COVID-19 - Get vaccinated and stay up to date, and find public health advice for residents.

COVID-19 in the Workplace

This information is for workplaces and businesses, except health care settings. See specific information for schools, child care and camps and farmers and international agriculture workers (previously referred to as temporary foreign workers).

PCR testing in Niagara is only available to eligible individuals. Public Health recommends that employers do not request a negative PCR test for employees to return to work after isolation. Public Health is unable to clear employees for work. Use the self-isolation guidance to find out how long an employee should self-isolate or self-monitor.

Managing COVID-19 in the workplace

The following information and resources outline good practices to control the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Learn more about how to protect workers, customers and the general public from COVID-19.

Find more information on creating a COVID-19 workplace safety plan to help make your workplace safer.

  • Ventilation and filtration

    Workplaces should keep their heating, ventilation and air conditioning system set to be circulating air at all times. This is done by changing the thermostat fan setting from "auto" to "on." Ensure it has been recently maintained by a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system professional.

    Where a ventilation system is not present, keeping windows and doors open can increase ventilation, though this isn't as controlled as a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. Use screens in windows and doors to prevent flies and other pests from entering.

    Filtration of the air can further reduce the risk from aerosolized virus. Using a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value 13 or higher filter in a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, where the system can tolerate that level of filtration, is strongly encouraged. Only make adjustments to your system in consultation with a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system professional.

    Where a central ventilation / filtration system is not present, running a portable air purifier / cleaner with a HEPA filter is a recommended substitute. Such portable devices are best placed in the centre of a room (if the cord is not a tripping hazard) or in an area of unobstructed airflow and away from sources of fresh air. Larger rooms with more people might need multiple devices. When selecting a portable air purifier / cleaner, consider the rating of the device with respect to the size of the space in which it will be used to determine the appropriate model and / or number of devices for the space.

    If an investment in a HEPA air cleaner is not financially feasible, consider a do-it-yourself air cleaner using a box fan and MERV-13 filters. To find build specifications, search "Corsi-Rosenthal box" filters online. Examples include:

    Emerging ceiling-mounted ultraviolet technologies (upper-room ultraviolet germicidal irradiation) are also now available and supported by Public Health as a further measure to increase the safety of the indoors to COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses. These are usually more difficult to access and maybe costly to install.

    Public Health is also supportive of employers who want to incorporate carbon dioxide testing into their workplace. Carbon dioxide build-up above 800 ppm can indicate inadequate ventilation and signal the need to look at improvements in ventilation and filtration.

    Employers and employees can find more good practices on the behaviours to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and indoor ventilation: guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Find more information on how improving indoor ventilation can help protect against the spread of COVID-19.

  • Promote healthy hygiene practices

    Make alcohol-based hand rub available in the screening area and throughout the establishment, such as at each entrance, checkouts, tables, washrooms, etc.

    Employees should wash or sanitize hands between every interaction with customers or after frequent contact with high touch surfaces. When their hands are visibly soiled / contaminated, employees should wash their hands with soap and water instead of using alcohol-based hand rub.

  • Contacts

    A household contact is someone who lives with an individual who has COVID-19 symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19. Use the self-isolation guidance to find out when household contacts need to self-isolate.

    A workplace contact is anyone who was less than two metres away, even for short periods of time, in the 48 hours before symptoms began or a positive test result of another individual- whichever came first. Use this definition for when an employee has tested positive or has COVID-19 symptoms and you need to identify who was exposed as a contact. Use the self-isolation guidance to find out who must self-isolate and who can self-monitor for symptoms.

    What to do when one or more people have COVID-19 symptoms or test positive

    If someone is sick at work and / or if someone tests positive on a rapid antigen or laboratory PCR test, even if they have no symptoms, send them home to start self-isolation immediately. The following enhanced measures at the workplace are recommended:

    • Informing employees of the recent exposure so that they can be at increased vigilance for any symptoms of infection
    • Where possible, have all employees work from home for one week to stop any further spread of virus in the workplace.
    • For staff that aren't able to work from home:
      • Temporarily shift all possible employees to working from home for one week
      • Increase frequency of rapid antigen tests to three times a week, or even daily if supply allows for staff that are required to come in the office
  • Returning to work

    Learn about Self-Isolation and Return-to-work if there is a potential case or suspected exposure to COVID-19 at your workplace.

    If you have employees returning from international travel, you will need refer to federal quarantine or self-isolation travel requirements to find out when your employee can return to work.

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