place the items at the door and step back or to the side two metres (six feet)
    • Practise hand hygiene with either soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
    • Clean and disinfect high contact surfaces and objects in delivery vehicles, including any re-usable delivery containers, at least twice daily
  • Avoid direct contact with other people. Use non-physical forms of greetings instead of shaking hands.

Recommendations for staff or volunteers carrying food into homes

Given there is community transmission of COVID-19 in Ottawa, please make every effort to avoid the need to enter someone’s home. If a staff or volunteer is required to enter a home, OPH recommends they take appropriate precautions to protect themselves:

  • Always ensure physical distancing:
    • Develop policies where customer unlocks door, moves two metres (six feet) away prior to you entering and then always maintains physical distance for the duration of your visit (i.e. customer remains in another room)
    • Avoid physical contact with clients, use non-physical forms of greeting
    • Minimize the number of people involved in the operation
  • Always ensure proper hand hygiene:
    • Practise hand hygiene with either soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer immediately before and after each delivery
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth unless you have just cleaned your hands
    • Try to limit contact with any surfaces while in the home
  • Use of cloth masks:
    • The use of masks is required in all indoor public spaces to limit the spread of COVID-19 as per the Temporary Mandatory Mask By-Law no. 2020-186 (use cloth masks when commercial surgical masks are in shortage so that these remain available for the health care sector) and when the two metres (six feet) physical distance recommendation cannot be maintained. 
    • Although an individual’s home isn’t a public space, it is an indoor space! OPH recommends that volunteers wear a mask when entering someone’s home.
    • Clean hands before putting on, if needing to adjust, before taking off and after taking off

Environmental cleaning guidance

Commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are effective against COVID-19. The following cleaning and disinfection recommendations aim to reduce the risks associated with surface transmission. Remember to clean surfaces first, then disinfect them.

  • Frequently touched surfaces are most likely to be contaminated. Clean and disinfect these surfaces often
  • Use only disinfectants that have a Drug Identification Number (DIN). A DIN is an eight-digit number given by Health Canada that confirms it is approved for use in Canada.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions on any products being used:
    • Properly prepare solutions
    • Allow adequate contact time for disinfectant to kill germs (see product label)
    • Wear gloves when handling cleaning products, including wipes
    • Wear any other personal protective equipment recommended by the manufacturer
  • In addition to routine cleaning, surfaces that have frequent contact with hands should be cleaned and disinfected twice per day and when visibly dirty

For more information, consult Public Health Ontario’s fact sheet on Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings.

Practise proper glove use

Gloves are not a substitute for proper hand hygiene, as they do not guarantee that foods or surfaces are not contaminated.

Gloves should always be worn when a staff member or volunteer handling food has a break in their skin or has a bandage that is covering a wound. In the event you are wearing gloves:

  • Wash your hands properly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before you put on gloves.
  • Do not touch your face or use any personal items (e.g. cell phone, bag) that you might touch again when you do not have gloves on.
  • When finished with the gloves, throw them out in a closed garbage bin right away and wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Remember:
      • Do not touch your face with your gloves.
      • Do not touch your mask with your gloves (if you are wearing one).
      • Do not touch your personal items (like your phone) with your gloves so you don’t bring the virus home with you!
      • Do not re-use gloves that are made for one use.

General mask use

  • Effective July 7, Ottawa Public Health’s Medical Officer of Health is mandating that all enclosed public space in Ottawa adopt a mask policy to ensure that no member of the public is permitted to enter or remain in the public areas of the indoor public space unless he or she is wearing a mask in a manner that covers their nose, mouth and chin. There are exemptions including (but not limited to) children under two years of age and individuals with medical conditions. 
    • Please read the letter from Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches to business owners and operators – July 6, 2020.
    • Wearing a mask does not replace other protective measures including physical distancing, hand washing, not touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands and self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms and staying home if you are sick. Mask use should be combined with these other protective measures.
    • Wearing any mask helps to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
    • “Mask” means a cloth (non-medical) mask, medical mask or other face covering such as a bandana or scarf, that securely covers the nose, mouth and chin and is in contact with the surrounding face without gapping and filters respiratory droplets.
    • Benefits are increased when masks are worn properly (securely cover the nose, mouth and chin without gapping) and the mask is made of at least two layers of tightly woven fabric.
    • All volunteers, clients and staff should be wearing a mask when indoors
    • Masks should also be worn when outside in circumstances where physical distancing of two metres (6 feet) cannot be maintained.
    • No person should be required to provide proof of evidence of exemption or turned away from indoor spaces if unable to wear a mask.
      • Exemptions include:
        • Children under the age of two or children under the age of five years either chronically or developmentally who refuse to wear a mask and can’t be persuaded to do so;
        • Individuals with medical conditions rendering them unable to safety wear a mask
        • Anyone who is unable to remove the mask without help
        • Anyone who is unconscious or incapacitated
        • Evidence shows that plastic face shields alone are not equivalent to wearing a mask.
        • Physical distancing is still required while wearing a mask and the person responsible for a business or service that is open to the public, must fully ensure that at least two metres (6 feet) of physical distancing is achieved and maintained.

Learn more on masks and face coverings.

Supporting each other and our community

We understand that this is a challenging time, but measures like this are needed to ensure that the spread of COVID-19 in our community is limited.

OPH thanks you for the services you provide to our community.

Resources and References

 OPH resources
Provincial resources
Federal resources

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3. Guidance for multi-unit dwellings

Please view the masks and visitors for congregate living settings Q & A handout (pdf - 349 KB)

Outdoor gatherings are now restricted to a maximum of 25 people and indoor gatherings are now restricted to maximum of 10 people (where physical distancing can be maintained). Please note: Effective October 10, 2020 the Province of Ontario has placed further restrictions on social gatherings, events and other establishments.

  • Capacity limits also reduced to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors for tour guide services, real estate open houses, meeting and event spaces, in-person teaching and instruction where physical distancing can be maintained (with exemptions for schools, childcare centres, colleges, etc.).
  • Indoor and outdoor events or gatherings cannot be merged together (ex. gathering of 35 people, with 25 people outdoors and 10 people indoors is not permissible).
  • Indoor food and drink service in restaurants, bar and other food and drink establishments is now prohibited.
  • The following indoor sites are now closed: gyms and fitness centres (i.e. exercise classes and weight and exercise rooms), casino’s, indoor cinemas, performing arts centres and venues, spectator areas in racing venues, interactive exhibits in museums, galleries, zoos, mall food courts etc.
  • Indoor fitness, exercise or dance classes cannot be provided.
  • The total number of members of the public permitted to be in a class, organized program or organized activity at any facility (including arenas and multi-purpose facilities) cannot exceed 10 people and each class, organized program or organized activity must take place in a separate room.
  • Personal care services, where face coverings must be removed (like makeup application, beard trimming), are now prohibited.
  • Team sports now limited to training sessions only (no games or scrimmages) and no spectators are permitted.

COVID-19 spreads from person-to-person through direct contact or over short distances by droplets through coughing or sneezing. A person may get COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes.

Symptoms include fever (temperature of 37.8°C or greater), new or worsening cough, shortness of breath (dyspnea), sore throat, difficulty swallowing, new olfactory or taste disorder(s), nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, runny nose or nasal congestion (in absence of underlying reason for these symptoms such as seasonal allergies, post nasal drip, etc). It is important to note that those infective with COVID-19 may also show no symptoms. OPH encourages all organizations and agencies to implement their own internal policies for the protection of staff, volunteers and clients.

Currently, there is no evidence that transmission of COVID-19 takes place through ventilation systems.

Practise physical distancing by maintaining two metres (six feet) from those around you. Limit the number of people you come into close contact with; for example:

  • Avoid groups of people or crowds.
  • Take precautions to maintain distance in shared spaces; for example:
    • Avoid crowded elevators (wait for an empty one if you can).
    • Avoid using the mail room or laundry room at the same time as other residents (limiting the number of people will help to maintain physical distancing measures). For more information on how to use shared laundry facilities please refer to the multi-unit dwelling resources.

Visit the OPH physical distancing webpage for other suggestions.

To encourage these precautions, OPH encourages landlords and property managers to post physical distancing signage, as well as the signage found on OPH’s website in different languages that address topics such as handwashing and cough etiquette. 

Physical distancing does not mean emotional distancing. Encourage residents to check in with others by phone or other technology. Take care of your mental health too. It’s ok not to be ok. Please know that help is available. Residents are encouraged to reach out to the Distress Centre of Ottawa at 613-238-3311 if needed. For more general information on Mental Health and COVID-19 and a list of telephone, text and chat mental health services visit the OPH website.

Masks in multi-unit dwellings

Please view the masks and visitors for congregate living settings Q & A handout (pdf - 349 KB)

  • Effective October 3, 2020, the Province updated the Ontario Regulation 364/20 that mandates the use of masks in all public indoor settings across Ontario which includes workplaces. 
  • Building on the current Ottawa Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law, which requires masks to be worn in all publicly-accessed indoor spaces, the new provincial measures now extends this requirement to all indoor areas including those not accessible to the public, where a two metres (6 feet) distance from others cannot be maintained at all times.

Increasing scientific evidence supports wearing a mask when in enclosed shared spaces as an important measure in reducing COVID-19 transmission, while the risk of rising rates of infection continues. For that reason, Ottawa Public Health strongly recommends that building managers, landlords and condominium corporations adopt a policy requiring that all individuals entering or remaining in their common spaces and shared amenities (including but not limited to: entrances, lobbies, laundry rooms, elevators, gyms) wear a mask or face-covering unless they are unable to due to the following exemptions:

  1. Children under two years of age, or children under the age of five years either chronologically or developmentally who refuse to wear a mask and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver;
  2. Individuals with medical conditions rendering them unable to safely wear a Mask, including breathing difficulties or cognitive difficulties;
  3. Individuals who are unable to apply or remove a Mask without assistance, including those who are accommodated under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) or who have protections under the Ontario Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c.H.19, as amended;
  4. A person who is employed by or is an agent of the Operator of an Enclosed Public Space and:
    1. is in an area of the premises that is not designated for public access or
    2. is within or behind a physical barrier (e.g., Plexiglass).

Temporary removal of a mask is appropriate when needed for certain activities that may occur in multi-unit dwellings.  These activities include physical activity, swimming, drinking and eating.

A mask can be a cloth (non-medical) mask, a disposable (non-medical) mask or a medical mask. A face covering can include a bandana, a scarf or a cloth. A mask should securely cover the nose, mouth and chin and be in contact with the surrounding face without gapping and can filter respiratory droplets.

Wearing a mask is not an alternative to physical distancing. Every effort should be made to keep a two metres (6 feet) distance even when wearing a mask.

Additional recommendations for multi-unit dwellings

OPH recommends the following additional actions in multi-unit dwellings:

  • Wear a mask in any internal shared spaces (e.g lobbies, hallways, mail rooms, laundry rooms) and or enclosed spaces open to the public.
  • Promote physical distancing by maintaining two metres (six feet) between persons of different households.
  • Outdoor gatherings are now restricted to a maximum of 25 people (previous limit of 100) and indoor gatherings are now restricted to maximum of 10 people (previous limit of 50).
  • Go about your daily activities while protecting yourself and others by being COVID Wise
  • Be COVIDKind and show compassion and understanding towards individuals who are exempt from wearing a mask due to health, medical or personal reasons.

Environmental cleaning guidance

Commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are effective against COVID-19. The following cleaning and disinfection recommendations aim to reduce the risks associated with surface transmission. Remember to clean surfaces first, then disinfect them.

  • Frequently touched surfaces are most likely to be contaminated. Clean and disinfect these surfaces often (e.g. buzzer systems/kiosks, doorknobs, hand railings, light switches, elevator buttons, etc).

Use only disinfectants that have a Drug Identification Number (DIN). A DIN is an eight-digit number given by Health Canada that confirms it is approved for use in Canada.

  • Refer to Health Canada’s list of hard surface disinfectants for use against COVID-19
  • Refer to Health Canada's Drug Product Database online query to search by product name, active ingredient, company etc.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions on any products being used:
    • Properly prepare solutions
    • Allow adequate contact time for disinfectant to kill germs (see product label)
    • Wear gloves when handling cleaning products, including wipes
    • Wear any other personal protective equipment recommended by the manufacturer
  • In addition to routine cleaning, surfaces that have frequent contact with hands should be cleaned and disinfected at least twice per day and when visibly dirty
  • Remove items from shared spaces that may be hard to clean or disinfect (e.g., intricate lamps).

For more information, consult Public Health Ontario’s fact sheet on Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings

Additional cleaning information

Please consult OPH’s cleaning and disinfection checklist and Public Health Ontario’s fact sheet on cleaning and disinfection for public settings for more information.

Resources

This guidance is subject to change as new information is received. Please visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus for up to date information. 

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5. Landlord guidance document – site visits

September 1, 2020

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) encourages virtual options to show units to potential tenants. If virtual or remote options are not feasible, we recommend the following in order to keep everyone involved safe and reduce the transmission of COVID-19. 

As always,  follow the legal requirements of the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, S.O. 2006, c. 17.  

If the unit is occupied, politely request that tenant(s) vacate the premises while the showing is occurring. If possible, provide the appropriate amount of notice to the tenant(s) prior to making your request.  

It is strongly recommended that landlords screen potential tenants wishing to enter a unit prior to their visit to ensure they do not show signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or meet the criteria requiring self-isolation. If they meet any of the criteria, the visit must be postponed. For more information, please refer to OPH’s self-isolation resource page.  

Records of potential tenants contact information (e.g. full name, telephone/email), including date and time at premises)should be collected and maintained by the landlord for contact tracing purposes, should the need arise. These documents should be kept easily accessible for one month. 

If current occupants of a rental unit are self-isolating/quarantining due to recent travel, confirmed COVID-19, or having signs and symptoms of COVID-19, the visit must be postponed. For more information please refer to OPH’s self-isolation resource page.

  • If the tenants are not able to leave the unit during a showing, always ensure physical distancing. This includes but is not limited to:
    • Asking that those occupying the unit stay in their room(s)
    • Always stay at least two metres (six feet) away from others

Ottawa’s Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law (2020-186) requires that every person (unless exempted) who enters or remains in an enclosed public space shall wear a mask in a manner that covers their mouth, nose and chin. Although the unit may not constitute an enclosed public space, Ottawa Public Health strongly recommends that masks be worn by the landlord, current tenant and potential tenant (unless exempted) during the site visit. 

  • Masks include: a cloth mask, medical mask, disposable mask or other face coverings (e.g. bandana or scarf) that securely cover the nose, mouth and chin without gaping. 

  • Be COVIDKind and show compassion and understanding towards individuals who are exempt from wearing a mask due to health, medical or personal reasons. 

Wearing a mask, practicing physical distancingpracticing hand hygiene and environmental cleaning of high touch surfaces work in combination to prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. In addition, it is important for all parties to remember to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth at all times 

  • High touch surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected prior to and after the visit, and that any surfaces touched during the visit are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after the visit. For more information visit our Environmental Cleaning resource page and Cleaning Checklist. 

  • All parties wash their hands or use an alcohol-based hand rub prior to entering and after exiting the premises. Please refer to OPH'sHand Hygiene resource page. 

  • OPH does not recommend wearing gloves during a site visit. Wearing gloves can make you feel more protected from the virus than you are. Wearing gloves increase the risk of getting COVID-19 if you touch other things with your gloves and then touch your face. 

This guidance is subject to change as new information is received. Please visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus for the most up to date information 

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6. Additional resources

The ethical framework for pandemic response

The ethical framework for pandemic response was developed by the Public Health Ethics Working Group to support Ottawa Public Health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

First Nations, Inuit, Métis

Low income/homeless/street involved

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Contact Information

Provincial Vaccine Information Line

  • 7 days a week, from 8 am to 8 pm
  • Call if you have questions about Ontario's COVID-19 vaccination program.
  • Service is available in multiple languages.
  • Telephone: 1-888-999-6488
  • TTY: 1-866-797-0007

Ottawa Public Health COVID-19 Telephone Line

  • Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 6 pm
  • Weekends, from 9 am to 4 pm
  • Translation is available in multiple languages
  • Telephone: 613-580-6744 follow the prompts to the COVID-19 telephone line
  • TTY: 613-580-9656

Emergency Services

  • If you are in distress (e.g., significant trouble breathing, chest pain, fainting or have a significant worsening of any chronic disease symptoms), do not go to the Assessment Centre or a COVID-19 Care clinic. Go to the nearest Emergency Department or call 9-1-1.

See someone not respecting COVID-19 rules?

How to access help during COVID-19

  • 211 Ontario can help you find financial and social support during COVID-19
  • Telephone: 2-1-1

Related Information

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