Businesses and Workplaces

Last updated on July 19, 2021

 

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For information on regulatory restrictions in place for Ontario and the City of Ottawa, please see the Roadmap to Reopen, Provincial and City Rules, and Public Health Orders and Instructions.  For each step in the Province’s Roadmap to Reopen, there are different public health and workplace safety measures for businesses and organizations.

On this page:

Adapting your business for COVID-19

Plan for the potential impact of COVID-19 in your workplace by considering the following actions:

  • Identify possible work-related exposure and health risks to your employees and how to reduce these risks.
  • Prepare for possible increased numbers of employee absences due to illness in employees and their family members and/or dismissals of early childhood programs and schools.
  • Explore the flexibility of policies and practices, such as teleworking arrangements, flexible hours, staggering start times, use of email and teleconferencing. 
  • Establish a process for ongoing communication with employees and business partners.
  • Develop a contingency and business continuity plan

Develop your COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan

This safety plan must:

  • Describe measures/procedures that have been or will be implemented in the business, place, facility or establishment to reduce spread of COVID-19.
  • Include measures for screening, physical distancing, masks, cleaning, disinfecting and personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Be in writing and made available to any person for review on request.
  • Be posted in a visible place to come to the attention of those working or attending the location.

COVID-19 cases within the workplace

There are COVID-19 cases in my workplace, what should I do?

If you are aware of positive cases within a workplace, please contact: 

  • Employer -  notify OPH by using the COVID-19 Workplace Reporting Tool
  • Employees/community residents - call Ottawa Public Health COVID-19 line at 613-580-6744 
What happens after I make a report to OPH? 

OPH’s IPAC and Case Management teams investigate all workplaces with positive cases. If an outbreak is called, a plan is started with the workplace.  The plan may include identifying and contacting high-risk contacts, a site visit, and cleaning instructions for example. It is important to note that each workplace plan will be different. Plans are based on the number of cases, the type of workplace, the type of work done at the workplace, and the distance between employees. 

My workplace has COVID-19, shouldn't it be shut down?
Certain essential workplaces cannot shut down for safety or health reasons. OPH works closely with these workplaces to ensure that staff and the public remain safe.
My workplace is not respecting COVID-19 orders, what are the consequences?
Workplaces can be fined by Bylaw and the police for not following provincial and local orders. The Ministry of Labor can investigate workplaces that do not report COVID-19 cases or protect staff from a COVID-19 outbreak. If you have any concerns about COVID-19 rules being followed within your workplace, contact 3-1-1 for By-law and Police. You can file a complaint with the Ministry of Labor by email or by phone at 1-877-202-0008 ( TTY: 1-855-653-9260) Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm
When can I expect to hear back from OPH after reporting COVID-19 cases in my workplace?
COVID-19 investigations and follow-up are confidential. Only those who need to be contacted to deal with the workplace outbreak are contacted. OPH investigates all reports made on the contact line.
What do I do if my employee is being tested for COVID-19 OR being told to self-isolate by Ottawa Public Health?

Unless OPH has contacted you with specific instructions, you are not required to take any additional action at this time.

Your employee who is waiting for test results will be instructed to self-isolate at home and should not go to work.

Your employee may provide you with a general sick note prepared by OPH for individuals needing to self-isolate at home. Please respect this public health guidance as we continue to contain spread of the virus locally.

The length of your employee’s self-isolation period*will vary depending upon their level of risk, refer to the OPH Tested, What Now? handout. Some examples include whether they:

  • Receive a positive or negative test result
  • Are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19
  • Are identified as a high-risk contact of a person who tested positive for COVID-19
  • Are identified as a household contact of a child or youth attending school or daycare
  • Have travelled outside the country

*Self-isolation requirements for residents of Ottawa may differ from those in other health units. Health care workers have different criteria for discontinuing self-isolation.

For more information about discontinuing self-isolation in these and other scenarios, please review the Frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 Order for Self-Isolation and Tested for COVID-19.

What are my responsibilities if one of my employees tests positive for COVID-19?

As an employer, OPH recommends that you:

Your employee who tested positive for COVID-19 will be contacted by Ottawa Public Health. As the employer, you will need to identify high risk contacts in the workplace. 

High risk contacts are:

  • Anyone who wore a mask and was less than two metres away from the positive staff member and spent 15 or more minutes with them. 
  • Anyone who did not wear a mask and was less than two metres away from the positive staff member for any length of time (regardless if the positive staff member wore a mask).
  • Anyone (with or without a mask) who was less than two metres from the positive staff member who did not wear a mask for any length of time.

Once the high-risk contact list is finalized, the employer informs identified staff that they must self-isolate at home. Please forward Staff High-Risk Contact Letter to identified high-risk contacts.  The employer will also inform high-risk contact staff of their return to work date (at least 14 +1 day) after the last contact with the positive staff member.

If you receive questions from your employees, please call 613-580-6744 or visit novel coronavirus COVID-19 web page for more information.

Resources:

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Being COVID Wise

Being COVID Wise is how we will be able to resume economic and social activities while COVID-19 is still in our community. Information and resources for businesses are available to help meet current regulations and adapt your workplace to be COVID Wise. As a workplace and business, being COVID Wise will help keep both customers and employees safer during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you so much for your hard work and efforts to help keep our community healthy! 

In a workplace setting, being COVID Wise means: 

  • Posting signage to remind everyone about physical distancing and wearing a mask
  • Following the mandatory mask bylaw 
  • Ensuring employees wear a mask whenever they cannot maintain two metre distance (including in break rooms and non-public spaces) 
  • Encouraging customers wear a mask in outdoor settings if they cannot maintain two metre distance  
  • Screening all employees for symptoms of COVID-19 before each shift and ensuring they stay home if they have symptoms or feel unwell 
  • Changing processes and/or using visible markers to ensure two metre physical distancing
  • Reminding employees and customers to maintain physical distance of two metres (six feet) at all times and as much as possible
  • Providing hand sanitizer or hand washing stations for customers and employees 
  • Employees are informed/trained on the importance of all these measures

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An illustrated mask  Wear a mask

Being COVID Wise about masks means: 

Mandated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) For Workers-  Medical Masks and Eye Protection 

  • In a workplace setting, workers must wear mandated personal protective equipment (PPE) that protects their eyes, nose and mouth, when they are required to come within two metres of another person and in an area that is not separated by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier
  • The mandated PPE includes both
    • Medical-grade mask 
    • Eye protection
  • Cloth masks are not suitable as PPE. The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development has limited the use of cloth masks within the workplace to employees who are able to maintain a two-metre distance or who have a protective barrier. In these instances, cloth masks can be used. 
  • Most safety glasses used for impact protection are not considered adequate eye protection for COVID-19 safety. Please contact your safety consultant to determine if the safety glasses used in your work area have been rated by the manufacturer for this risk.

For more information about masks in the workplace, please visit the Government of Ontario's website called Using masks in the workplace.

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An illustration of a person staying home when sick  Isolate yourself when you're sick

To ensure employees are well and fit for work:

  • Do not permit employees to come to work if they have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • If employees develop symptoms while at work, they should notify their supervisor and return home. If symptoms are life-threatening, call 9-1-1.
  • Employees with symptoms should visit our  COVID-19 webpage for the latest guidance on next steps to take. There is currently no requirement for an asymptomatic employee to be tested before starting work.
  • Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and follow the Self-Isolation Instructions for Novel Coronavirus to reduce the spread.

Encourage customers to do their own health assessment and prevent entry into your establishment if they have symptoms by posting signage at your entrance. 

Encourage your customers and employees to download the COVID Alert app today to protect themselves and others. The app can let people know of possible exposures before any symptoms appear.

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Two illustrated people with a two metre double ended arrow between them  Stay two metres (six feet) apart from others

Develop a physical distancing plan. Think about how you will maintain distance between customers and employees. Post directional signage to support your plan throughout your business and at the entrance.

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an illustration of hands being washed  Exercise proper hand hygiene

  • Display posters promoting hand-washing and respiratory hygiene
  • Businesses are required to make alcohol-based hand rub available at all entrances and exits as part of the Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law.
  • Follow Public Health Ontario cleaning guidance to keep workplaces clean and hygienic. Increase frequency of cleaning high-touch surfaces such as elevator buttons, door handles keyboards, mouse, phones, desks, computers, seating areas, lunch tables, kitchens, washrooms, etc.

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Resources for employees and training

In a workplace setting, being COVID Wise means employees are informed on the importance of and how to implement all health and safety measures.

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Vaccine resource quick links

Signage and sector specific resources

Business Reopening Toolkit
The Business Reopening Toolkit, prepared in partnership between the City of Ottawa Economic Development Services and Ottawa Public Health (OPH), is your first stop for key resources including signage, tools, guidance documents, and more. The toolkit complements the public health information found on OPH’s Businesses and Workplaces page. It is intended to provide support to businesses in preparing for safe reopening and operation, subject to direction from the Province of Ontario. 

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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

The Ottawa Public Health Information Centre and COVID-19 Information line at 613-580-6744 will be closed on Monday, August 2.

  • 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

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