Coronavirus resources for workplaces

While regulatory requirements have been removed, Waterloo Region residents are strongly encouraged to continue practicing public health measures and get vaccinated for COVID-19.

Businesses or organizations may continue to establish additional policies or requirements above the minimum standards of the regulations for patrons or employees. To get information to help develop a plan to protect workers, customers and the public from COVID-19, visit the COVID-19 and workplace health and safety web page.

Businesses and organizations can submit questions directly to the Ministry of Health.

Business support 

To view business support provided by both the federal and provincial government, please refer to Ontario's Support for Businesses and the Government of Canada's Support for Businesses

General principles applicable to any setting

  • Masks are still required in long-term and retirement homes. Masking is recommended in high-risk congregate living settings, such as shelters and group homes
  • While mask requirements are expiring, organizations may implement their own policies. Ontarians should continue to wear a mask if they feel it is right for them, are at high risk for severe illness, recovering from COVID-19, or have symptoms of the virus. A Self Assessment Tool (SAT) is available for workplaces that wish to continue active screening
  • If you are sick, stay home to prevent transmission to others, except to seek testing or medical care if required. For more information visit Ontario Ministry of Health Public Health Measures and Advice
  • Public Health does not provide letters clearing workers to return to work or for negative test results
  • Remind workers returning from travelling abroad to refer to the Canada Travel website for isolation requirements
  • Ensure all high-touch tools and surfaces are cleaned and disinfected regularly with Health Canada approved disinfectants. For detailed information, refer to the Public Health Ontario guide to environmental cleaning
  • Give workers more opportunities to keep their hands clean, for example by providing soap and water or hand sanitizer if soap is not available
  • Optimize indoor air ventilation
Reduce risk of transmission through ventilation

COVID-19 is spread mainly from person to person through close contact, for example, in a household, workplace or health care centre.

It is most commonly spread from an infected person through:

  • Respiratory droplets generated when you cough or sneeze
  • Close, prolonged personal contact
  • Touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands

The risk of transmission from aerosols is possible when there are a higher number of people indoors, for a longer period of time, with poor airflow or ventilation. With proper airflow or ventilation, the smaller particles will become diluted and disperse faster, similar to what occurs when you open windows to air out a smoky room.

While aerosols may contribute to the spread of COVID-19, close contact transmission is still the most common and efficient method of infection. Most infections are still linked to person-to-person transmission through close direct contact with someone who was contagious.

HVACs and their filters are designed to reduce airborne pollutants, including virus particles, when they circulate through the system. HVAC filtration can protect people indoors when used with other public health measures. It is important to ensure regular maintenance of the HVAC systems in your home, business, workplace or school.

  • Increase air-exchange settings on the HVAC system, if possible
  • Use the highest efficiency filters that are compatible with the HVAC system(s)
  • Keep areas near HVAC inlets and outlets clear
  • Arrange furniture away from air vents and high airflow areas

Have the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems assessed on a regular basis, and ensure they are meeting the expected standard for the facility.

For more information, please review Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems in Buildings and COVID-19 and Ventilation and COVID-19: Workplaces, Schools and Other Indoor Spaces

PCR Testing
PCR testing is no longer widely available to the public. Symptomatic employees should take the COVID-19 self-assessment and follow the directions provided regarding testing and isolation.
Rapid Antigen Testing

Positive Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) results do not require PCR/rapid molecular confirmatory testing. RATs can be used for:

  • Screen testing
    • Screen testing is frequent (at least once a week), systematic testing of people who are symptomatic and without known exposure to COVID-19 case with the goal of identifying cases that are pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic
  • For people with symptoms
  • Asymptomatic testing
    • If an asymptomatic individual without a known exposure to a COVID-19 case decides to complete a RAT outside of routine screening programs (for example prior to a social event/gathering/visit in a non-highest risk setting) then they should complete it as close to the event as possible (e.g. on the same day, ideally within a few hours of the event) and understand false negatives are common

Continue to follow all public health guidance to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. For more information, visit the COVID-19 Assessment and Testing Centres in Waterloo Region page.

For more information about Rapid Testing, check the following sites:

Case in the workplace

Workplaces are encouraged to have health and safety policies and procedures.

Public Health will no longer be following up directly with any cases or contacts identified in settings such as workplaces, events, public settings, and sports teams. Cases will be advised to notify their workplaces and other settings themselves.

As an employer, you are legally obligated under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to ensure that you, your workers and your workplace are in compliance with the Act. Failure to comply with the OHSA, puts your workers’ health and safety at risk.

Resources:

Workplace guidance 

If your workplace is not listed below, please consult Ontario's Resources to prevent COVID-19 in the workplace for sector specific guidance and guidelines for developing a COVID-19 workplace safety plan. To find companies that sell personal protective equipment (PPE) please consult the Workplace PPE Supplier Directory

Child care centres   

Child care settings can submit the Absent Staff and Children Reporting Form for Child Care Centres when their setting hits 30 per cent absenteeism above the baseline.

Please note: The purpose of this form is to report childcare absenteeism of children/staff that rises to 30 per cent above baseline. Each childcare should consider what a baseline absenteeism rate would be for their setting and report to public health only when they reach 30 per cent absenteeism above that baseline.

For more information, please check the Resources for Child Care Centres and Day Camps page.   

Employers of temporary foreign workers   

COVID-19 is highly infectious and continues to easily spread within households or communal housing. Consequently, the Federal and Provincial governments have outlined requirements for employers of temporary foreign workers to reduce the risks to workers and help employers maintain a healthy workforce.

Employers of temporary foreign workers are responsible for thoroughly reviewing government directives in the documents below and monitor for updates:

Requirements direct employers to contact local public health officials when:

  • A worker shows symptoms of COVID-19
  • A worker tests positive on a Rapid Access Test (RAT)
  • Expecting a new worker to arrive

Section 22 Order:

Although the Section 22 Order addressed to all persons who employ and house IAWs in the Region of Waterloo was rescinded as of April 29, 2022, it is strongly recommended to follow the best practices outlined in the Provincial Outbreak Guidance for international agriculture workers, including:

  • Daily active screening for all persons, including temperature checks for COVID-19 symptoms and exposure history, regardless of vaccination status in accordance with the COVID-19 Screening Tool for Businesses and Organizations (Screening Workers)  
  • Implement control measures to reduce the risk to their workers, including the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), specifically face masks for anyone indoors in the workplace
  • Continue to plan for international agriculture workers to receive COVID-19 vaccines including booster doses based on eligibility
  • Develop and update a COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan and Arrival/Quarantine Plan prior to international agriculture workers arrival

COVID-19 Vaccine 

The Province of Ontario has information on their website about COVID-19 vaccines and workplace health and safety, including information about workplace vaccination supports and policies.

Local public health units follow the guidance as outlined by the Ministry of Health. We are unable to provide specific advice to businesses or organizations regarding policy decisions for restricting access to their organization or event(s) based on vaccination status. If you are seeking legal advice about policy decisions in regards to individuals who are not vaccinated, we would recommend that you consult with a lawyer.

Vaccine resources for employers 
Where can I find vaccine information for my business or event? 
For more information and resources about the COVID-19 vaccine please check the COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs page. 
Workplace vaccine clinic 

Region of Waterloo is no longer offering Region-led mobile clinics at workplaces but will support your business in holding an independent clinic by offering:

  • Vaccination information resources
  • Clinic planning information support
  • Connection to various COVID vaccine related health service organizations in the Region

If you represent a business or organization within the Region of Waterloo and are interested in holding an independent vaccine clinic at your workplace, please email: WorkPlaceVaccineClinic@regionofwaterloo.ca

For more information about the Region’s vaccination clinics please check the Region of Waterloo Get a Vaccine webpage. 

General workplace resources

Personal protective equipment 
Proper hygiene and cleaning 

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