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.
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.
Employers are strongly recommended to support employees in getting vaccinated and staying up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations, which is currently three doses for adults. Examples of employer support include:
In addition to COVID-19 vaccination, employers can also strongly encourage workers to get their annual flu shot during the influenza season.
Resources for encouraging vaccination:
Workplace COVID-19 vaccination policy
Niagara Region Public Health strongly supports those employers who are opting to continue mandatory vaccination policies for staff. Public Health recommends that organizations strengthen their workplace vaccination policies by adding a third dose requirement at four to seven months after the second dose. Use the information under what being vaccinated against COVID-19 means as a definition for your policy.
Learn how to create a COVID-19 vaccination policy if your workplace or organization doesn't currently have one in place.
Consult with legal and labour relations when designing or updating your workplace COVID-19 vaccination policy.
Niagara Region Public Health recommends employers have sick pay for workers so they don't feel economically pressured to come to work and work-from-home options for employees who need to isolate but are well enough to work.
Learn about income support for employees during COVID-19.
While most masking mandates are being lifted, workplaces can choose to continue masking policies for employees and / or customers as part of their ongoing operations. As the COVID-19 virus remains in high circulation in Niagara and continues to pose a risk in our community, Public Health strongly recommends the continued use of masking policies. Employers should consider having employees wear masks that are at least medical grade or higher at all times, especially if employees must work within two metres distance of others. Public Health recommends a masking policy that allows relaxation of masking during periods of lower virus activity, and resumption of masking when there are new waves of virus spread.
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.
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.
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:
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.