COVID-19 Information for Community Partners and Service Providers

Last revised on July 16, 2021 

On this page:

  1. Guidelines for food banks, donation centres and volunteers
  2. COVID-19 Guidance for owners, managers, landlords and operators of Multi-Unit Dwellings
  3. COVID-19 Guidance for Places of Worship
  4. Additional resources

This page provides COVID-19 guidance and resources to our local community partners and service providers. We would like to thank you for your ongoing support to reducing risks in the community.

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

1.Guidelines for food banks, donation centres and volunteers

Food banks and food donation centres provide essential services to residents and require regular donations from the community. OPH encourages all organizations and agencies to implement their own internal policies for the protection of staff, volunteers and clients that are consistent with Provincial requirements and best practices.

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

 Screening
  • Ensure that staff, volunteers and clients are screened daily for COVID-19 and before entering the premise
    • Screening can be completed using OPH’s online Screening Tool for Workplaces
    • If the screening tool indicates that someone should not attend work and/or recommends the person gets tested for COVID-19 (e.g. they have symptoms consistent with COVID-19), they must follow all the instructions.  Staff, volunteers and clients are to stay home if they are sick and alternate methods of delivery should be arranged.
    • Screening tools (paper and online) are also available in multiple languages.
  • To support public health contact tracing efforts if a staff or essential worker tests positive, employers should keep an up –to-date attendance log for individuals who worked on-site that day, including names, contact information (phone number), times and dates.
  • Employers should be prepared to contact staff/employees with further guidance from Ottawa Public Health in event of an exposure to COVID-19. OPH has developed additional guidance for employers to help limit COVID-19 transmission in the workplace and that includes:
  • Post signage (passive screening) on the entry door and other visible locations to inform individuals on how to screen themselves for COVID-19 prior to entry.

Consider posting OPH’s posters relevant to health and safety best practices: Stop Before Entering – Self-screening PosterPractice Physical DistancingSteps to Prevent the Spread of GermsSafely Putting on and Taking off MasksMask RequiredMandatory Mask Infographic and hand hygiene.

 Masks
  • As per the applicable Provincial regulations, masks are required in all public indoor settings across Ontario, as well as all indoor areas including those not accessible to the public where physical distancing of at least two-meters (six feet) cannot be maintained.
    • These Provincial requirements complement the Ottawa Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law, which requires masks to be worn in all publicly accessed indoor spaces in addition the following: , which requires masks to be worn in all publicly accessed indoor spaces. 
      • Businesses must have the mandatory mask poster at the front of the store in a visible place. 
      • Patrons of indoor and outdoor farmer’s markets are required to wear masks, unless subject to one of the exemptions.
      • For more information, please consult the Province’s Face Mask and Face Covering web page
  • 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 testing/self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms and staying home if you are sick. Mask use should be combined with these other protective measures.
  • It is also strongly recommended that all individuals wear a mask in outdoor spaces where physical distancing may become a challenge or not possible.
  • For more information about types of masks, when masks are required, exemptions and operator's responsibilities, please visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/masks
 Personal Protective Equipment for Staff and Volunteers
  • There are requirements for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) provided by the Ministry of Labour Training and Development as part of their occupational health and safety compliance. Using masks in the workplace provides the guidance and regulations around this health and safety requirement.
  • The employer must determine what PPE is required to ensure that it is worn by staff and volunteers.
  • Educate staff on the proper use and disposal of masks  and PPE. For more information, visit Public Health Ontario: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for COVID-19 Prevention.
  • 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 should need to or choose to wear 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 mask with your gloves on.   
    • Do not touch personal items, such as a cell phone, while wearing gloves. 
    • Throw the gloves out in a closed garbage bin right away after use and wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.    
    • Do not re-use gloves that are made for single use or one-time use
  • Protective eyewear is required if a worker needs to come or may come within 2 metres of another person who is not wearing a face covering, and not separated by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.  
Ottawa Public Health Instructions on Reporting Requirements for Employers ONLY (not applicable to clients)
  • Employers must immediately notify Ottawa Public Health when they become aware of two or more people in their workplace who have tested positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period as noted in the Letter of Instruction issued by Dr. Vera Etches

For more information visit OPH’s Businesses and Workplaces and also the Outbreaks in Workplaces webpages.

COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plans: Requirements for Employers ONLY (not applicable to clients)
  • All businesses that are operating must have a written safety plan by law. 

For more information, visit the province’s Develop your COVID-19 workplace safety plan webpage.

Physical Distancing
  • Incorporate physical distancing throughout the operation by keeping all staff, volunteers and clients at least two metres (six feet) apart and follow the capacity limit as per the current Provincial requirements.
    • Staff, volunteers and clients should be reminded that masks are required in all areas open to the general public.
    • To reduce risks and encourage precaution, physical distancing signage should be placed at entrances and throughout the operation. Please visit OPH for additional signage on other topics such as handwashing and cough etiquette and that is available in multiple languages.
    • In spaces that act as service counters (e.g. checkout stations) and where there may be close contact between staff, volunteers and clients, ensure that a plexiglass or barrier is installed to prevent and spread COVID-19 transmission.
    • Staff and volunteers should be given information and training about appropriate physical distancing, masks, isolation process, and hand hygiene.
  • Review the Ministry of Health - Reference Document for Safe Food Donation
Cleaning and Disinfection

The following cleaning and disinfection recommendations aim to reduce the risks associated with surface transmission.

  • Remember to clean surfaces first, then disinfect them.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces often, at a minimum of twice a day or as they become visibly soiled.
  • Only use cleaning and disinfectant products that have a Drug Identification Number (DIN) and be sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions on any product being used (e.g. preparing solutions, contact time, gloves, other PPE, etc.); it should be stated on product packaging. Low-level hospital grade disinfectants may be used; and 
    • Check expiry dates of cleaning and disinfectant products used and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Ensure that the products used are compatible with the item to be cleaned and disinfected. 
  • Garbage bins should be lined with plastic bags. 

For more information visit OPH’s Cleaning and disinfection checklist.

Recommendations for pick-up and delivery of food items

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

  • For pick-ups, 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 have or 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 of at least two metres (six feet) is maintained.
    • If line-ups do develop, support clients to physically distance by providing markings on the floor for two metre (six feet) distance
    • To limit interactions with the public during pick-up, staff/volunteers can leave the packaged food on the counter or set up a table and have an individual client pick it up.
    • Avoid leaving food (i.e. hot and or cold foods) for pick up on counter/table for a long period of time. If feasible, place food a few minutes in advance of intended pick up time.
    • Clean and disinfect high contact surfaces, such as tables and doorknobs, immediately.
    • Practise hand hygiene with either soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer immediately after each interaction.
  • If delivering, food items should be left at the door rather than a face-to-face interaction
    • Knock/ring at the door to alert the receiver and then walk away
    • Alternatively, place the items at the door and step back or to the side at least two metres (six feet) away.
    • 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.
  • For more information consult the Workplace Safety & Prevention Services Guidance on Health and Safety for Curbside Pickup and Delivery Services during COVID-19.
 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/opens door, moves at least two metres (six feet) away prior to the person entering and then always maintains physical distance for the duration of the 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
  • Use of masks:
    • As per the applicable Provincial regulations, masks are required in all public indoor settings across Ontario, as well as all indoor areas including those not accessible to the public where physical distancing of at least two meters (six feet) cannot be maintained.
      • These Provincial requirements complement the Ottawa Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law, which requires masks to be worn in all publicly accessed indoor spaces.
    • Although an individual’s home isn’t a public space, it is an indoor space. OPH recommends that staff and volunteers always wear a mask when entering a client’s home.
    • Reminder to clean hands thoroughly before putting on, if needing to adjust, and after taking off mask.
  • 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 eyes, nose and mouth unless hands have just been cleaned.
    • Try to limit contact with any surfaces while in the home
 Resources and References

OPH resources

Provincial resources

Federal resources

Back to the top

2. COVID-19 Guidance for owners, managers, landlords and operators of Multi-Unit Dwellings

Owners and Operators of commercial and residential buildings are responsible for complying with the provisions set out in the applicable Regulation(s) under the Provincial Reopening Ontario Act, 2020As well, the Province has released the COVID-19 Reopening Ontario- Roadmap to Reopen. It has a three-step plan to safely and gradually lift public health measures based on ongoing progress of provincewide vaccination rates and improvements of key public health and health care indicators.  

This guidance document describes the Provincial requirements that owners, managers, landlords and operators of multi-unit dwellings such as apartment buildings and condominiums must comply with as well as local recommendations to reduce the risks of COVID-19 transmission in the City of Ottawa. 

It is important to recognize that the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve very quickly. As such, Ottawa Public Health’s (OPH) guidance is subject to change as new information is received. Please visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus for up-to-date information, including the current status of enhanced measures in Ottawa.

All building owners, managers, landlords and operators may choose to implement their own policies within their buildings and are responsible for assessing the risk of COVID-19 transmission. As employers, they also need to develop a safety plan to mitigate these risks including implementing and adhering to measures to reduce the risk of infection among all those are accessing shared amenities and spaces including staff, tenants and visitors (including essential workers). 

Current Operational Guidance for COVID-19 Reopening Ontario - Roadmap to Reopen

The following sections provide detailed operational guidance with for building owners, building managers, landlords and operators that are operating in multi-unit dwellings such as apartment buildings and condominiums. In addition to this guidance, operators must also comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act or the Employment Standards Act.

Screening

  • Owners, building managers, landlords and operators should ensure that staff and essential workers coming into work are screened daily for COVID-19 before starting any duties.
    • Screening can be completed using OPH’s online Screening Tool for Workplaces.
    • If the screening tool indicates that someone should not attend work and/or recommends the person gets tested for COVID-19 (e.g. they have symptoms consistent with COVID-19), they must follow all the instructions. 
    • Screening tools (paper and online) are also available in multiple languages 
  • To support public health contact tracing efforts in the event that an staff or essential worker tests positive, employers should keep an up to date attendance log for individuals who worked on-site that day, including names, contact information (phone number), times and dates.
  • Employers should be prepared to contact staff/employees with further guidance from Ottawa Public Health in event of an exposure to COVID-19. OPH has developed additional guidance for employers to help limit COVID-19 transmission in the workplace and that includes:
  • Post signage on the entry door and other visible locations to prompt anyone to self-identify if they feel unwell, have symptoms of COVID-19, have travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days and are not exempt from quarantine requirements or been in close contact with somebody who is confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19. 

Consider posting OPH’s posters relevant to health and safety best practices: Stop Before Entering – Self-screening PosterPractice Physical DistancingSteps to Prevent the Spread of GermsSafely Putting on and Taking off MasksMask RequiredMandatory Mask Infographic and hand hygiene.

Masks

  • As per the applicable Provincial regulations, masks are required in all public indoor settings across Ontario, as well as all indoor areas including those not accessible to the public where physical distancing of at least two meters (six feet) cannot be maintained and includes enclosed common areas of condominiums and apartment buildings.
    • These Provincial requirements complement the Ottawa Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law, which requires masks to be worn in all publicly accessed indoor spaces.
  • Members of a household are not required to wear masks when inside their own unit amongst themselves. However, if any member in your immediate household starts to develop COVID-19 symptoms, OPH recommends that all household members wear masks and maintain a two metre (six feet) physical distance in shared spaces and until the symptomatic person(s) can get tested.
    • If necessary, maintenance is required within a unit, workers should all be screened, wear masks and keep a distance of at least two metres (six feet) from all others.
      • If possible, household members should consider leaving their unit for the duration of the maintenance work (I.e. consider going for a walk in their neighbourhood).
  • Building managers, landlords and operators must adopt a policy requiring that all individuals entering or remaining in common spaces and shared amenities that cannot maintain physical distancing (including but not limited to: entrances, lobbies, laundry rooms, and elevators) wear a mask. For more information, please consult the Province’s Face Mask and Face Covering web page.
  • It is also strongly recommended that all individuals wear a mask in outdoor spaces where physical distancing may become a challenge or not possible.

For more information about types of masks, when masks are required, exemptions and operator's responsibilities, please visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/masks.

COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plans: Requirements for Employers ONLY (not applicable to tenants and or occupants)

  • All businesses that are operating must have a written safety plan by law. 

For more information, visit the province’s Develop your COVID-19 workplace safety plan webpage.

 Physical Distancing
  • Physical distancing of at least two metres (six feet) must be maintained at all times, and in all directions, between people who are not from the same household or identified as an essential support (up to two people).
  • Take precautions to maintain distance and wear masks in shared spaces and if possible:
    • Avoid crowded elevators (wait for an empty one if you can). Take elevators with those you live with only.
    • 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).
  • To encourage these precautions, owners, building managers, landlords and operators  should post physical distancing signage, as well as the signage available in different languages that address topics such as handwashing and cough etiquette.
  • In spaces that act as service counters (e.g. rental office, security desk) and where there may be close contact between staff and tenants, ensure that a plexiglass or barrier is installed to prevent and spread COVID-19 transmission.

Staff should be given information and training about appropriate physical distancing, masks, isolation process, and hand hygiene.

Cleaning and Disinfectant
  • Remember to clean surfaces first, then disinfect them.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces often, at a minimum of twice a day or as they become visibly soiled.
  • Ensure an adequate supply of water, soap, paper towels for cleaning and disinfectant for sanitizing in spaces such as laundry rooms.
  • Only use cleaning and disinfectant products that have a Drug Identification Number (DIN); it should be stated on product packaging. Low-level hospital grade disinfectants may be used; and 
    • Check expiry dates of cleaning and disinfectant products used and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Ensure that the products used are compatible with the item to be cleaned and disinfected. 
  • Garbage bins should be lined with plastic bags. 
  • Remove items from shared spaces that may be hard to clean or disinfect (e.g. intricate lamps).

For more information visit OPH’s Cleaning and disinfection checklist.

Fitness Rooms, Pools & Recreational Amenities (indoor) in Multi-unit Dwellings

  • Keeping COVID-19 community transmission low is important to help prevent the introduction and spread of the virus into multi-dwelling facilities, particularly when using communal amenities or spaces. 
  • It is important to remember that even with precautions, participating in permitted recreation, fitness or aquatic activities with others is considered high risk for COVID-19 transmission. Everyone should consider the risk to themselves and other residents when choosing to engage in these types of activities when they are permitted.
  • Landlords, owners, and operators should align reopening of commercial and public amenities with the provincial framework/applicable regulations, public health requirements and our current local situation to support the prevention of COVID-19 transmission among residents within the multi-dwelling community. 

There are restrictions for recreation and fitness facilities depending on the level of the provincial 3 step plan, or supplementary provincial regulations, public health official orders or instructions. For the most recent updates, consult Ottawa Public Health’s Orders and Instructions, as well as Ontario's Roadmap to Reopen. OPH has also created a library of signage that can be used within your facilities, many of which have been translated into multiple languages.

Accessing a rental unit
  • During this unusual time, patience and understanding from landlords and tenants is necessary to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
  • Landlords are encouraged to limit notices to enter rental units, work collaboratively with their tenants, and to follow public health guidelines.
  • As always, follow the legal requirements of the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, S.O. 2006, c. 17.  
  • Landlords and owners who are selling/showing tenant-occupied homes should:
    • prioritize alternatives to in-person showings (e.g. virtual showings)
    • limit in-person showings
    • make necessary in-person showings as safe as possible
    • follow the guidance of the Real Estate Council of Ontario
  • Landlord and tenants should work collaboratively to ensure that any occupants of a rental unit have options available to them to support leaving the premises prior to a showing (e.g. planning to go for a walk). Please ensure that any arrangements to vacate the premises for the purposes of a showing do not violate the applicable regulations or provincial orders.
  • If virtual or remote options are not feasible, OPH recommends the following to keep everyone involved safe and reduce the transmission of COVID-19. 
    • Landlords should screen potential tenants wishing to enter a unit prior to their visit to ensure they do/have not:
      • Show signs and symptoms of COVID-19
      • Come in close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 or a person with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 during the past 14 days, or
      • Travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days.
      • If they meet any of the criteria, the visit must be postponed. For more information, please refer to OPH’s self-isolation resource page.  
  • 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, OPH strongly recommends that masks be worn by the landlord, current tenant(s) and potential tenant (s) (unless exempted) during the site visit. 
    • Remember to 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 distancing, practicing 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 details please see the Cleaning and Disinfectant section above.
  • All parties wash their hands or use an alcohol-based hand rub prior to entering and after exiting the premises. Please refer to OPH's Hand Hygiene resource page
  • If current occupants of a 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.
  • To support public health contact tracing efforts, records of potential tenant’s contact information (e.g. full name, telephone/email, date and time at premises), should be collected and maintained by the landlords. These documents should be store in a safe place and kept easily accessible. 
  • Landlords are subject to the Human Rights Code and have a duty to accommodate tenants under protected grounds, including people with disabilities. For example, conducting an in-person showing when a tenant has an immune-compromising condition could lead to a complaint under the Code.
  • Everyone is encouraged to work together to protect the health and safety of tenants, landlords and the public at large.
  • Visit the Provincial website for more information about entering rental spaces during COVID-19 and additional resources available for landlords and tenants.
Real Estate
  • Real Estate agents and homebuyers (or their representatives) must follow current rules and restrictions in place as well public health and workplace safety measures as per the 3 step Roadmap to Reopening.
  • When attending in-person showings, both parties should take steps to keep themselves and others safe to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure
  • For properties with tenants, OPH encourages both landlord and tenants to work together, be understanding and flexible, and consider all risks related to in-person showings.
    • Landlords should ensure that occupants of a rental unit have options available to them to support leaving the premise prior to the showing and that it does not violate the current regulations or provincial orders in place.
  • Visit the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) for additional resources 
Hotel/Motel
  • Owners and operators of Hotels/Motels must follow current regulations and other requirements that have been issued by the Province of Ontario, City of Ottawa, and local public health officials.
  • Owners and operators must assess risks and are responsible for taking reasonable steps to protect their own health and safety, and the health and safety of all other people in their establishment and that includes:
    • Daily screening of staff – support employees by asking them to stay home if they are sick, get tested if they have COVID-19 symptoms and to isolate upon waiting for results.
      • Guests must also isolate if they are sick and seek testing as needed
      • Ensure that there is ample space to allow for physical distancing of at least six feet (two metres).
      • Ensure cleaning and disinfecting is completed on a regular basis. See Cleaning and Disinfectant section.
      • Make certain that both staff and guests have access to handwashing stations and hand sanitizers
  • More resources and information can be found on our Businesses and Workplaces website
  • Visit the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association (ORHMA) and the Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) for recent updates and additional guidance.
Resources

This guidance has been adapted from the Province of Ontario: Renting: changes during COVID-19 (coronavirus), Toronto Public Health’s COVID-19 Guidance: Commercial & Residential Buildings

This guidance is subject to change as new information is received. Plan to regularly check for new guidance as part of your COVID-19 plan. Please visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus for up to date information. 

Back to the top

3. COVID-19 Guidance for Places of Worship

Places of Worship are responsible for complying with the provisions set out in the applicable Regulation(s) under the Provincial Reopening Ontario Act, 2020. As well, the Province has released the COVID- 19 Reopening Ontario- Roadmap to Reopen. It has a three-step plan to safely and gradually lift public health measures based on ongoing progress of provincewide vaccination rates and improvements of key public health and health care indicators. This guidance document describes the Provincial requirements that all weddings, funeral and religious services, rites, and ceremonies must comply with, as well as local recommendations to reduce the risks of transmission in the City of Ottawa.

It is important to recognize that the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve very quickly. As such, OPH’s guidance is subject to change as new information is received.

OPH continues to assess transmission of COVID-19 in our community. Given the current trends with respect to transmission and vaccination in Ottawa, there is reason to be hopeful. Nevertheless, public health measures cannot yet be relaxed or removed, at this time. Modelling studies have shown the need for full public health measures until very high levels of vaccination are achieved, otherwise we risk resurgences of COVID-19.

Please visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus for up-to-date information, including the current status of enhanced measures in Ottawa.

Assessing Risk

Places of worship, faith leaders and attendees all have a responsibility to assess the risks associated with in-person services, and to develop a safety plan to mitigate these risks. These include implementing and adhering to measures to reduce the risk of infection among all those who participate in activities, including facility staff, faith leaders, volunteers and attendees. 

Attendees are also responsible for assessing risks to themselves, their families and those associated with their participation. They are also responsible for following the measures put in place by a Place of Worship to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, as well as adhering to the details of the setting’s safety plan.

It is also important to note that congregations are often made up of older adults, many of whom are at higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 on the basis of their age, or age-related comorbidities (see, for example, US CDC). OPH recommend that these groups reduce their risk as much as possible whenever they can.

Of course, OPH recommends vaccination against COVID-19. However, while vaccination is important, they do not offer protection to 100% of recipients after two doses. Vaccine effectiveness is also lower in older age groups and one would not know who will be left unprotected. COVID-19 variants of concern can also impact the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Attendees, staff and volunteers of Places of Worship may be older and therefore have more chronic health conditions than the population on average. Places of Worship and their members should consider their risks from COVID-19 (increasing age itself being the strongest risk factor), which is still circulating in the community and could have resurgences. Places of Worship may wish to consider alternatives to in-person services (e.g., virtual services) to reduce the risks of transmission amongst their members. 

Please note:

  • Occupancy limits are maximums and are permitted provided organizers can ensure physical distancing of at least two metres (six feet) between households (including essential supports).
  • Indoor events or gatherings cannot be combined with outdoor events or gatherings so as to increase the applicable limit on the number of people at the event or gathering.

Table 1 below provides occupancy limits in the Province’s 3 step Roadmap to Reopen, for weddings, funerals or a religious services, rites or ceremonies (and as per the relevant regulations under the Reopening Ontario Act, 2020). Please note that this is subject to change, based on Provincial announcements.

Table 1: Capacity Limits for religious services, rites or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services, as per the Province’s 3 step Roadmap to Reopen
SubjectStep 1 (O. Reg. 82/20)Step 2 (O. Reg. 263/20)Step 3 (O. Reg. 364/20

Religious services, rites or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services (does not apply to receptions) * #

15% capacity indoors of the room.

Outdoor permitted with capacity limited to permit physical distancing of two metres.

Indoor permitted at 25% capacity of the room.

Outdoor permitted with capacity limited to permit physical distancing of two metres.

Indoor and outdoor permitted with capacity limited to permit physical distancing of two metres

Social gathering associated with a wedding, a funeral or a religions service, rite or ceremony, such as a wedding reception * # %

Note: If a gathering associated with a religious service, rite or ceremony – including weddings and funerals – is held at a meeting or event space or a food or drink establishment, it is subject to the gathering limits specific to those facilities, as set out in the Regulations

 

Max 10 people for outdoor gatherings.

Outdoor end-of-school-year celebration ceremonies held by a school or private school are exempt from outdoor gathering limits, with restrictions.

Retirement homes are exempt from gathering limits.

Maximum 25 for people for outdoor gatherings.

Maximum 5 people for indoor gatherings.

Outdoor end-of-school-year celebration ceremonies held by a school or private school are exempt from outdoor gathering limits, with restrictions.

Retirement homes are exempt from gathering limits.

Maximum 25 people for indoor gatherings.

Maximum 100 people for outdoor gatherings

Retirement homes are exempt from gathering limits

* All people in attendance must be able to maintain two metre (six feet) physical distancing from every other person, except from their caregiver or from members of the person’s household. It is also strongly recommended that all individuals wear a mask in outdoor spaces where physical distancing may become a challenge or not possible.

#Does not apply with respect to a gathering of members of a single household, or a gathering that includes members of a household and one other person from outside that household who lives alone

% Gathering limits apply with respect to an organized public event or social gathering even if it is held at a private dwelling, including houses, apartment buildings, condominium buildings and post-secondary student residences.

Operational Guidance

The following sections provide detailed operational guidance with respect to Places of Worship in Ottawa. Please note that religious ceremonies, rites and/or ceremonies must also comply with the requirements set out by the Provincial Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Advice: Religious Services, Rites or Ceremonies.

Screening
  • All individuals, including children, must be screened upon arrival or prior to their entry to a Place of Worship each time they attend services. Also Staff and volunteers must be actively screened daily before starting their duties.
  • Consider developing a system to RSVP attendance to specific services or events. This may also allow online screening of attendees at the same time.
    • To support public health contact tracing efforts in the event that an attendee at the Place of Worship tests positive, Places of Worship can consider keeping an up-to-date attendance log for individuals who attend their services or enter the facility, including names, contact information (phone number), times and dates.
    • Also, to help track any potential outbreaks and minimize further spread within the community, OPH has developed a COVID-19 Community Reporting Tool for anyone to use when you learn of two or more positive COVID-19 cases within your community group or event (e.g. a wedding). OPH will follow-up with you within 24hrs of your submission.
      • The tool is confidential and voluntary (no legal obligation) for community groups or event holders to report COVID-19 cases to OPH.
Masks
  • As per the applicable Provincial regulations, every person attending a Place of Worship is required to wear a mask or face covering in a manner that covers their mouth, nose and chin during any period in which they are in an indoor area of the premises, with some exemptions. Places of Worship are responsible for ensuring that anyone inside the premises wears a mask, except for those who are exempt.
    • These Provincial requirements complement the Ottawa Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law, which requires masks to be worn in all publicly accessed indoor spaces.
  • It is also strongly recommended that all individuals wear a mask in outdoor spaces where physical distancing may become a challenge or not possible.

For more information  about types of masks, when masks are required, exemptions  and operator's responsibilities, please visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/masks

Ottawa Public Health Instructions on Reporting Requirements for Employers ONLY. (not applicable to congregants)
  • Employers must immediately notify Ottawa Public Health when they become aware of two or more people in their workplace who have tested positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period as noted in the Letter of Instruction issued by Dr. Vera Etches.

For more information visit OPH’s Businesses and Workplaces or Outbreaks in Workplaces webpages.

COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plans: Requirements for Employers ONLY (not applicable to congregants)

  • All businesses that are operating must have a written safety plan by law.

For more information, visit the province’s Develop your COVID-19 workplace safety plan webpage.

Facilities

  • Please see Table 1 above that provides occupancy limits in the Province’s 3 step Roadmap to Reopen, for weddings, funerals or a religious services, rites or ceremonies (and as per the relevant regulations under the Reopening Ontario Act, 2020). Please note that this is subject to change, based on Provincial announcements.
  • Operators who choose to have in-person services should consider that capacity restrictions on their own do not address many important factors that may contribute to the spread of COVID-19. Other factors include: entry, hallway, exit space and flow; the size and shape of the building where congregation is expected to occur; the layout of spaces where attendees will spend time; the activity occurring at each gathering; screening of participants; and cleaning procedures.
  • Only allow one point of entry and a separate point of exit, especially if there will be overlap between people entering and exiting. However, for big buildings that may have a large number of attendees, the risk of crowding may need to be mitigated by exercising greater control of entrance and exit processes (e.g., dismiss one row at a time); and/or using more than one entrance and exit.
    • If using more than one point of entry, facilities need to coordinate between doors to ensure occupancy limits in the room is respected as per the COVID- 19 Reopening Ontario- Roadmap to Reopen 3 step plan and current Provincial orders.
    • The distancing of a least two metres (six feet) must be maintained in all phases of approaching, entering, and being in the building, rooms, including hallways.
  • Weather permitting, prop entry and exit doors open to prevent patrons from touching handles/bars.
  • Weather permitting, ventilate spaces by opening doors, windows etc.
  • Hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol content must be available at facility entrance and exit and available in every room (as applicable).
  • All visitors should be asked to clean their hands upon entry and exit.
  • Mark seating to ensure at least two metres (six feet) of physical distancing between individuals who are not members of the same household (including essential supports).
  • Mark directional flow of people through buildings, rooms and areas to maintain distancing and to avoid movement against the flow of people.
  • Block off (if appropriate) and have visual markings on the ground, where attendees, staff and volunteers may be sitting or standing.
  • Manage access to washrooms in a way that promotes physical distancing and cleaning and disinfection. Ensure washrooms are well stocked with liquid soap and paper towels, and that warm running water is available. In washrooms with multiple sinks, consider blocking access to every second sink to ensure physical distancing.
  • Discontinue use of any communal items (e.g., shared glasses, dishes, etc.).
  • Places of worship who offer free or rented spaces to other groups or businesses must ensure these groups or businesses also abide by this guidance and other Ontario requirements.
 Cleaning and disinfecting
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at least twice a day (when in use) or following every religious service (e.g., distinct groups of worshippers), whichever is more frequent.
  • Surfaces most likely to become contaminated include, but are not limited to pews, doorknobs, railings, elevator buttons, water fountain/cooler knobs, light switches, toilet and faucet handles, ceremonial objects, electronic devices, and tabletops. Refer to Public Health Ontario’s Environmental Cleaning fact sheet.
  • Only use cleaning and disinfectant products that have a Drug Identification Number (DIN); it should be stated on product packaging. Low-level hospital grade disinfectants may be used; and
    • Check expiry dates of cleaning and disinfectant products used and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Ensure that the products used are compatible with the item to be cleaned and disinfected.
  • Garbage bins should be lined with plastic bags.
  • For more information visit OPH’s Cleaning and disinfection checklist.
Protecting attendees, staff and volunteers
  • Physical distancing of at least two metres (six feet) must be maintained at all times, and in all directions, between people who are not from the same household or identified as an essential support (up to two people). Individuals from the same household (including essential support) may be seated together and should remain in place once they are seated.
  • Offer multiple services and opportunities to worship to reduce the attendance.
  • If multiple services are held on a single day, the start and end times must allow those who attend one service to exit safely, avoiding contact with those arriving for the next service. Time is also needed to clean and disinfect common surfaces between services.
  • Consider cohorting individuals and families. For instance, when possible organize attendance so the same individuals/families go to the same service each day/week to minimize mixing of different individuals/families.
  • Consider alternative ways to involve individuals at greater risk from COVID-19, including online services.
  • The occupancy limits set out in the province are maximums, and faith leaders should evaluate their own space and establish more strict caps on attendance if their space cannot accommodate the full % permitted by the regulations.
    • Ensure at least two metres (six feet) of physical distancing is maintained, while indoors. Identify a method to monitor and enforce attendance caps at each service.
    • Consider establishing a system for attendees to RSVP to attend specific services or events to minimize overcrowding.
  • All staff and volunteers are required to wear a mask at all times while in the place of worship.
  • All attendees are required to wear a mask to reduce the risk of transmission. Exceptions to mandatory face masks are permitted in accordance with provincial regulations and the City of Ottawa Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law. Attendees who cannot wear a mask should preferentially choose online options to worship; if they feel they must attend then a face shield must be worn and at least two metres (six feet) physical distancing must be respected at all times. A face shield would not be considered an equal substitute for a face mask as it does not provide filtering capacity. Information on masks, including how to correctly use one, can be found on OPH’s Masks webpage.
  • All individuals should assess their own level of risk, and the health of every person in their household, when deciding to attend in-person services. If anyone in one’s household is at higher risk from COVID-19, everyone should choose lower risk activities to keep them safe.
  • Ensure hand hygiene and proper cough and sneeze etiquette while in the place of worship. Avoid touching face with unwashed hands. Post signage in visible locations to reinforce this.
  • Child care and/or children’s programming should operate in a manner consistent with the Ministry of Health's COVID Guidance: Summer Day Camps, or the Ministry of Education’s Child Care, EarlyON Child and Family Centres, or Before/After School Program guidance.
  • For more information, please visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/childcareCOVID19
  • Staff and volunteers should be given information and training about appropriate physical distancing, masks, processes, and hygiene practices.
High risk population
  • The risk of serious illness from COVID-19 increases progressively with age. In addition to increasing age, people who have serious underlying medical conditions (such as: cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic lung disease, chronic liver disease, cancer, are immunocompromised) or severe obesity are at higher risk for severe illness for COVID-19. Every individual needs to consider their personal risk factors when making decisions about attending in-person services.
  • Faith communities who have members who are older and/or have chronic medical conditions may wish to implement specific accommodations for these individuals. To protect these persons, Places of Worship may:
    • Recommend vulnerable individuals take part in virtual services; and
    • Offer a dedicated service(s) for them.

For more information, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Older Adult web page, as well as OPH’s Older Adults and COVID-19 web page.

Higher Risk Activities

Places of Worship should review all activities, rituals, and practices that occur to determine if they increase the risk of transmitting COVID-19 amongst attendees, staff, and/or volunteers. Any activity or practice that increases the risk of COVID-19 through contact (e.g., touching surfaces or objects such as in communion) or droplet transmission (e.g., sneezing, coughing, singing, shouting) should be discontinued or altered to prevent the risk. The following section provides guidance on some common higher risk activities that may occur in Places of Worship:

Social Events:

  • If permitted gatherings are held, these activities are subject to the current public gathering limits, and at least two metres (six feet) of physical distancing between all in attendance is required.
  •  Social gathering limits (e.g. receptions) are different than the limits permitted for religious services, rites, and ceremonies (including wedding and funeral services). Please refer to the provincial COVID- 19 Reopening Ontario- Roadmap to Reopen 3 step plan for more information.

Singing & Playing of Brass and Wind Instruments:

Although singing at such services/ceremonies is not prohibited, singing in a group setting (e.g., at a Place of Worship) and/or choir and/or playing brass and wind instruments are higher risk activities for COVID-19 transmission. Singing, in particular, has been associated with COVID-19 super-spreader events - Many attendees at Places of Worship are older in age, and as such, may be at higher-risk for adverse outcomes from COVID-19. If singing is to occur, attendees should be aware of their risks, and all singers should be separated by at least two metres or a plexiglass or other impermeable barrier (unless part of the same household). Indoor spaces have variable air volumes and variable ventilation. The risk of COVID-19 transmission indoors is estimated to be about 20 times higher than outdoors. Guidance from the Ministry of Health advises adapting or suspending live indoor singing.

When multiple households attend an indoor setting and participate in higher risk activities (e.g., group singing at a Place of Worship), the risk for COVID-19 transmission increases. As the risk of serious outcomes from COVID-19 infection increases with age and with certain underlying medical conditions, faith leaders, as well as Places of Worship staff, volunteers, and attendees all have a responsibility to assess the risks to themselves, their families, and anyone else associated with their participation with in-person services and the activities therein.

The Ministry of Health has indicated that Places of Worship adapt or suspend activities that increase the risk of disease transmission, including singing, choirs and playing wind or brass instruments. If participating in these activities, the Ministry states the following:

  • Consider using audio or video recordings instead of live singing or wind or brass instrumental music.
  • Group singing is strongly discouraged. However, if more than one person is singing, limit the number of people singing to the fewest possible.
  • Anyone singing or playing wind or brass instruments should be at least two metres (six feet) from anyone else not from their household or separated by an impermeable barrier. If an impermeable barrier is not used, anyone singing or playing wind or brass instruments should be separated from any other person, including other performers, who are outside of the same household or essential supports, to the greatest extent possible (but at least two metres/six feet).

If singing, choirs, and/or playing wind or brass instruments are to take place, OPH recommends all Place of Worship staff/attendees assess their own risk with attendance, review the Ministry requirements, and consider ways to exceed the Ministry’s minimum requirements to reduce risks to all who may be in attendance. In addition to the Ministry guidance, this may include:

  • Increasing the minimum of two metres (six feet) between congregants, singers/performers and putting mechanisms in place so that they all face away from each other, if possible.
  • Singers/Performers should be separated from each other by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier unless the singers are within the same household or essential supports.
  • Microphones and amplification should be used if possible, rather than projecting the voice.
  • Microphones should be cleaned and sanitized between users.
  • If no impermeable barrier is used, then maximizing the distance from singers/musicians to audience members to well above two metres.
  • Ensuring all individuals always wear a mask in both indoor and/or outdoor spaces when interacting with those outside their household, especially when engaging in higher risk activities for COVID-19 transmission.

While outdoor worship services would be considered safer than indoor services, there are still risks associated with large gatherings of people from different households, especially with the still considerable rate of community transmission and Variants of Concern that we continue to see in Ottawa. Although physical distancing between household groups would help to mitigate some of these risks, large numbers of people would make it difficult to avoid being downwind from others outside one’s household (the concern being that air currents could carry potentially infectious respiratory droplets to other groups nearby). As such, if singing is to occur at outdoor services, OPH strongly recommends that all individuals wear a mask in outdoor spaces where physical distancing may become a challenge or not possible.

Interactions:

  • Religious rituals that involve physical contact between individuals, such as anointing with oils increase the likelihood of disease transmission and should be delayed, performed in an alternate fashion that minimizes physical contact, or if must be performed, consideration to provide them as safely as possible such as use of appropriate protective equipment.

Food:

  • Public/social gathering limits are different than the limits permitted for religious services, rites, and ceremonies.
  • The provision of food and/or beverages, if not part of the religious service/ceremony, is considered a social gathering and is subject to gathering limits as per the Regulations and Provincial Framework, with physical distancing required.
  • Places of Worship should take into consideration the risks to attendees when determining what types of social activities will be permitted on-site.
  • Places of Worship should recognize that masks and physical distancing are still required indoors, and plan accordingly for how these provisions, as well as infection prevention and control considerations (e.g. protecting the food from being exposed to someone’s coughs or sneezes) would be incorporated into any lineup that may result from a buffet style set-up
  • Given that attendees may be older and therefore more at risk for adverse outcomes from COVID-19, during any indoor dining, Places of Worship should consider the safest seating arrangement possible to allow households to sit together, but ensuring that all others are at least two metres apart from the outermost edge of each seat, and in every direction.
    • It is important to note that one may not know who has received two doses of their vaccine, and/or if one’s self is fully protected by their vaccination.
  • Rituals that include food (e.g., communion) are strongly discouraged at this time and should be substituted where possible.
  • Ensure that no food is shared, and pre-portion if needed.
  • Do not drink from the same chalice or cup as someone else.

Weddings and Funerals:

  • Please see Table 1 above that provides occupancy limits in the Province’s 3 step Roadmap to Reopen, for weddings, funerals or a religious services, rites or ceremonies (and as per the relevant regulations under the Reopening Ontario Act, 2020). Please note that this is subject to change, based on Provincial announcements.
  • Social gatherings before or after the service, including those where food and drink are shared, are subject to gathering limits, and physical distancing is required. Social gathering limits (e.g. receptions) are different than the limits permitted for weddings and funerals. Please consult the provincial COVID- 19 Reopening Ontario- Roadmap to Reopen 3 step plan for more information.

Shared Items:

  • Sharing or distributing materials or objects is considered to be an activity that increase the risk of disease transmission. This may include but is not limited to; books, communion, microphones, prayer mats, prayer shawls, water, etc. It is recommended to adapt or suspend such activities.
  • If any materials or objects are shared or distributed:
    • Ensure that hand hygiene is performed prior to distribution or sharing.
    • Consider leaving objects or materials to be distributed on a table for individuals to pick up and/or limit the number of individuals who have contact with materials or objects.
    • Ensure any materials or objects that are returned or accessed within the setting are disinfected or not re-used immediately.
    • If it is required for religious or spiritual reasons, touching of ceremonial objects may occur if:
      • hand hygiene is performed before and after touching the object.
      • individuals must not kiss, embrace or press their faces on any shared ceremonial object.
    • Do not hand out or share items that cannot be cleaned and disinfected before and after each use (e.g., books, hymns, prayer mats, head coverings, programs).
    • Consider using projection or audio-visual systems to share information.
    • Microphones should be set up once and then not touched by individual users, as these devices are difficult to clean and disinfect.
    • Do not offer shared receptables for liquid. Do not pass donation collection plates or containers between attendees. Alternatives include: online offerings/donations; and a designated area to place offerings/donations. Touching of offerings/donations collected from patrons should be minimized for a period of three days.

Children’s Programs:

This guidance has been adapted from The Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Advice: Religious Services, Rites or Ceremonies,  Workplace Safety & Prevention Services’ Guidance on Health and Safety for Places of Worship During COVID-19,Alberta’s Guidance for Places of Worship, Saskatchewan’s Guidelines for Places of Worship, and Toronto Public Health’s Guidance for Places of Worship.

This guidance is subject to change as new information is received. Plan to regularly check for new guidance as part of your COVID-19 plan. 

Resources

Signage and resources
Business / SectorGuidanceResources
Places of worship

Back to the top

4. Additional resources

COVID-19 Community Reporting Tool

This tool is for community groups to notify Ottawa Public Health when they become aware of two or more people in their setting or group who have tested positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period. "Community group" refers to a group of people who come together for a specific reason. Your responses will be kept strictly confidential.

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

Back to the top

Maximum 25 people for indoor gatherings.

This page provides COVID-19 guidance and resources to our local community partners and service providers. We would like to thank you for your ongoing support to reducing risks in the community.

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

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

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 4:30 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

Other Languages

Automated translation by Google

akhbaar somali kuqoran
المعلومات المكتوبة باللغة العربية
简体中文资料

 

Contact Us