Businesses, Workplaces and Community Organizations

Last updated on October 19, 2022 

On this page


While we would all like to move on from COVID-19, the virus is still circulating in our communities and the risk of infection, and/or severe outcomes from COVID-19, is greater for some individuals than others. A snapshot of the current COVID trends is published weekly. However, Ottawa residents have the knowledge and tools to prevent transmission that we did not have in the early stages of the pandemic.

It is important to remember that our actions can make a difference in reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses to staff/volunteers, clients/participants, and visitors/attendees. Protective measures include:

  • Keeping vaccines up to date: As vaccine protection and immunity from previous infection decrease over time, we continue to strongly encourage all Ottawa residents get all booster doses they are eligible for.
  • Staying home when you are sick.
  •  Wearing a Mask: OPH continues to strongly recommended residents wear a mask in indoor and/or crowded public settings and when you’ve finished an isolation period after an illness. This is a simple and effective way to help protect those around you.
  • Following all isolation guidelines

Businesses, workplaces, event organizers, and community organizations (for example, Places of Worship, sports teams and others) should assess the risk to employees/volunteers, clients/participants, and anyone in attendance when planning in-person activities/events. For more information on layers of protection and how to assess level of risk, please visit Ottawa Public Health’s Reducing the risks from COVID-19 web page.

As Ontario continues to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we encourage Ottawa businesses, workplaces and community organizations to review and share the information below.

Please note that the resources below are not sector specific and can be used by any individual in any setting.

Back to top

Information to support stakeholders and organizations

Businesses, workplaces and community organizations

Adapting your business, operations, and services for COVID-19

Though most public health measures have been lifted, it's important to remember that COVID is still present in Ottawa, and that businesses, workplaces, and community organizations continue to have an important role in keeping our people and communities healthy. The actions you can take to reduce the risk of COVID-19, as well as other respiratory infections, include:

  • Identifying possible high-risk areas for virus transmission and how to reduce these risks (e.g., poster reminders in lunch areas about staying home when sick).
  • Preparing for possible increased numbers of employee absences due to illness and/or isolation of employees and/or their family members. Explore the flexibility of policies and practices, such as teleworking arrangements, flexible hours, staggering start times, use of email and teleconferencing.
  • Establishing a process for ongoing communication with employees and business partners.
  • Develop a contingency and business/service continuity plan in the event staff are ill and cannot be at the workplace.
  • Considering changes/adjustments to service delivery and programming by using alternative methods of service (e.g., virtual, telephone, delivery or pickup) for individuals at higher risk of getting seriously sick from COVID-19 or who are not eligible for vaccination.

To ensure employees and volunteers are well and fit for work:

  • Encourage employees and volunteers to continue daily screening for COVID-19 symptoms and stay home when sick.
  • If employees or volunteers develop symptoms while at work, they should notify their supervisor, return home and follow the instructions that apply to their specific situation.
  • If symptoms are life-threatening, call 9-1-1.

Continue to Promote COVID-19 Prevention in your Workplace  

Businesses and organizations can lead by example during a resurgence and encourage small actions that can make a big impact. This includes posting signage in common spaces to let people know that measures are in place to help reduce their risks when inside, like welcoming mask use, ongoing use of barriers, visual hand hygiene reminders, providing hand sanitizer on-site, supporting and encouraging employees and volunteers to get vaccinated and boosted, and stay home when they are not well.

Back to top

Workplace Vaccination Policies

Our best protection against serious illness, hospitalization and long-term impacts from COVID-19 is vaccination.

There are many ways employers and workplaces can encourage and promote the vaccine to their employees. As a workplace, you can continue to support and encourage employees, volunteers, or members to get their vaccine or booster dose if they are eligible. Build trust by listening to their concerns, sharing credible resources, and encouraging them to talk to a health care provider. 

For more information on vaccines and booster doses, please visit the COVID-19 Vaccine page.

Business may also wish to visit this Government of Ontario page for more information about COVID-19 and workplace health and safety.

Back to top

Rapid Antigen Testing for Workplaces

  • The Provincial Antigen Screening Program allows organizations to add an additional safety measure in workplaces, to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Through the program, rapid antigen screening tests are distributed to enhance existing routine screening measures. Rapid antigen screening tests may allow workplaces to proactively identify cases of COVID-19 that may have otherwise been missed, supporting employee safety and business continuity.

Back to top

Mental health resources for employees and employers

We know that there has been mental health and substance use health challenges in our community. We also know stigma around mental health and substance use health continues, and that often, people do not know where to turn for help when they need it. 

Everyone will experience these events in their own way. It is completely natural to feel stress and concern during these times and so it is important to practice positive coping strategies that can promote wellness.

Mental Health Resources are available:

  • If you are in crisis, please contact the Mental Health Crisis Line (24 hours a day/7 days a week) at 613-722-6914 or if outside Ottawa toll-free at 1-866-996-0991.
  • For residents who would like to access French-only crisis support, please contact TAO Tel-Aide 613-741-6433 or if outside Ottawa toll free at 1-800-567-9699.
  • If you (or your child) are experiencing thoughts of suicide or harming yourself, please call 9-1-1.

For more information and resources, visit the Mental Health, Addictions and Substance Use Health Services and Resources webpage.

Other resources

 Back to top

Special Events
Special event organizers and attendees have a responsibility to assess and reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission at any events they are hosting/attending. In addition to vaccination, use of masks, exercising proper hand hygiene, using recommended cleaning procedures and increasing ventilation, event organizers may also wish to consider putting in place a plan to clean frequently touched surfaces (e.g. debit/credit machines or merchandise) – including at entrances, bag checks, token exchanges, food/beverage sales, etc. - to further reduce the risks of COVID-19 transmission, as well as other respiratory illnesses.

Other key resources for event organizers:

Back to top

Places of Worship

Places of Worship, faith leaders and anyone choosing to attend an in-person service should continue to assess all activities, rituals, and practices to determine if they increase the risk of transmitting COVID-19, or other viruses amongst employees/volunteers or anyone in attendance. For more information about who is at higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19, please visit Reducing the risk from COVID-19. 

In addition to vaccination, use of masks, increasing ventilation, Places of Worship and faith leaders may also wish to consider putting in place a plan to clean frequently touched surfaces or objects (e.g. door handles) to further reduce the risks of COVID-19 transmission.

Before visiting others or attending an event at a Place of Worship, individuals should assess their own level of risk, and the risk of those they live and interact with.

For events where food is served (including communion), organizers are encouraged to visit Ottawa Public Health’s  Food safety website and remember to ensure proper food handling and hand hygiene practices are exercised.

Back to top

 Sports and Recreation
Getting physical activity and fresh air is important for our overall mental and physical well-being. There are ways to be active, whether at home or outside, while making informed decisions regarding your own personal levels of risk, and the risks you may pose to those around you.

Athletes, volunteers, officials, and employees involved with sports/recreational activities should continue to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and stay home when sick.

As sports and recreation activities may be higher risk for COVID-19 transmission due to close contact, heavy breathing during activity, as well as other factors, all participants should assess their own risk, as well as the risk to others in their household, before participating.  It is important to note that although measures can be taken to ensure participation is as safe as possible, there will still be a risk for COVID-19 transmission to others while participating. While up to date COVID-19 vaccine doses offer strong personal protection against COVID-19 infection, it is still possible to transmit the virus to others.

Here are some safety precautions that can help lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission when participating in sports:

  • Practice/play your sport outside rather than inside whenever possible.
  • Although masking is no longer mandatory in Ontario, individuals may consider wearing a mask in situations where physical distancing may be difficult or impossible. Some individuals may choose to keep wearing masks in places where they are not required; please be kind and respectful of others’ choices.
  • Be mindful of crowded indoor spaces, like dressing rooms, and consider wearing a mask, if possible.
  • While taking part in sports or in recreational settings, residents are strongly encouraged to exercise frequent and proper hand hygiene.

In addition to these precautions, athletes, coaches, volunteers, officials, and staff should also consult with the organizer of their league/team, as well as their sport’s governing/authority body, to be aware of any sport-specific adjustments/requirements/recommendations that may be in place to further reduce risks.


Back to top

Reduce your risks of COVID-19 in vehicles (e.g., ride sharing and carpooling)
  • Encourage patrons or carpoolers to self-screen prior to riding.
  • It is strongly recommended that drivers and passengers continue to wear masks. 
  • Consider asking passengers to sit in the back seat to maintain physical distance.
  • Improve fresh air circulation using the vehicle climate control system and opening windows. Avoid the recirculated air option.
  • Consider making hand sanitizer available for drivers and riders. Drivers should clean their hands frequently.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces such as seat belts, door handles, arm rests, steering wheels, and other driving controls.

Back to top

Resources for businesses, workplaces, and community organizations

These resources can also be shared with employees and volunteers:

Back to top

Back to top

Newsletter/ Bulletins d’information

Get email updates/Obtenez des mises à jour par voie électronique Subscribe to Ottawa Public Health’s Community Operations Newsletter. Subscribers will receive updates with COVID-19 information specific to their selected sector and/or workplace. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Abonnez-vous aux bulletins d’information de Santé publique Ottawa relatifs aux opérations communautaires. Les abonnés recevront des renseignements sur la COVID-19 correspondant au secteur ou lieu de travail sélectionné. Vous pouvez vous désabonner à tout moment.
Arts, Culture, Special Events/Arts, culture et événements
Business Improvement Associations (BIA)/Zones d’amélioration commerciale (ZAC)
Childcare/Services de garde d'enfants
Community-based Organizations (Older Adults)/ Organismes communautaires (personnes âgées)
Community-based Organizations/Organismes communautaires
Construction & Manufacturing/Construction et fabrication
Multi-unit Dwellings/Habitations à logements multiples
Office-based Workplaces/Les bureaux
Personal Service Settings/Établissements de services personnels
Retail/Commerces de détail
Restaurants/Établissements alimentaires
Sports & Recreation/Sports et loisirs 
Places of Worship/Lieux de culte
Security/Services de sécurité
Summer Camp/ Camp d'été
Marketing by

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

Provincial Testing and Isolation Information Line

  • 7 days a week from 8 am to 6 pm
  • Call if you have questions related to testing eligibility and isolation guidelines
  • Telephone: 1-888-777-0730

Ottawa Public Health Vaccine Booking Line

  • Monday to Friday, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm
  • Translation is available in multiple languages
  • Telephone: 613-691-5505

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 911.

How to access help during COVID-19

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

Related information

Contact Us