How to keep your employees safe and what to do if there’s a case in the workplace.
Cases of COVID-19 and workplace closures
Get information about managing cases of COVID-19 in the workplace, including reporting requirements and workplace closures.
Peel Public Health issued a class order under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act to owners of workplaces to exclude probable and confirmed cases of COVID-19 from the workplace, direct them to self-isolate and implement measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 within the workplace.
Current workplace closures in Peel
Refer to the list of workplaces that have been directed to close by Peel Public Health. These are workplaces that currently have 5 or more cases of COVID-19. These closures will allow Peel Public Health to investigate without risk of continuing the spread of COVID-19, and protecting employees and the community.
Employers are required to understand and follow all requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Reopening Ontario Act and Peel Public Health’s Section 22 Class Order for workplaces. Refer to these resources to understand your health and safety rights and responsibilities.
Employers are required to create and implement a COVID-19 workplace safety plan that describes the measures and procedures put into place to make the workplace safer for everyone. Discuss and share your plan with everyone in the workplace and ensure workers are trained on the measures outlined in the plan. Post it in a place where workers and visitors will see it and have it available upon request (for example, to inspectors or law enforcement officers).
Make sure your workplace safety plan includes the measures described below:
Health screening for employees and visitors
- Actively screen employees and visitors for COVID-19 symptoms and other risk factors at every building entrance before entering the workplace or at the start of a shift. Ensure that the privacy of personal information is protected.
- Online COVID-19 screening tools are available for workers and employees as well as customers and visitors.
- Do not allow the entry of anyone who has COVID-19, has signs or symptoms of COVID-19, is a close contact of someone with COVID-19 or with symptoms of COVID-19, or has travelled outside Canada in the past 14 days.
- If an employee develops symptoms while at work, they should go home right away to self-isolate and arrange to get tested.
- Keep a log of all employees and visitors who enter the workplace, including for any in-person meetings or events. This will support contact tracing and must be provided to Peel Public Health upon request.
- Display screening entry signs at all entrances to prevent entry of anyone who does not pass the screening (e.g., if they have symptoms of COVID-19)
Promote physical distancing
- Limit the number of people allowed within each room or space to maintain a distance of at least 2 metres between individuals, including in employee lunchrooms, change rooms, washrooms, and outdoor break areas (such as smoking areas).
- Rearrange or remove furniture and workstations to maintain 2 metres of distance between individuals in all shared areas.
- Install physical barriers where practical, especially when 2-metre separation between people cannot be achieved.
- Post physical distancing signs and install markers or directional arrows to ensure a 1-way flow of people.
- Ensure non-essential visitors are not permitted on the premises to reduce crowding.
- Allow employees to work from home for all tasks that can be done remotely to reduce in-person interactions as much as possible.
- Stagger employee start and end times and break times to avoid overcrowding and congregation.
- Inform employees from different households to avoid carpooling to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. If carpooling is the only source of transportation, follow Commute Ontario's carpooling guidance.
Encourage hand hygiene
- Educate employees to maintain good hand hygiene and clean their hands frequently, including before entering the workplace.
- Provide an adequate stock of hand hygiene supplies (e.g., liquid hand soaps, paper towel and hand sanitizers).
- Ensure that hand sanitizers contain at least 60 to 90% alcohol.
Enhance cleaning and disinfection
- Ensure proper and regularly scheduled cleaning and disinfection of tools and workspaces with a focus on regularly touched items and surfaces.
- Highly touched surfaces can include door handles, handrails, counters, tables, cabinet doors, elevator buttons, light switches, faucets, touch screen surfaces, and keypads.
- Provide an adequate stock of cleaning supplies that are effective against COVID-19.
- Ensure workers are trained on the safe and appropriate use of the cleaning and disinfection products used in the workplace.
- Assign tools, equipment, and workstations to a single user if possible, or limit the number of users.
Masks and personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) that provides protection of the eyes, nose and mouth, is required if a worker must come within 2 metres of another person who is not wearing a face covering, and is not separated by a plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.
- Provide employees with appropriate PPE including medical grade masks, if the work environment cannot always be adjusted to allow the required 2 meters distance.
- Ensure employees are trained on proper mask use and that masks are used correctly and consistently inside the workplace by all employees and visitors.
- Ensure PPE is disposed in a waste receptacle with a liner and a lid.
- If you need PPE and other supplies to keep your employees and customers safe, access the workplace PPE supplier directory.
- Learn about using masks in the workplace to help ensure you select the right type of masks for your employees.
Peel Public Health issued a class order under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act that requires employers to take additional measures, to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
Despite a workplace's best efforts to control the spread, workers and others who attend a workplace may test positive for COVID-19 or become exposed to COVID-19.
Peel Public Health is notified of all confirmed cases of COVID-19 through the provincial laboratory system. If there are clusters of cases that could have reasonably been acquired within the same workplace, we contact the employer to conduct an investigation.
Employers can refer to the following information to find out how to manage and report cases of COVID-19 in the workplace, and understand when a workplace must close.
If someone reports that they have symptoms of COVID-19 while at work
- Immediately send them home to self-isolate and get tested.
- Clean and disinfect the individual's workspace, common areas, and other highly touched surfaces (for example door handles, light switches, handrails, countertops).
- Review your workplace safety plan and ensure you're consistently implementing measures to keep employees safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Ensure that you screen employees and visitors for symptoms before they enter the workplace or at the start of a shift.
If someone in the workplace tests positive for COVID-19
- Public Health is notified of all positive COVID-19 cases and will contact the person to gather information, provide instructions on notifying close contacts (including contacts in the workplace), and other next steps.
- They must self-isolate for 10 days and not go into the workplace.
- Clean and disinfect the person's workspace, common areas, and other highly touched surfaces (for example door handles, light switches, handrails, countertops).
- Close contacts of the person with COVID-19 must immediately self-isolate for 14 days and get tested. They should follow these testing instructions to find out when they should get tested.
1 person tests positive for COVID-19 in the workplace
You're not required to report the positive case to Peel Public Health.
2 or more people test positive for COVID-19 within a period of 14 days
- Immediately notify Peel Public Health at 905-799-7700, or Caledon 905-584-2216. You'll be provided with specific instructions to assist you with managing the cases in your workplace.
- Gather contact information for the workers who tested positive for COVID-19. You’ll be provided with instructions to identify their close contacts in the workplace.
- Notify the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development within 4 days at 1-877-202-0008. You can also e-mail your notice to MLTSDoccillness.firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Notify the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) within 3 days at 416-344-1000 or toll-free at 1-800-387-0750.
- Advise your workplace's joint health and safety committee, health and safety representative, and, if applicable, the worker's trade union.
5 or more people test positive for COVID-19 within a period of 14 days
The workplace premises will be directed to close for 10 days by Peel Public Health under the class order for workplaces. This applies when:
- The cases could have reasonably acquired their infection at work, or no obvious source of infection has been identified outside of the workplace.
- Peel is in Grey-Lockdown zone in the provincial framework or under a Shutdown.
- Peel Public Health has provided written or verbal notice of closure.
Refer to workplace closures for more information.
Workplaces with 5 or more people who test positive for COVID-19 within a period of 14 days will be notified and instructed to close by Peel Public Health, through either written or verbal notice under the class order for workplaces.
Closures do not happen immediately when a workplace has 5 or more cases. Peel Public Health works with employers to ensure that closures follow a smooth process, with the goal of keeping all workers safe and informed.
Closures will allow Peel Public Health to stop further spread of COVID-19 between employees while cases in the workplace are investigated.
Peel Public Health will determine the extent of the closures:
- A full closure applies to an entire workplace premises.
- A partial closure may apply to a mass dismissal of a shift or work area.
If a workplace is directed to close by Peel Public Health, employers must:
- Close the workplace premises (full or partial) for 10 calendar days, or as specified by Peel Public Health.
- Instruct all affected employees to self-isolate. Workers who are isolating are not permitted to work in any other workplace to further restrict spread.
- If a notice of closure has been provided by Peel Public Health, post the notice at the entrance of the workplace in a manner that is noticeable to the public.
Workers of a closed workplace must be instructed as follows:
If a worker has COVID-19, symptoms of COVID-19, or is identified as a close contact of a person with COVID-19, they must follow the instructions outlined in the class order for self-isolation. Household members of these workers should follow these testing and isolation instructions based on their situation.
Workers who don't have symptoms but have been sent home due to workplace closure must self-isolate for 10 days or for such time as the workplace is closed. Their household members should also stay home during this time, except for essential reasons (such as picking up groceries or prescriptions, or attending work if remote work is not possible).
All workers cannot work in any other workplace during their period of isolation.
Workers who have symptoms or develop symptoms during their isolation period should get tested as soon as possible, even if they have tested negative before. All other workers who don't have symptoms but are sent home due to a workplace closure are also recommended to get tested. Employers will inform their workers if onsite testing becomes available.
Any worker who tests positive for COVID-19 must notify their employer immediately.
Employers should be aware that:
- Essential businesses will be exempt from full closure (such as healthcare facilities, schools and shelters). Refer to the full list of exemptions outlined in the Order on page 4, section 6.
- Businesses may still operate remotely, without persons attending the workplace premises.
- Temporary access to a closed workplace is permitted in certain situations. Refer to the situations outlined in the Order on page 4, section 7.
- Testing is not required to re-open the workplace premises or for a worker to return to work if they are asymptomatic.
- Disclosure of the names of all affected businesses will be published on our website while they are closed and removed once the closure is over.
- If a workplace meets the criteria for closure and has already voluntarily closed, they will still be issued an order for closure and publicly disclosed on our website.
- Employers required to close under these provisions are strongly recommended to provide paid leave for impacted employees.
Although businesses are entitled to request a hearing before the Health Services Appeal and Review Board according to the Health Protection and Promotion Act, all involved individuals or corporations are required to follow the Order and the closure Notice under the Order at the time it is conveyed to them.
Fines of up to $5,000 per individual and $25,000 for corporations may be payable upon conviction for failure to comply with the Order and Notice, for each day or part of a day on which an offence occurs or continues.
Resources for employees
We know that coping with COVID-19 can be stressful. The following resources can help support workers during their period of self-isolation:
In Peel, rapid testing for COVID-19 is currently being used in specific settings, such as workplaces and long term care homes. Peel Public Health works closely with workplaces that have a declared outbreak and will provide instructions to employers on rapid testing, if applicable.
Workplaces that do not have a declared outbreak, but are interested in conducting rapid testing should contact Ontario Health at email@example.com.
Individuals cannot request a rapid test from their health care provider, an assessment centre, or pharmacy.
Rapid testing process in workplaces
There are different types of rapid tests that can be used for individuals, whether or not they have symptoms. Rapid antigen-based tests (for example Panbio test) allow for preliminary test results to be provided more quickly than a standard COVID-19 test (such as laboratory-PCR test).
Positive antigen-based rapid test results may be considered preliminary and may need to be confirmed through a follow-up standard COVID-19 test (like a laboratory-PCR test) that’s taken at the same time or within 24 hours of the rapid test. The follow-up test is used to confirm whether the employee has COVID-19.
Some workplaces do a follow-up standard PCR-based COVID-19 test along with the initial rapid antigen-based test, while other workplaces will ask their employees to book an appointment at an assessment centre within 24 hours to get their follow-up test. All employees should follow the instructions provided by their workplace at the time of testing.
The following information can help employers understand the next steps if rapid testing is conducted in their workplace.
What to do after getting a rapid antigen-based test
If an employee tests positive during the rapid antigen-based test, unless directed otherwise by public health, they must:
- Get a follow-up standard PCR-based COVID-19 test to confirm if they have COVID-19.
- Self-isolate while awaiting the follow-up test result.
- Tell their household members to also self-isolate while waiting for the follow-up test result.
Workplaces must report preliminary positive results to Peel Public Health. Call us at 905-799-7700, Caledon 905-584-2216, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
If an employee tests negative during the rapid antigen-based test:
- If they have symptoms of COVID-19, they must continue to self-isolate and get a follow-up standard PCR-based test at an assessment centre to confirm if they have COVID-19.
- If they were exposed to a person with COVID-19, they must follow the instructions for self-isolation.
- If they have no symptoms and were not exposed to a person with COVID-19, they can resume work.
- If required, a negative rapid antigen-based test result may be confirmed at a lab through a follow-up standard PCR-based test that’s taken at the same time or within 24 hours of the initial test.
What to do after getting a follow-up standard PCR-based COVID-19 test
Employees who test positive during their follow-up standard PCR-based COVID-19 test (after first getting a rapid antigen-based test):
- Are confirmed to have COVID-19 and will be contacted by Peel Public Health.
- Must self-isolate for at least 10 days and tell the people they live with to self-isolate for 14 days from their last exposure to them.
Employees who test negative during their follow-up standard PCR-based COVID-19 test (after first getting a rapid antigen-based test):
- Are confirmed to be negative for COVID-19 (if the follow-up test was taken at the same time or within 24 hours of the rapid test).
- Next steps will depend on whether they have symptoms or were exposed to a person with COVID-19. They must follow the instructions for self-isolation.
Return to work for employees who test positive for COVID-19
- Employees who test positive for COVID-19 are contacted by public health and instructed to self-isolate for 10 days for mild to moderate illness provided symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours with no fever (temperature less than 37.8 C).
- Employees who test positive for COVID-19 do not require a negative test before returning to work.
- A person who continues to test positive is not infectious. They can return to work if they have completed the recommended self-isolation period and their symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours and they have no fever (temperature less than 37.8 C).
Learn more about self-isolating.
Return to work for employees who test negative for COVID-19
- A negative test does not automatically clear employees to return to work. This is because the virus may still be incubating and may not have been detected by the test.
- Employees who had close contact with a person with COVID-19 must self-isolate for at least 14 days from their last date of exposure, even if they tested negative. Employees who had close contact with a person with COVID-19 may also need to get tested again, depending on when they were first tested. Refer to the full instructions for close contacts.
- Employees who test negative with no close contact to a person with COVID-19 should self-isolate until their symptoms are resolved for 24 hours. If they had no symptoms, they do not have to self-isolate and can return to work.
Return to work for employees with symptoms who do not get tested for COVID-19
Employees who have symptoms of COVID-19 and do not get tested, must self-isolate for 10 days after symptom onset. They can return to work provided symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours and they have no fever (temperature less than 37.8 C).
Access more information about when it's safe for an employee to return to work.
Peel is under a provincewide stay-at-home order. For specific settings regularly inspected by Peel Public Health, refer to the following sections.
The Government of Ontario has developed sector-specific guidelines and posters to help protect workers, customers and the general public from COVID-19. For additional workplace-specific tip sheets and guidance, the Government of Canada has developed COVID-19 health and safety resources.
Local business support
Businesses can also access local business support from their municipality:
New rebate available for businesses
The Ontario government is offering rebates to help with fixed costs, such as property taxes and energy bills for your business. Find out if your business is eligible.
Complaints about businesses that do not follow mandatory COVID-19 measures can be reported.
Beware of people who may be posing as inspectors in your premises. Any public health inspectors entering a business would:
- Introduce themselves as inspectors from Peel Public Health or Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.
- Have a photo identification from Region of Peel or the Ministry.
- Have a business card and leave contact information for the operator to follow up.
If you’re unsure whether an individual is a public health inspector, call Peel Public Health to confirm at 905-799-7700, or Caledon 905-584-2216.
If you’re concerned about suspicious behaviour, report this to local police.
- Recommendations for reopening building water supply systems
- Preventing COVID-19 in the workplace: Employers, employees and essential service workers
- Risk mitigation tool for workplaces/businesses operating during the COVID-19 pandemic
- COVID-19 Disinfectants, sanitizers, cleaners and soaps
You can also access our translated resources for information in multiple languages.