Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19
Main Page Content
Key strategies to prevent and control respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, in childcare settings:
- Children or staff who are ill with fever and/or infectious respiratory symptoms should stay home from child care/work.
- Consistently practise good respiratory etiquette (e.g., sneezing/coughing into a tissue or elbow) and hand hygiene (e.g., frequent handwashing with soap and water).
- Ensure regular and routine environmental cleaning of the home/facility.
- Reinforce “no food sharing” policies.
Please visit the Ministry of Education for Operational Guidance During COVID-19 Outbreak.
If an individual (child, visitor, etc.) shows symptoms of COVID-19, provide them with a surgical/procedure mask. If they cannot wear a mask ensure that the individual providing direct care to the person with symptoms wears a mask. Separate them immediately from others in a supervised area until they can go home or be picked up. If possible, stay two metres from the individual. When the individual has left, clean and disinfect the area where they were separated. For more information, see the Ministry of Education Operational Guidance
Yes. Unlicensed child care settings are required to actively screen all children, staff, and visitors.
Please visit the Ministry of Education for further guidance on screening for symptoms.
The Ministry of Education, in consultation with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour, has released a guidance document to support the operation of child care programs with enhanced health and safety guidelines.
The WECHU has also published a COVID-19 Guidelines for Child Care Centres in Windsor and Essex County - FR document to assist child care centres with re-opening and operational procedures.
Some of the enhanced health and safety requirements include:
- Cohorting staff and children to decrease the number of people each child is exposed to.
- Limiting the number of locations each staff works at
- Establishing health and safety policies and procedures, following the advice of local public health units. This includes enhanced cleaning and disinfecting, changes to regular operations within the centre, physical distancing requirements, and protocols for isolating and sending home any staff or children who show signs or symptoms of illness.
- Guidance on the use of protective personal equipment (PPE)
- Enhanced safety measures for drop-offs and pick-ups
- Establishing screening procedures to assess symptoms related to COVID19
In addition, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit will work closely with operators to provide advice and recommendations to ensure the safety of staff, children and their families.
Each centre may have different procedures depending on their available space. The Ministry of Education encourages each centre to share information of their new health and safety procedures with families.
Parents should contact their child's daycare for more information on specific measures to follow once they reopen.
COVID Alert Exposure Notification App
If you have tested positive for COVID-19 and you have COVID Alert installed on your phone, you can choose to notify other app users who have been within 2 metres of them for more than 15 minutes during their contagious period, without sharing any personal information. To send the notification, you must first request a 10-digit “one-time key” through the Government of Ontario COVID-19 Test Results website. You can then choose to enter this one-time key into the app. When you do, all users who meet the criteria for close contact will receive a notification. The notification contains no personal information and other app users never know the identity of the person they were in contact with, or the time, location or place of exposure.
Download COVID Alert on your iPhone or Android from the App Store or Google Play. Once the app is downloaded, open the app and give permission to enable notifications. Once set up, no action is required unless you have been exposed to or have tested positive for COVID-19.
COVID Alert does not collect or share the identity, personal information or location of any user. The app does not use GPS or track location data. Phones exchange randomized codes, and those codes are automatically destroyed after 14 days.
Users must explicitly choose to turn on exposure notifications and can turn them off at any time. Users also decide whether they want to send alerts to other app users who were near them, without sharing personal information, if they test positive for COVID-19. Users have full control of their information while using COVID Alert.
When the app is downloaded on a cell phone, the phone exchanges randomized codes with other phones that have the app when the phones are nearby by, using Bluetooth. The app doesn’t collect or share any personal information such as the name, phone number, location, or testing status of a user. All you need to do is download the app, allow notifications, and have Bluetooth turned on. The app will run in the background, using minimal data and battery power. Data on the user’s phone is stored for up to 14 days, at which point it is destroyed. The data is encrypted, and personal information is never collected or stored.
The app determines whether users have been exposed based on current public health guidance. Currently, any user who has been within 2 metres of a user who has tested positive, for more than 15 minutes within the past two weeks, is deemed to have been exposed to COVID-19.
Users who have tested positive will have the option to provide either their symptom onset date or their testing date (if they have no symptoms). This information is used to determine the dates the user was likely most infectious and notifies those in close contact accordingly. If the user does not enter their symptom onset date or their testing date, the app defaults to a 14-day exposure window and will notify all users who may have been exposed in the past 14 days.
Users can only send alerts to other app users who have been near them if they obtain a confirmed positive test result and receive a “one-time key” through the Government of Ontario website – where most Ontario COVID test results are available.
If you tested negative for COVID-19 following an exposure notification alert, you are not required to self-isolate. You should self-monitor for 14 days from when you received the exposure notification alert and continue following public health guidance (e.g., limiting close contacts, physical distancing, wearing a facemask). However, if you were contacted by public health through routine contact management processes, you must follow the advice of the public health authority which may include re-testing and/or self-isolating.
Health care providers working with COVID-19 patients, or patients who may test positive at a later date, may disable notifications while at work to avoid receiving exposure notifications related to these interactions. A user can change the settings on their device to disable COVID exposure notification logging and not impact other apps or features on their device. Remember to turn these notifications back on once you have left your workplace.
To disable COVID exposure notification logging:
On iPhones – Go to Settings, then choose Privacy, then Health, then COVID-19 Exposure Logging.
On Android phones – Go to Settings, then choose Google, then COVID-19 Exposure Notifications.
Most Ontarians can access test results through the provincial online lab results viewer. If you cannot access test results online, contact the clinician who ordered your test or your primary care provider.
The period of self-isolation should begin from the day that you got a COVID-19 test.
No. The app will not tell users when the exposure occurred to ensure the privacy of app users.
If you’ve been notified by COVID Alert, or think you’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, follow these steps on the Government of Ontario website.
COVID Alert is a voluntary exposure notification app. Exposure notifications are alerts that people can receive on their cell phones to let them know if they’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The app will send a notification to your phone if it detects that you’ve been within 2 metres of a user who has tested positive for COVID-19, for more than 15 minutes within the past two weeks. Exposure alerts are only sent when a user who tests positive chooses to send them. The app will then provide you with the latest public health advice and resources, and recommended next steps. The app cannot determine whether personal protective equipment was worn during exposure.
For more information about the COVID Alert app, visit the Government of Ontario website.
The app was developed in partnership between the provincial government and the federal government using free, open source software created by volunteers from Ontario tech company Shopify. It is built using the privacy-first Apple-Google Exposure Notification platform. Volunteers from Blackberry have provided an external security review of the app.
No. All users who receive an alert that they have been exposed will be advised to get tested at their nearest assessment centre and self-isolate pending results.
Yes. If you do not have an OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) card, you can still get a vaccine by presenting another form of a government issued-photo ID such as a driver’s license, passport, Status Card or other provincial health cards.
It is recommended to speak with your health care provider before you receive the vaccine if you have any pre-existing health conditions or concerns.
Guidance for special populations, including pregnant and/or breastfeeding women, individuals with autoimmune conditions and immunocompromised persons, and individuals with allergies is available in the Vaccination Recommendations for Special Populations guidance document.
Individuals who have previously had COVID-19 can still receive the second dose. Individuals cannot receive the vaccine if they currently have COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19. If you have received the first dose, you can receive the second dose if you have fully recovered and have no symptoms.
Yes. Please continue to follow current public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Vaccines work by teaching your immune system how to produce natural protection that prevents you from becoming sick if you are exposed to the virus in the future. The vaccine provides your body with something that looks like the infection so that your immune system can learn how to produce natural protection, without exposing you to the virus that causes COVID-19. All four of the vaccines are administered by injection as a needle in the upper arm.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use a method called messenger RNA (mRNA) which acts as a code that tells your cells how to make a piece of the outer lining of the virus, for a short period of time. This piece of the virus is enough for your immune system to learn how to recognize and be ready to fight off the virus, but it cannot hurt you.
The AstraZeneca and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines are slightly different in that they use a harmless non-replicating viral vector, which produces components of the outer lining of the virus. These will not cause COVID-19 infection, but it remains in the body long enough to build an immune response to the virus.
All four of the vaccines are administered by injection as a needle in the upper arm. Learn more about the Extension of the Second Dose Interval.
- Pfizer-BioNTech – Two doses*
- Moderna– Two doses*
- AstraZeneca – Two doses*
- Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) – One dose
*Effective March 10th, all second doses will be scheduled 4 months following the first dose.
It is very important that you receive the second dose, if required. Both doses are necessary to promote continued immunity to COVID-19.
Individuals who have been vaccinated will receive receipt of vaccination and if they consent to receive information electronically, they can receive a digital receipt via email.
Yes. If you have already had COVID-19, have fully recovered from it, and are eligible to receive the vaccine under Ontario’s phased distribution plan, there are no limitations on receiving COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.
It is very important that those who have tested positive for COVID-19 not leave isolation to try to obtain a vaccine. Individuals must complete their isolation period, be symptom free, and meet current eligibility criteria before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
See current vaccination clinics and sites, and information related to registration for eligible individuals, by visiting our website. As our region continues to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, there will initially be a limited supply.
Please note that the provincial government’s three phase vaccine distribution plan sets the order and priorities for distribution for local public health units to follow. The groups selected in each phase are based on an ethical framework established by the Government of Ontario.
As availability increases, they will be more widely available and the WECHU will continue to update the community.
To stay up to date with vaccine availability and when you may be able to receive the vaccine, continue to visit wechu.org regularly, sign up for WECHU email alerts, and watch our regular YouTube updates.
When a large percentage of the population becomes immune to a disease, in this case - COVID-19, the spread of the virus will slow down or stop. This is known as herd immunity. In most cases, 80 to 95% of the population must be immune to a disease to stop its spread and achieve herd immunity.
Until vaccines are widely available in our region, we all must continue to follow local public health advice for our region and avoid travelling. Read about current public health advice for our region.
COVID-19 vaccines should not be received at the same time as other vaccines. You can receive other vaccines after at least 28 days after you receive the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. You should wait 14 days after receiving another vaccine before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
For the current distribution phase, daily doses administered, total doses administered, and total vaccinations completed, visit the Government of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccines for Ontario webpage.
The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccines have each been approved by Health Canada and are used to prevent COVID-19. View Health Canada’s authorized vaccines for COVID-19. Before any vaccines are available in Ontario or Canada, they undergo large clinical trials to determine if they are safe and effective. Health Canada has maintained the same quality standards for review and approval of COVID-19 vaccines as were in place before the pandemic.
As more vaccines are made and distributed, the Government of Canada expects to be able to offer free vaccination to every Canadian who wants one
A ‘variant’ is when the virus has changed or mutated. Some variants of the virus can become a concern for public health when the mutation or change makes it harder to stop the spread. For example, a variant of concern (VOC) can:
- Spread more easily
- Cause more severe symptoms
- Make it harder to diagnose
- Affect the effectiveness of the vaccine
The provincial distribution plan has not been altered due to the VOCs. Ontario is currently in Phase 2 of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan and continues to administer vaccines to the province’s most vulnerable populations.
Public health is monitoring variant strains of COVID-19 and ensuring safety recommendations are followed in order to stop the spread of the virus. For more information, visit Public Health Ontario’s website.
COVID-19 Vaccine Myths and Facts
Fact: There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines cause any problems with fertility.
Fact: Similar to other vaccines, individuals can develop short-term and mild side effects after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Ongoing research on the vaccines indicates serious side effects are extremely rare. Experiencing mild side effects, such as pain where the needle was given, tiredness, chills, headache, and muscle pain can be expected and indicates that the vaccine is working to produce protection or immunity. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine side effects.
Infection with the COVID-19 virus can lead to a variety of longer lasting, mild to severe symptoms. Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, new or worsening cough, tiredness, shortness of breath, sore throat, lack of taste and/or smell, nausea, and more. Learn more about COVID-19 symptoms.
Fact: Both mRNA and viral vector COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way.
Fact: The COVID-19 vaccines were developed quickly, however, are still safe and effective. Only vaccines that Health Canada determines to be safe and effective will be approved for use in Canada and Ontario. The progress on COVID-19 vaccines is happening quickly for many reasons including:
- Research on other strains of coronavirus before COVID-19 (e.g. Sars-CoV),
- Advances in science and technology,
- International collaboration among scientists, health professionals, researchers, industry and governments, and
- Increased dedicated funding.
Health Canada has maintained the same scientific and quality standards for the review and approval of COVID-19 vaccines that were in place before the pandemic. All four approved vaccines are effective at preventing severe, symptomatic infection with COVID-19.
Fact: You cannot get the COVID-19 virus from the COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19 and do not cause the disease they are designed to prevent.
Fact: Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 may contract the virus again and would still benefit from the protection of the vaccine. It is important to follow public health guidelines after you have recovered from COVID-19 to protect yourself from contracting the virus again.
No. Children are not at a higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. The majority of confirmed COVID-19 cases are in adults.
Symptoms in children are generally mild; however, children with serious underlying conditions might be at a higher risk for severe illness with COVID-19. Parents are advised to call their health care provider or complete the online assessment tool if their child is showing symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19.
The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in children and adults; however, children may experience atypical symptoms/signs that should be considered. Please visit the Ministry of Health COVID-19 Reference Document for Symptoms for more information about common symptoms, other symptoms/signs, and atypical symptoms/signs of COVID-19.
Parents are advised to call their health care provider if their child is feeling unwell or showing common symptoms, other symptoms/signs, or atypical symptoms/signs of COVID-19.
Yes. Mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 must isolate themselves in their homes as much as possible and practice physical distancing by keeping a two metres distance from others in their home. However, there is an exception when mothers are caring for their baby. Mothers may stay in the same room as their baby if they’d like, but should take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus to the baby:
- Wash hands often, especially before and after touching the baby or other children.
- Wear a medical mask, or if not available, a non-medical mask or face covering if close contact with others and the baby cannot be avoided. The mask should completely cover the nose and mouth without gaping.
- Keep their surrounding environment clean and disinfected.
Yes. A mother with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 can still breastfeed. When breastfeeding with COVID-19, women should cough or sneeze into their bent elbow or a tissue, wear a mask, wash their hands and breast before and after touching the baby, routinely clean and disinfect surfaces, and consider covering the baby with a light blanket or towel during feeding.
Breastfeeding women should be aware of symptoms associated with COVID-19 and contact their health care provider early on if they feel unwell.
Yes. Breastfeeding mothers can continue to breastfeed if their child has COVID-19. If you are feeding with formula or expressed milk, sterilize the equipment carefully before each use and do not share bottles or pump.
There is currently not enough evidence to indicate that a pregnant mother can pass the COVID-19 virus to her fetus or infant during pregnancy and delivery. Additionally, the COVID-19 virus DNA was not found in the amniotic fluid, placenta, and breastmilk from pregnant women with confirmed COVID-19.
There is insufficient evidence at this time if COVID-19 can cause problems during pregnancy.
Physical distancing is the best option to avoid spreading the virus to a newborn or other household members. However, if families choose to have visitors, they should follow these tips to protect their family from getting the virus. Families are recommended to limit the amount of visitors to reduce their number of close contacts. While everyone loves snuggling with a baby, ask visitors to keep a safe distance from the baby to reduce the spread of germs. Do not have visitors if anyone in the home has or may have COVID-19. The WECHU advises new parents to avoid visits from anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19, has travelled within the last two weeks, and is sick. And remember, if a family chooses not to have visitors, that’s ok too, because only they know what’s best for their family.
Families are advised to contact their healthcare professional if they have questions about their newborn. Depending on individual family situations or health needs, a healthcare professional may provide alternative advice.
No. Caesarean sections should only be performed when medically justified. Mode of birth should be based on a woman’s preferences alongside obstetric indications.
If a child engages in suicidal behaviour, seek help from a mental health professional immediately. If they’re experiencing a mental health emergency, call 9-1-1 or visit the nearest emergency room. When visiting an emergency room, individuals will have to participate in an active screening for COVID-19. Individuals who require immediate assessment, psychosocial intervention, medical intervention, and support may also call the Community Crisis Centre of Windsor-Essex County @ 519-973-4435 available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, try visiting the Kids’ Help Phone Resources Around Me to find helpful mental health resources and programs.
To care for a child with COVID-19 at home, monitor for worsening symptoms, which may include fast breathing, difficulty breathing, confusion, an inability to recognize you, chills from a fever or a fever that will not come down with fever-reducing medication (e.g., ibuprofen, acetaminophen) for more than 12 hours. In addition, the caregiver should wash their hands and their child’s hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after any type of contact with the child and after removing gloves. Only one healthy person should provide care for the child.
If the child has symptoms, all members of the household should stay home to prevent spreading the virus to others. Members of the household should only leave for medical attention (e.g. appointments or for COVID-19 testing).
If a child develops severe symptoms, call 9-1-1. When calling an ambulance, tell the dispatcher that the child has/may have COVID-19. If a child is going to the hospital in a private vehicle, call ahead and let them know they have/may have COVID-19. For more information on how to care for a child with COVID-19 at home, please visit the Government of Canada website.
Parents should maintain communication with their children while being patient and understanding. Parents know their children best, but may want to consider these tips:
- Stay calm.
- Don’t complicate the situation, keep it simple and clear.
- Listen to children’s fears and thoughts.
- Keep information age appropriate.
- Limit news and media exposure.
- Try to establish a flexible routine.
This may be a challenging time for children as they may not understand why schools are closed or why they can’t visit other family and friends. Children may begin to worry about themselves, their families, or friends getting sick. It is important to talk to children about COVID-19 to help reduce their fears. When talking to children:
- Emphasize that they and their family are ok.
- Avoid using language that might blame others.
- Provide information that is honest and accurate.
- Acknowledge their fears.
- Provide facts about what has happened.
- Explain the overall risk of getting the virus.
- Give clear information about how they can reduce their risk of being infected.
- In a reassuring way, explain what happens if they or a family member gets sick.
- Discuss any questions they may have.
- Reassure them that symptoms in children are generally mild.
- Use words that they understand.
Please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for further guidance on how to talk to children about COVID-19.
Yes. Hospitals and birth centres have put in place visitor restrictions, screening protocols, and other infection and prevention controls to protect the public, patients and staff for the potential transmission of COVID-19. Before giving birth, pregnant woman are encouraged to learn about the policies in place if they plan to give birth in a hospital or birth centre. Pregnant woman who have COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider about their birth plan. The birth plan should be individualized and based on their preferences, the safety of the care provider, as well as obstetric recommendations.
Yes. Pregnant women and women who have recently gave birth, including those affected by COVID-19, should attend their routine care appointments. Discuss with your healthcare provider as virtual options may be preferred and call before all appointments.
A child might be struggling with their mental health if they have changes in behaviour or emotions (e.g., angry outbursts or depressed mood) that last most of the day or for a period of time (e.g., more than a week), or interfere with their thoughts, feelings, or daily functioning. In addition, if they tell their parents they feel sad or anxious a lot or if they express thoughts of hurting themselves. If a child engages in suicidal behaviour, seek help from a mental health professional immediately, call 9-1-1, or visit the nearest emergency room. When visiting an emergency room, individuals will have to participate in an active screening for COVID-19.
Please visit our Where to Access Help & Resources page for information on where to access help and mental health resources.
There are many safe activities that you can enjoy with your family while avoiding large crowds.
- Go for an evening walk. If you have dogs, include them as well. That way everyone benefits from being active.
- Explore a local park or green space area. Go for a hike on a park trail or path. You could even try some birdwatching while on the hike.
- Enjoy a family bike ride through the neighbourhood or on some of your local park trails.
- Grab a soccer ball, basketball, or football that you can kick or throw around in your yard or at the park. Be creative with your children on different ways you can play some games with the equipment.
- Bring some chalk outside and play hopscotch or other fun jumping/skipping games with your children.
- To get everyone in the family moving and away from those screens, include the whole family in cleaning or helping out with some yard work around the house.
Homeless Shelters & Group Homes/Co-Living Settings
- Expect that the homelessness service sector and residential settings will be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and anticipate modified service delivery based on staff capacity.
- Plan for staff and volunteer absences. Staff may need to stay home from work if they are sick, caring for a sick household member, or caring for children in the event of school dismissals.
- Identify critical job functions and positions at the shelter and plan for alternative coverage by cross-training current employees or hiring temporary employees/volunteers as required.
Unless you are a healthcare facility personal protective equipment should be ordered through your regular supplier. Healthcare facilities can order through the Ministry of Health or reach out to their local public health unit for assistance.
- Routine cleaning followed by disinfection is a best practice to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Facilities should follow their protocols for regular cleaning and disinfection.
- Commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are effective against COVID-19. Check the expiry date before using cleaners and disinfectants, and always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use to ensure their effectiveness.
For more information about cleaning and disinfecting for co-living settings check out the shelter guidance document.
- If close contact (less than 2 metres) is required with the unwell individual (e.g., assisting with bathing or taking medication), use PPE as required for Droplet and Contact Precautions.
- Tasks that do not involve close contact and direct care with an individual suspected/ confirmed with COVID-19 do not require additional PPE than what is normally used.
- Tasks that require close contact and direct care with residents who are otherwise healthy, do not require additional PPE than what is normally used.
- PPE is not required for administrative staff who do not have direct contact with clients.
- Provide a surgical/procedure mask for clients experiencing respiratory symptoms. It must be worn when in close contact with others.
- Masks and gloves should be worn by the person performing active screening at the entrance if there is no physical barrier between them and those entering.
- Staff should wear gloves and a gown when doing laundry or gloves when performing general cleaning or handling clients personal belongings.
- Drivers/passengers should wear masks when transporting clients with symptoms.
For more information about PPE use in shelters/group homes see the guidance document.
Hospitality Sector (Food Premises, Bars)
- Patio coverings, canopies, tents, should be as high as possible – recommended at least 3 meters in height. Umbrellas are allowed for sun shade.
- All patios and outdoor dining and beverage areas must be open to the air on at least 3 sides to allow for adequate air circulation.
Blocking of open sides with plants, walls, etc. is not permitted.
Vendors and volunteers are required to wear a mask at outdoor Famer’s Markets. If the farmer’s market is indoors, vendors, volunteers and customers are required to wear a mask.
The number of tables allowed depends on the size of the approved outdoor patio or dining area. Consult your municipality for bylaws and other requirements for setting up an outdoor patio or dining area.
Tables must be removed and/or re-arranged to ensure that there is a minimum of 2 metres (6 feet) between each edge of every table and 2 metres (6 feet) between the seated occupants of different groups.
Co-mingling of different groups should be avoided (e.g. banquet style seating that is shared by different groups).
For any additional restrictions/guidance, please visit Fact Sheets for Specific Businesses and Organizations.
Singing, dancing, and or performing music may be performed by someone who is hired by the establishment at a restaurant or bar, with restrictions (including barriers between the performers and patrons and physical distancing).
Please note: Dancing, singing and live performances are prohibited under the ‘Control - red’ and 'Grey - lockdown' level of the Ontario’s public health measures. Visit our Local Pandemic Status page for Windsor and Essex County’s current level of public health measures.
Please visit ‘Restaurant, Bars and Food or Drink Establishments’ on our Fact Sheets for Specific Businesses and Organizations page for current restrictions and health measures for indoor/outdoor dining.
While dining or drinking on an outdoor patio, or in an open air setting of a food premises, non-medical masks or face coverings should be worn when physical distancing cannot be maintained. Masks are not required for outdoor food pick up windows (i.e. drive-thru’s or mobile food trucks).
When using any indoor space of the premises, the wearing of a mask IS required. This includes:
- Indoor take-out counters
- Indoor dining area except when seated at a table
- Food preparation areas that are open to the public.
For Owners/Operators and Staff of Food Premises
Non medical masks or face coverings are required in areas accessible to the public, and in areas inaccessible to the public when staff cannot maintain a physical distance of 2 metres from each other.
In addition to wearing a non-medical mask or face covering, staff must wear eye protection when they are within 2 metres of patrons who are not wearing a non-medical mask or face covering. Review our fact sheet on approved eye protection for staff.
Please visit the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website for more information regarding this topic.
Self-isolation is recommended to reduce the likelihood that an individual who is or may be infectious with COVID-19 from spreading it to others. Self-isolation is recommend and/or directed by a person’s healthcare provider or public health.
To learn when to self-isolate and how to self-isolate, visit How to Stop the Spread.
If you are unsure if you should self-isolate, visit Have COVID-19 or Been Exposed, complete the online self-assessment, or contact the WECHU @ 519-258-2146, Telehealth @ 1-866-797-0000, or your healthcare provider.
You need to self-monitor if you currently have no symptoms but believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19 or have been identified as having low risk exposure to COVID-19.
Learn how to self-monitor.
A simple ‘spray and wipe’ won’t work – instead, surfaces should first be cleaned with soap and water, and then disinfected with approved agents. Allow the agent sit for 10 minutes before wiping. Visit the Government of Ontario website to learn more.
Long-Term Care Homes and Retirement Homes
Direction on long-term care home visits will be adjusted as necessary on the Government of Ontario website. There are many rules and restrictions in place to help protect residents and staff in these homes. It’s always best to call the home prior to planning a visit to ensure that you are well informed.
The Ontario government has established alert levels for areas based on the degree of COVID-19 transmission within a community and infection spread within retirement homes. To find out the alert level of Windsor-Essex County, visit Information for Shelters and Long-term Care Homes. This chart can help you understand what restrictions are in place for each of the alert levels, and for homes that are experiencing an outbreak.
Additional information is also available in the Ministry document “Retirement Home COVID-19 Visiting Policy - FR.” which includes information about visitor restrictions for each alert level.
Long-Term Care Homes are subject to strict health and safety protocols, including:
- Requiring visitors to pass active screening every time they visit,
- For indoor visits with a LTCH resident, general visitors, support workers and caregivers must verbally attest that they have tested negative for COVID-19 in the previous 2 weeks.
- Complying with the infection prevention and control protocols. This includes bringing and wearing a face covering during visits and maintaining physical distancing during the visit.
Additionally, long-term care and retirement homes, as well as other residential care settings, must meet the following conditions before they welcome visitors:
- Homes must not be in outbreak;
- Homes must have an established process for communicating visitor protocols and safety procedures; and
- Homes must maintain the highest infection prevention and control standards.
Long-term care and retirement homes must implement active screening of all staff, visitors and anyone else entering the home for COVID-19 with the exception of emergency first responders, who should, in emergency situations, be permitted entry without screening. For staff, screening must include twice daily (at the beginning and end of the day or shift) symptom screening, including temperature checks.
All visitors must have their temperature checked upon entering, answer the screening questions, wear a mask for the duration of their visit and adhere to any other required guidelines.
Anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 should not be allowed to enter the home and should go home immediately to self-isolate. Staff responsible for occupational health at the home must follow up on all staff who have been advised to self-isolate based on exposure risk.
According to the Government of Ontario’s Reopening Retirement Homes, residents who return from an absence that includes an overnight stay must follow 14 days of enhanced precautions. Residents who are following the 14-day period of enhance precautions may leave the home for non-overnight absences. Doing so will not reset the 14-day time period. An overnight stay during the 14-day period will reset the 14-day time period.
According to the new Ministry of Health COVID-19 Provincial Testing Guidance Update Document
If a resident living in a long-term care or retirement home develops symptoms of COVID-19, asymptomatic residents living in the same room should be tested immediately along with the symptomatic resident.
In the event of a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19, all staff in the entire home AND all residents in the home should be tested.
The Health Unit may also, based on a risk assessment, determine if any additional testing is required or, whether any of the above-mentioned individuals do not require testing.
Re-testing of asymptomatic individuals who initially test negative, is recommended if they develop symptoms.
A single case of COVID-19 in a long term care or retirement home is considered and outbreak and will trigger a number of other infection prevention and control activities within the home, in addition to already enhanced precautions that are in place. This may include the cohorting of staff and residents to certain areas to help reduce any additional exposures, audits on infection prevention practices, and regular visits from local public health to support the home to successfully navigate and end the COVID-19 outbreak as quickly as possible.
For more information on requirements for long-term care and retirement homes visit the long-term care section of our website.
With COVID-19 outbreaks occurring in long-term care and retirements homes, some families may have questions about whether they should move their loved one out of a facility and into a home care setting.
Since support from home care agencies such as CCAC is limited at this time, it is important for families to fully understand the complexity of care their loved one requires and base their decision on whether at-home care can adequately and safely accommodate their needs. A comprehensive decision tool has been developed by Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, the University of Ottawa and the National Institute on Ageing to assist families with making this decision. Things to consider include whether or not a home setting is equipped for wheelchair accessibility in bedrooms, bathrooms, and eating areas. Their loved one may also require medications or other support that requires trained medical professionals to provide.
It is also important to be aware of a facility’s re-admission policy, and be assured that accommodations will remain available for the resident to return at a later time.
The decision to move a loved one from an institution and into home care is very complex, and should be made in consultation with family members, the facility, and health care providers.
As part of the Ministry of Health COVID-19 Outbreak Guidance for Long-Term Care Homes, any single confirmed case of COVID-19 who is a staff person or resident of a long-term care home or retirement home is considered an outbreak for COVID-19.
A long-term care home is removed from the outbreak list after 14 days with no new positive cases. For more information on other respiratory or enteric outbreaks please visit our Outbreaks Page.
The WECHU, works with homes to determine testing and support ongoing infection prevention and control practices as well as outbreak management. Health Inspectors are in regular contact with long-term care homes to provide guidance and support.
Long-Term Care and retirement homes must adhere to requirements as stated in COVID-19 Directive #3 for Long-Term Care homes. This includes conducting active screening of all staff and residents, at minimum twice daily (at the beginning and end of day). Anyone who fails the screening is required to immediately isolate. The home must ensure that staff Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is available near the point of care for all residents and that staff do not have to walk far to access it. PPE includes disposable gowns, gloves, procedural masks and eye protection. All symptomatic residents must be tested for COVID-19.
Staff are also required to work in only one facility at this time to limit the number of work locations and minimize the risk of spread of COVID-19.
For more information about long-term care and retirement homes visit the long-term care section of our website.
COVID-19 spreads mainly from person-to-person through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Droplets can travel up to 2 metres (6 feet) so wearing a face covering that covers your mouth, nose, and chin will help prevent respiratory droplets from reaching others or landing on surfaces.
Wearing a face covering in public spaces protects others from your respiratory droplets. This is especially important in situations where physical distancing is often difficult or inconsistent such as commercial establishments.
The use of face coverings must be used in combination with good hand hygiene, not touching your face, and physical distancing whenever possible.
For more information, see Masks and Face Coverings
No. Eye protection, including goggles, safety glasses or face shields should be worn in conjunction with a face mask/covering and are not a replacement or acceptable substitute for a face mask/covering.
For more information about personal protective equipment including authorized products, medical gowns and face shields visit the Government of Canada’s website.
It is not necessary for a person to present evidence to a business if they are entitled to any of the exemptions. Please be advised that businesses may have enacted policies which extend beyond the Provincial Order and refuse entry to any person not wearing a face covering.
Visit our Face Masks and Coverings page for more information, including exemptions.
Current restrictions for Personal Care Services can be found on our Additional COVID-19 Guidance for Personal Care Services page.
WECHU has created a poster for businesses to post to alert any customer, patron, employee or visitor about the mask policy.
Wearing a mask can increase your risk of infection if you touch your face more frequently while readjusting it or if you do not wash your hands before putting it on and taking it off. All parts of non-medical masks (i.e. cloth masks) can become contaminated by breathing or when touched by your hands.
When taking off a non-medical mask (i.e. cloth mask), follow these steps:
- After washing your hands, remove your mask by pulling the ties or ear loops away from your ears.
- Put the mask directly into the washing machine, or in a bag that can be emptied into the washing machine. Throw out the bag after you have used it to store used masks. If the bag is washable you can wash it with your mask. Wash your hands again after removing your mask.
- When discarding damaged or worn out masks, drop them in a lined garbage bin.
- Do not leave any discarded masks in places where others can come in contact with them such as shopping carts, public seats, bus stops, or on the ground.
It is recommended to wash reusable face coverings as often as possible, when they become soiled/wet, or at the end of each day. Face coverings can be washed with your regular laundry on the warmest water suitable for the material, and dry on the highest heat setting or air dry, including putting it in direct sunlight if possible.
Visit the Ministry of Health’s web page for more information on the cleaning of non-medical masks.
Under the Provincial Order, employees are required to wear a face covering at all times in areas accessible to the public. In areas inaccessible to the public, employees are required to wear a face covering when physical distancing of 2 metres cannot be maintained.
Using a face mask during periods of extreme heat may make breathing difficult, cause adverse skin reactions, and create discomfort due to extreme heat. When mask use is not feasible, maintain a physical distance of 2 metres from others. Learn how to protect yourself in extreme heat.
Under the Provincial Order, face coverings are required in workplaces, even those that are not open to the public. In indoor areas inaccessible to the public, face coverings are required when staff cannot maintain a 2 metre physical distance with each other.
For more information, visit Face Masks and Coverings.
Medical masks were created to provide protection from droplets, splashes and sprays to the nose and mouth of the wearer. The outer side is fluid resistant, the middle layer provides filtration, and the inner layer is absorbent (for moisture from breathing, coughs, or sneezes). Medical masks also provide source control, containing the wearer’s own droplets inside the masks and thus protecting others.
Cloth masks can be considered for use for source control only. Cloth masks filter the expulsion of viral droplets from the wearer making them suitable for source control.
Face coverings do not have to be fancy or expensive but must completely cover the mouth and nose and provide a barrier limiting the transmission of infectious respiratory droplets and can include:
- A medical mask,
- A non-medical mask or face covering
Note: masks with exhalation valves are not recommended as they do not protect others from COVID-19 and do not limit the spread of the virus. Medical masks (surgical, medical procedure face masks and respirators like N95 masks) should be reserved for use by health care workers and first responders.
For more information on non-medical masks visit Public Health Agency of Canada website. For more information about personal protective equipment including authorized products, medical gowns and face shields visit the Government of Canada’s website.
A disposable mask should be removed and replaced if soiled, damaged, or hard to breathe through and should be discarded at the end of the day.
A mask should be replaced with a clean mask if it becomes damaged, damp, dirty, or if it no longer follows the Government of Canada requirements.
Non-medical masks can be re-used throughout the day if clean and intact – with clean hands, fold the mask in half so that the outer surface is inwards (so that the outer surface is not contacting anything during storage) and place it in a clean, sealable bag until ready to use it again the same day.
Under the Provincial Order, face coverings are required in public indoor spaces and whenever physical distancing is a challenge.
- Public spaces (for example, inside stores, event spaces, entertainment facilities and common areas in hotels)
- Workplaces, even those that are not open to the public
- Vehicles that operate as part of a business or organization, including taxis and rideshares
See the full regulation.
The use of face coverings is recommended in situations where physical distancing (spatial separation of individuals by at least two metres) is difficult to maintain, including in outdoor areas. However, face coverings are not required in outdoor areas or inside a private dwelling. In addition, a face covering is not required in common areas of dwellings and areas inaccessible to the public only IF a physical distance of 2 metres can be maintained.
Summaries and links to the provincial mask Order and additional local mask bylaws for Windsor-Essex can be seen here: Face Masks and Coverings
Under the Provincial Mask Order, any person (employee, visitor, or patron) who enters indoor areas of a commercial establishment, business or organization that is open, or in a vehicle that is operating as part of the business or organization is required to wear a face covering. Face coverings and masks are to be worn in a manner that covers the mouth, nose and chin during any period in an indoor area, unless they are exempt.
Although the Provincial Mask Order mandates the use of face coverings there are some individuals who are exempt from wearing one.
Exemptions include if a person:
- is a child under the age of two years.
- is attending a school or private school within the meaning of the Education Act that is operated in accordance with a return to school direction issued by the Ministry of Education and approved by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health;
- is attending a child care program at a place that is in compliance with the child care re-opening guidance issues by the Ministry of Education
- is receiving residential services and supports in a residence listed in the definition of “residential services and supports” in subsection 4 (2) of the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008;
- is in a correctional institution or in a custody and detention program for young persons in conflict with the law;
- is performing or rehearsing in a film or television production or in a concert, artistic event, theatrical performance or other performance;
- has a medical condition that inhibits their ability to wear a mask or face covering;
- is unable to put on or remove their mask or face covering without the assistance of another person;
- needs to temporarily remove their mask or face covering while in the indoor area,
- to receive services that require the removal of their mask or face covering,
- to engage in an athletic or fitness activity,
- to consume food or drink, or
- as may be necessary for the purposes of health and safety;
- is being accommodated in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005;
- is being reasonably accommodated in accordance with the Human Rights Code; or
- performs work for the business or organization, is in an area that is not accessible to members of the public and is able to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person while in the indoor area.
See the full regulation.
- Establishments may choose to have disposable masks available for the public, but it’s not a requirement, visitors of the establishments will be responsible for having their own mask.
- The Public Health Agency of Canada provides sew and no-sew instructions on their website explaining how to make your own masks with materials such as bandanas and t-shirts.
- Make sure each cloth mask is made of at least three layers and can be laundered multiple times without losing shape or deteriorating.
- If you are looking to buy masks, individuals and groups locally have been making masks and offering them for sale as well as popular online retailers are selling them on their websites.
Several steps can be taken to reduce stigma related to COVID-19:
- COVID-19 has affected people from many countries across the world. Do not attach COVID-19 to any ethnicity, nationality, or geographical location. It is important to be empathetic towards those who have been affected by COVID-19 in any country, as those with the disease have done nothing wrong.
- Use person-first language to describe individuals that may be affected by COVID-19. In other words, rather than referring to individuals with COVID-19 as “COVID-19 cases”, “victims”, or “the diseased”, refer to these individuals as “persons being treated for COVID-19” or “persons who are recovering from COVID-19”.
- Speak out against stigmatizing behaviours or negative statements about certain groups of people regarding COVID-19. Correct misconceptions that people believe or may spread.
- Raise awareness about COVID-19 by sharing facts from credible sources.
- Support people who may be experiencing stigma or discrimination related to COVID-19, by reassuring them that they have done nothing wrong.
Find opportunities to amplify positive and hopeful stories about individuals who have experienced COVID-19. This may include stories about people who have successfully recovered from the disease and are willing to share their experiences with others.
Engage in positive self-talk. During times of uncertainty, stress and anxiety can cause people to focus on “what if” situations or worst case scenarios. This may leave people feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, or vulnerable. Positive self-talk strategies can help shift negative ways of thinking into more helpful mindsets. These strategies may include the following:
- Think of stressful experiences in the past and remind yourself about the skills used to cope with them. Remember that people are resilient and use coping skills every single day. Continue to remind yourself that you can handle stress and that family, friends, colleagues, or professionals are available for additional support if needed.
- Try to replace catastrophic thinking with positive thoughts. This may include statements such as, “This is a difficult time, but we will get through this together” or “I am resilient and will get through this”.
- Try to focus on things that you can control during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as maintaining proper hand hygiene and practicing physical distancing. For situations that are beyond an individual’s control, try to shift emotional responses to these situations by focusing your attention on other activities or tasks, such as those listed above for self-care.
For more great tips, please see CAMH’s resource for challenging worries and anxious thoughts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Every person will respond differently to the COVID-19 crisis and will have a different method of coping. Some people cope by venting to friends or family members about their thoughts and feelings, while others may want to problem-solve or participate in a fun activity. Regardless of coping style, loved ones can offer support to family members and friends experiencing anxiety or stress during the COVID-19 crisis by:
- Listening to the person non-judgmentally and empathizing with their situation. Try to understand where the person is coming from and always maintain open lines of communication. Remind the person that it is normal to feel stressed or anxious during this time.
- Taking an interest in the person’s well-being by asking how they prefer to be supported. This may involve simply listening to the person, helping them to problem solve, or taking them for a walk.
- With the person’s permission, share credible facts with them about COVID-19 from reliable sources, such as this website or other governmental or health authorities.
- If the person is open to it, share resources with them about coping with stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Continue to check in with the person on a regular basis to offer support and assistance. Be mindful of your abilities to help in certain situations and know when it is appropriate to refer to professional support.
If the person is experiencing high levels of stress or their mental state is significantly hindering their ability to cope, encourage them to reach out for support from a mental health professional. Please see the supports and services listed below for more information.
Stay up-to-date on accurate information from legitimate sources. Limit the amount of time spent watching or listening to media that may cause stress, anxiety, or fear. Get the facts about COVID-19 by seeking information from credible and reliable sources that can be trusted, such as this website or those from other credible, governmental health authorities, such as Health Canada or Public Health Ontario. These credible sources can help to distinguish facts about COVID-19 from rumours. Facts help to minimize fears, worries, and anxious thoughts.
Stigma often occurs as a result of fear and uncertainty about things that are not fully understood. Stigmatization is especially common in disease outbreaks, such as COVID-19. The mass of information flowing through social media and other media sources about COVID-19 can create misconceptions about the disease that may cause further uncertainty, anxiety, or fear. These misconceptions can result in social stigma towards people, places, or things, which may appear through the following ways:
- Attaching COVID-19 to a specific ethnicity, nationality, or geographic location, even though not everyone in these populations are specifically at risk for the disease
- Blaming a person or group of people who may have the virus for “being careless and spreading the illness”
- Socially avoiding or rejecting persons released from COVID-19 quarantines, even though they are no longer considered a risk for spreading the disease to others
- Avoiding local places associated with myths about the virus, such as restaurants or grocers owned by people from specific nationalities or ethnicities.
Simple strategies for self-care and to reduce stress include:
- Follow the usual measures for reducing the risk of transmitting respiratory illnesses.
- Maintain a regular and consistent sleep routine, getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night. In
- Take breaks both at home and at work.
- Engage in daily physical activity. This may include taking the dog for a walk, riding a bike, or getting a head start on spring cleaning.
- Eat healthy and sufficient foods at regular intervals according to Canada’s Food Guide. Stay connected to friends and family members virtually
- Participate in enjoyable activities.
- Keep a reflective journal. Practice meditation or relaxation techniques.
- Engage in deep breathing techniques.
For more information on building a self-care and resiliency plan, please see the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Self-Care & Resilience Guide. This guide includes self-care and resiliency-based planning activities that can help individuals map out and organize their strategies for self-care.
It is okay to feel stressed or anxious during this difficult time. Recognizing and acknowledging signs and symptoms of stress is the first step to establishing a plan for managing them. Stress includes physical symptoms like headaches, muscle tension, Emotional symptoms like sadness or anger, and behavioral symptoms like poor judgement and risk taking. For more about stress and mental health resources go visit here or CAMH site for coping and COVID-19.
The COVID-19 crisis can cause stress and anxiety for individuals and communities. Considering the level of attention and concern that is being paid to the COVID-19 pandemic world-wide, it is normal to feel stressed or anxious.
Stressful conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- COVID-19 is a new virus that is still being learned about every day. Given the uncertainty about COVID-19 and the constant changes that are unfolding, it is natural for people to feel worried or stressed.
- Media coverage about COVID-19 is on the rise. The amount of information being delivered to the public about COVID-19 can be overwhelming for people, and may increase fears about the physical safety, health status, and wellbeing of individuals and their loved ones.
- COVID-19 has disrupted the lives and regular routines of many people. Factors contributing to this disruption include the closure of schools, daycares, workplaces, recreational facilities, restaurants, and other public spaces to which individuals routinely interact.
- People may feel stressed about their lack of access to routine services and activities, such as meeting friends for dinner, exercising at the gym, or going to the movies. This may result in feelings of loneliness, boredom, or social disconnection.
- People may feel stressed about locating and maintaining child care while schools are closed
- People may be concerned or worried about their income, finances, or job security during workplace closures.
- The challenges of securing things that families need during the crisis, such as groceries and personal care items, can also be a stressor.
For those who feel overwhelmed by feelings of stress, anxiety, or other emotions related to COVID-19, it is important to talk to someone about how you are feeling. Reaching out for support in these situations can be very helpful in managing stress and reducing overwhelming thoughts or emotions. There are several local supports and services available for assistance.
For information about mental health or substance use services in Windsor-Essex County, please contact Connex Ontario at 1-866-531-2600. Connex-Ontario offers free and confidential health services information for individuals experiencing mental health, substance use, or gambling issues. It also maintains a centralized and up-to-date database of treatment service information. By calling the above phone number, timely and accurate information about the services available in Windsor-Essex County will be provided, including:
- A detailed description of the service
- Where the service is located
- How to access the service
- How long the wait to access the service may be
For more information, please visit connexontario.ca/.
For more on local resources related to mental health visit our webpage here.
Multi-Unit Dwellings & Rentals
- Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly and often.
- Cough and sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue. Dispose of the tissue immediately and wash your hands.
- Create an emergency preparedness plan to ensure you have what you need if you need to self-isolate.
- Stay in your room or unit if you are experiencing symptoms and complete the online self-assessment if you think you are sick or have been in contact with someone known to have COVID-19.
- For further assistance contact your health care provider or Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000.
- Regularly clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces in your unit, especially if in shared living spaces.
- Practice physical distancing
While it has been shown that increasing ventilation (e.g., opening windows when weather permits) may help reduce the transmission of other viruses such as influenza, there is currently no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be spread through ventilation systems.
For more information, see Interim Guidance for Multi-Unit Dwellings
- Postpone any non-urgent inspections, renovations, or repair work, if possible.
- Close all onsite recreational amenities (e.g., pools, gyms) and gathering spaces (e.g., party or entertainment rooms).
- Limit the number of people that gather in shared spaces such as lobbies, hallways, mail rooms, laundry rooms to no more than 5 people or less if physical distancing cannot be maintained.
- Consider removing frequently touched items (e.g., decorative objects and non-essential furniture) from shared spaces that may be difficult to clean and disinfect.
- Increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfection of commonly touched surfaces in the building to at least twice a day and when visibly dirty.
- It is strongly recommended that surfaces and objects are first cleaned and then disinfected.
- Some areas to focus on are laundry room appliances (e.g., washers, dryers, baskets, and counters), door handles, light switches, mailboxes, stairwell railings, elevator buttons, and buzzer systems. ·
- Although commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are effective against COVID-19, it is recommended that disinfectants contain an 8-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN) which indicates that the product has been approved for use in Canada.
- Make sanitizer stations available in commonly used areas, if possible.
- Encourage anyone recently returning from international travel to self-isolate for 14 days in their unit and use delivery options if they need food, groceries, or other supplies.
- If symptoms develop, individuals should complete the online self-assessment to determine next steps.
People Who Use Substances or Smoke
- The use of tobacco harms your respiratory system which is the main area of the body that COVID-19 attacks.
- It also weakens your immune system making it harder for your body to fight off the virus.
- Individuals who smoke may already have lung disease, reduced lung capacity, or cardiovascular disease which increases their risk of serious outcomes if they contract COVID-19.
- Conditions that increase oxygen needs or reduce the ability of the body to use it properly will put patients at higher risk of serious lung conditions like pneumonia.
- People who smoke or vape are likely to be at higher risk of getting COVID-19 as the act of smoking means bringing your hands to your face, increasing the likelihood of transmitting the virus.
- It is known that smoking increases the risk of both bacterial and viral infections.
- Smoking equipment, such as e-cigarettes and water pipes, often involve the sharing of mouth pieces and hoses, which can transmit the virus between people.
The high prevalence of chronic medical conditions among people who use drugs suggests that they may be at higher risk of getting infected with COVID-19. Recreational drug use is linked with reduced pulmonary function and immune suppression, both of which are risk factors for COVID-19. Because COVID-19 attacks the lungs, people who smoke or vape drugs are likely to experience severe respiratory symptoms if they become infected. With evidence showing that the odds of COVID-19 infection becoming severe is 14 times higher among people who had a history of smoking compared to those who don’t smoke, more attention should be focused on people within this population. Some examples of severe respiratory complications from drug use include;
- Tobacco and nicotine dependence from the use of cigarettes and vaping devices have been associated with negative health outcomes such as cancer, bronchitis and emphysema.
- Cannabis smoke has been shown to cause chronic bronchitis, a respiratory condition that could be worsened by COVID-19
- Smoking crack cocaine has been associated with lung damage and severe respiratory problems. Thus, with the imminent reduced lungs function from COVID-19, people who use drugs would likely experience negative health outcomes.
- Methamphetamine, an opioid drug, has been shown to reduce lung function by constricting blood vessels. A COVID-19 diagnosis could further lead to poor prognosis.
- Opioid use can negatively impact the body’s immune system. As a result, people who use drugs may be at a higher risk of getting infected with COVID-19 virus.
- Identifying and maintaining essential services such as client services, payroll and communication
- Creating internal policies and emergency operations plan specifically for dealing with people who use drugs.
- Anticipating potential medication and equipment shortages and creating contingency plans to deal with supply chain disruptions.
- Identifying and stockpiling essential supplies that are required for service delivery
- Anticipating potential staff shortages and creating mitigation plans such as cross-training employees on critical job functions, creating flexible attendances and sick-leave policies
- Currently this is not known. However, it is well know that quitting smoking improves lung health quickly
- Visit the Smokers’ Helpline webpage to learn more about the health benefits of quitting smoking.
If, in the course of your work, you encounter a client with a suspected case of COVID-19, it is recommended that you immediately report this to your Supervisor/Manager. The following are safety measures that you may consider implementing;
- Educate clients about safer drug use
- Provide clients with drug use education to prevent sharing of drug supplies and equipment.
- Focus education on the need for social distancing in order to by advising clients to reduce physical contact with other people who use drugs wherever possible
- Clients should be advised to prepare their drugs themselves
- Ensure health monitoring and surveillance activities for people who use drugs
- Identify and isolate individuals who show signs of a respiratory infection
- Closely monitor symptoms and immediately refer serious cases to the hospital
- Maintain hygiene
- Provide COVID-19 prevention supplies such as soap, alcohol-based sanitizers, trash baskets and face-masks for clients at the facility.
- Maintaining a clean space is critical in curbing the spread of COVID-19 your facility. Workers are advised to regularly disinfect and clean surfaces
- Educate clients about proper hand hygiene methods and encourage them to immediately report symptoms
- Stock up on supplies
- Stock up on essential supplies such as personal protective equipment, First Aid supplies, needles, syringes and naloxone.
- Recommend buddy up system for people who use drugs
- It is advisable for clients who are on quarantine to find buddies who can bring them food, harm reduction supplies, medicines and drugs that they require.
- Ensure clients maintain 2 meters from their buddy in order to minimize the risk of transmitting infected respiratory droplets from person to person.
Some professionals will provide tele-rehabilitation (using technology to access physiotherapy services at a distance when an in-person visit is not possible), but there are also some on-line and self-help resources available to patients to utilize to manage chronic pain without the use of opioids or other pharmacological therapies.
- Patients and clients should be advised to practice good hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette (e.g., sneezing into a bent elbow or disposable tissue), and to practice social distancing as much as possible and maintain a distance of 2 meters from other people.
- Engage in physical activities while at home rather than consuming alcohol or other mood altering substances, as exercises can strengthen your immune system and would be more beneficial to your body in the near-term and long-term.
- Patients and clients should be advised of virtual recovery options. Social connectedness is a key part of recovery from substance use for many people. Twelve step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous have physical meetings that people are encouraged to attend in person. Now that people are practicing social distancing and self-quarantining, to limit the spread of COVID-19, virtual resources are essential.
People who use substances may be at an increased risk of COVID-19 due to a number of physical, social, or environmental reasons.
- Compromised health as a result of substance use due the effect that vaping, smoking, opioid-use, and methamphetamine can have on breathing and lung health.
- Opioids slow breathing and have been shown to increase mortality in people with respiratory illnesses, like COVID-19.
- Methamphetamine has been shown to cause significant lung damage and which could worsen the symptoms of COVID-19.
- Alcohol use can negatively impact the immune system as well as respiratory health by weakening the lungs and upper respiratory system, causing a person to be more prone to respiratory diseases.
- Withdrawal symptoms can be severe and harmful for those who are not able to access the substances on which they depend due to supply issues caused by COVID-19.
- High-risk activities for people who use substances who may be less likely to follow instructions around physical distancing and more likely to engage behaviours such as sharing drug equipment.
- Stigma, social marginalization and economic challenges, including a lack of access to housing and health care can add to risk during this time.
Healthcare providers in RAAM clinics are encouraged to make modifications. Here are some recommendations from the network of RAAM clinic administrators and care providers across Ontario (META:PHI, 2020).
- See already-connected patients over OTN or telephone.
- Perform screening tests at the door, and see patients who screen positive through a protective barrier (e.g., a mask, a window, etc.).
- Provide masks to all patients who do not already have one.
- Increase the distance between seats in the waiting room.
- Ask patients with both cell phones and cars to wait in their cars rather than in the waiting room, and call or text them when it is their turn to be seen.
- Extend prescriptions for stable patients.
- Dedicate additional hours to booked appointments with walk-in patients who cannot be seen during regular walk-in hours due to limited space and capacity.
A patient who screens positive or is in self isolation should have someone from outside of their household to pick up their medications or the pharmacy should arrange for the delivery of medications.
Health Canada’s policy position Transportation of Controlled Substances in Canada permits pharmacists to transport controlled substances to patients with an appropriate prescription. During COVID-19 the The Office of Controlled Substances has issued a short-term subsection 56(1) exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (Health Canada, March 23, 2020). Subject to the laws and regulations of the province in which the pharmacist is entitled to practice, this exemption will authorizes pharmacists to:
- Prescribe, sell, or provide controlled substances in limited circumstances,
- Transfer prescriptions for controlled substances.
In Ontario, a pharmacy owner or designated manager should determine the most appropriate process, considering the particulars of the medication with respect to security and storage and articulate this process to the pharmacy team. For further guidance please review Ontario Pharmacy Association’s COVID-19: A Pharmacist’s Guide to Pandemic Preparedness
For professionals in the healthcare sector that work with people who use substances there are unique considerations due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Some of these include:
- Potential medication shortages,
- Pharmacy disruption to dispensing
- Patient illness or quarantine
Access to prescription medications may be limited during this time. So it is important to work with clients, especially those that are taking Opioid Agonist Therapies (OAT), such a methadone and buprenorphine. New interim guidelines (March 23, 2020) for management of OAT address office visits, remote visits, carry doses, and frequency of urine drug testing during the COVID-19 pandemic. For additional guidance visit: www.metaphi.ca (METPHI/OMA, March 22, 2020).
Some patients that use substances or have a substance use disorder may find self-isolation and stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic could worsen their problems. Additional information on supports for these patients can be accessed at SUB-Section: Specific recommendations I can make to my patients or clients who use substances?
- It is not currently known if former smokers have a higher risk of getting COVID-19 compared to people who have never smoked.
- People who smoke are at increased risk of lung infections in general, but the lungs do heal relatively quickly when people stop smoking. It is not yet known how long is long enough to reduce the risk to the same as someone who has never smoked.
- If you previously smoked and are now quit, it is likely you will have a lower risk of severe complications (if you were infected with the virus) than you would have if you were still smoking.
When administering naloxone to client, use a face shield with one-way valve masks as it provides adequate protection to the harm reduction worker and the client. It is important to note that the use of bag valve mask, high flow oxygen and non-rebreathers may increase the risk of transmission due to possible contact with respiratory droplets.
Outpatient treatment options are to be used to the greatest extent possible, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the risk of viral infection from COVID-19, it is recommended that intensive outpatient treatment services be utilized whenever possible.
Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare’s Withdrawal management services, community withdrawal management, and Windsor Addiction Assessment and Outpatient Service (WAAOS) Assessment and Referral Program are all still available to clients, requiring support with detoxification to safely withdraw, as well as support to access treatment services.
Erie St Clair Clinic - Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) Clinic also provides fast access to treatment for individuals with opioid or alcohol dependence. The program provides assessment and medical treatment using approved drug therapies, along with other services and referrals.
Community Crisis Centre offers service 24 hours a day, seven days a week to individuals who require immediate assessment, psychosocial intervention, medical intervention, and support. Follow-up crisis counselling and referrals.
- Adapting spaces within your facility in order to increase physical distancing between clients.
- Establishing measures to prevent overcrowding such as limiting the number of visitors at the facility and reducing the duration of stay.
- Ensuring that the environment is kept clean and frequently disinfected to protect the health of the workers and clients at the facility.
- Educating clients about respiratory etiquettes to prevent spread of COVID-19
- Creating spaces within the facility that can be used to accommodate clients who show symptoms of respiratory illness.
- Monitoring the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit website for current information related to COVID-19.
Patients and clients should be advised of virtual recovery options. Social connectedness is a key part of recovery from substance use for many people. Twelve step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous have physical meetings that people are encouraged to attend in person. Now that people are practicing physical distancing and self-quarantining, to limit the spread of COVID-19, virtual resources are essential.
Personal Service Settings
It is unlikely that the virus (and other bacterial pathogens) would survive if introduced into nail polish, therefore single-use nail polish is not necessary. It would be important to ensure clients are screened and perform hand hygiene prior to any services in order to reduce the potential for pathogens to be introduced into the polish.
Yes, a child may be accompanied by an adult if the appointment is for the child. Children should not accompany a parent/guardian to the adult’s appointment. All individuals, including a parent/guardian accompanying a child, are to be screened for COVID-19 prior to entry.
No. Waiting areas should be closed and clients should be advised to wait outside or in their vehicle until called for their appointment. Visual cues (e.g. indicating with tape) may be considered to assist clients with maintaining physical distancing outside.
Food/beverages should not be supplied to clients at this time, unless in extraordinary circumstances (e.g. tattooing on a client who feels faint). Clients should not bring outside food or beverages into the Personal Service Setting unless required for a medical condition.
There is limited concrete data on whether this presents a risk of COVID-19 spread; however, blow dryers do have the potential to spread contaminated air and droplets around a room, if there is an infected person onsite, particularly if no mask/face covering is worn by the client (as a form of source control). Blow drying can be done if all staff and clients are masked and if cleaning and disinfection of instruments, equipment and workstation surfaces occurs between each client. For clients who cannot tolerate a mask/face covering, the appointment is to be made at the end of the day when there are no other clients on-site and the stylist is to wear appropriate personal protective equipment
Yes, provided the number of staff and clients is restricted at one time, a 2 metre distance between staff and clients is maintained, hand hygiene is performed between clients, and there is enough time in between clients to ensure workstations and equipment are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
Establishments providing personal care services can reopen with the proper health and safety protocols in place, including all relevant legislation and guidance.
Please note that personal care services are closed under the Grey - Lockdown public health level. Visit our Local Pandemic Status page for current restrictions.
Provided the PSS is screening clients, disinfecting the units between each use, encouraging mask use, and asking clients to perform hand hygiene prior to having any services, nail dryers may still be used.
Yes. Where towels are normally used, a clean towel is to be provided to each client and laundered after each use using the warmest possible setting and dried thoroughly.
No, all workers are not required to wear gloves while they are at work. According to Medical experts, putting on gloves should be considered as an additional protective measure in circumstances where employees are prone to touching items in common areas, and where they may be exposed to chemical and biological agents.
We recommend that when gloves are required, they should not be used in isolation but in combination with other public health directives, such as physical distancing and good hand hygiene practices, as they have been proven to be highly effective in reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission. For more directions on how to properly use Personal Protective Equipment to protect yourself against COVID, visit Public Health Ontario website.
Yes, all equipment should be properly cleaned and disinfected after each use. This is a requirement under s.10 (4) and s.10(5) of the PSS Regulation. For more detailed information on cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing, including disinfection strengths and contacts times in a PSS, please refer to Public Health Ontario’s Guide to Infection, Prevention and Control in Personal Service Settings, 3rd edition. No additional frequency or level of reprocessing is needed as reprocessing of instruments and equipment as per the Guide to IPAC in PSS document is sufficient to inactivate COVID-19.
A clean cape should be used for each client. Capes should be washed between clients. Where possible a single-use barrier (e.g., towel, paper neck strip) can be used to avoid direct contact between the client’s neck and the cape.
As of Monday, June 22, 2020, ALL staff and customers in commercial setting are required to wear a cloth or non-medical face mask in commercial settings at all times. This includes stylists and receptionists. Staff should receive instructions on proper mask use and how to properly put on and take off a mask.
It is up to the operator if they would like to supply (or make available for purchase) clients with masks/face coverings or require that customers/clients bring their own. If homemade masks are made available for purchase to clients, they are not to be laundered and reused by the personal service setting.
All clients and staff should be actively screened for COVID-19 prior to entry. For clients, this should be done when booking their appointment and upon arrival for their appointment to ensure nothing has changed. Staff should also be screened prior to starting each shift. For further guidance on screening procedures, consult the Ministry of Health's website. Temperature taking is not necessary as part of the screening process.
Operators should ask clients not to touch the nail polish bottles or have them placed behind barrier to select from. Clients should perform hand hygiene prior to receiving a manicure.
Pharmacy COVID-19 Vaccination
Yes. If you do not have an OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) card, you can still get a vaccine by presenting another form of a government issued-photo ID such as a driver’s license, passport, Status Card or other provincial health cards.
All four vaccines are effective at preventing severe, symptomatic infection with COVID-19. The AstraZeneca vaccine is highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Even one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine can lower the risk of a COVID-19 infection leading to hospitalization. The best way to prevent COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in Canada is to increase population immunity. The more people who receive vaccines, the more we will be able to reduce or prevent community spread.
The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is safe and authorized for use in Ontario. However, it is associated with a very rare side effect known as Vaccine-Induced Prothrombotic Immune Thrombocytopenia (VIPIT). For more information, view Health Canada Statement: AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine & Thrombocytopenia. If you have concerns about whether this vaccine is right for you, please contact your health care provider.
The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is being administered through the participating pharmacies. Please visit wechu.org/cv/vaccine to learn more about the vaccines currently available. If you have any concerns about whether this vaccine is right for you, please contact your health care provider.
If you are physically distancing, you may leave your home for essential trips (such as work, grocery shopping, or picking up medication) while still limiting contact with others. Self-isolation means that you do not leave your home (unless for medical attention), and you avoid close contact with individuals in your home.
Physical distancing helps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect our community. Physical distancing means limiting the number of people you come into close contact with, and reducing your interactions with others by staying home, when possible, and keeping a distance of 2 metres (6 feet) or more from others.
Learn more about Physical Distancing.
No. Prescription eyeglasses are not accepted as a form of eye protection as they may not fully cover the eye area and do not provide coverage from the side. If prescription eyeglasses are worn, another type of eye protection must be worn over the eyeglasses.
Eye protection, such as goggles, face shields, and safety glasses, can be re-used by the same user if it is cleaned/disinfected after each use or until it becomes cracked or visibility is compromised. Eye protection must be cleaned and disinfected between uses. When dry, store in a labelled paper or plastic bag.
All eye protection should be properly cleaned and disinfected between uses. If manufacturer instructions for cleaning and disinfecting protective eyewear is unavailable:
- Perform proper hand hygiene; carefully wipe the inside, followed by the outside of the face shield or goggles using a clean cloth saturated with neutral detergent solution or cleaner wipe.
- Carefully wipe the outside of the protective eyewear with a healthcare grade disinfecting wipe.
- Wipe the outside with clean water or alcohol to remove residue.
- Allow to fully dry by air or use a clean absorbent towels.
- Perform proper hand hygiene.
Remove the eye protection by grasping the side arms and pulling the eye protection forward without touching the front of the eyewear, then perform proper hand hygiene.
Face shields must cover the front and sides of the face to reduce the possibility of splash, spray or respiratory droplets from going around the edges of the shield. Goggles should fit snuggly around the eyes. Safety glasses should fit snugly with no gaps between the glasses and the worker’s face. Ensure that eye protection is compatible with your face mask or covering, so there is not interference with proper wear of the mask or eyewear.
Goggles, face shields, or safety glasses can be used as acceptable eye protection. Goggles provide the most reliable eye protection from splashes, sprays, and respiratory droplets, with a snug fit around the eyes. Face shields must cover the front and sides of the face to reduce the possibility of splash, spray or respiratory droplets from going around the edges of the shield. Safety glasses may be used but they do not provide the same level of protection from splashes, sprays and respiratory droplets as goggles or face shields.
Under the Ministry of Ontario COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open, eye protection has been added as an additional method of personal protective equipment in workplaces (in addition to a mask), during instances where patrons without face coverings are within 2 metres of workers. An example of a setting where this occurs:
Restaurants or Bars: when servers are within 2 metres of patrons who have removed their masks to eat or drink.
Discard eye protection if damaged, difficult to see through, or if parts of the protection becomes visibly soiled or contaminated.
Recommendations, Guidelines and Restrictions
Household members are included in gathering limits and are counted together with any visitors to the home. Some families/household members may exceed the current gathering restrictions (i.e. a family of 6). Gathering limits can be exceeded if the number of household members is higher than the restrictions, however they cannot be exceeded if visitors to the home are included.
If you have visited a business where there was an advisory of a potential public exposure, self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the date of exposure. If you develop symptoms of COVID-19:
If sport or recreational spectators are not allowed, one parent or guardian or other caregiver may accompany each person under the age of 18 years who is engaged in activities in the facility.
Whether or not spectators are permitted at this time can be found under ‘Sports and Recreational Fitness’ on our Fact Sheets for Specific Businesses and Organizations page.
Current gathering restrictions are based on which COVID-19 level your region is in. Some municipalities and local medical officers of health have added their own regional restrictions or requirements. Check our Fact Sheets for Specific Businesses and Organizations page or your municipality’s website for details.
Current public health measures planned to reduce COVID-19 activity can be found on our Local Pandemic Status page.
We know this can be a confusing time for everyone with a lot of information shared across many organizations. Guidance and Restrictions including closures of facilities and businesses change regularly. For the most up to date information on restrictions and guidance from the local, provincial and federal authorities, visit our Guidelines and Restrictions section of the website. You can also visit the COVID-19 Response Framework for more information on the public health measures in each of the five zones.
The Ontario government has developed the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework. It ensures that public health measures are targeted, incremental and responsive to help limit the spread of COVID-19, while keeping schools and businesses open, maintaining health system capacity and protecting vulnerable people, including those in long-term care. Each level includes regional health measures and sector-specific public health and workplace safety measures. In addition to the provincial health measures, some local medical officers of health have added their own regional restrictions or requirements. Check our Local Pandemic Status page to learn more.
Team sports in which body contact between players is either an integral component of the sport or commonly occurs while engaged in the sport are not yet permitted.
Restrictions on sports and recreation fitness can be found under ‘Sports and Recreational Fitness’ on our Fact Sheets for Specific Businesses and Organizations page.
Reporting & Complaints
For inquiries or complaints related to violations of mandatory isolation under the Federal Quarantine Act contact your local police (non-emergency line).
Windsor Police Service – 519-258-6111
LaSalle Police Service – 519-969-5210
OPP – 1-888-310-1122
For inquiries or complaints related restaurants, bars, tobacconists or speciality vape stores, please contact WECHU at 519-258-2146 ext. 4475.
For inquiries or complaints for all other businesses operating in violation of provincial orders or exceeding indoor or outdoor gathering limits, please contact 311 in the City of Windsor or your municipal bylaw enforcement in the County of Essex.
A face shield should not be worn in place of a face covering at any point in the school day. A face shield should be used as additional personal protective equipment (PPE) in situations which require added protection from respiratory droplets.
For information on authorized medical devices for use related to COVID-19, please visit the Government of Canada’s website.
Yes. Children living in the same household are permitted to share a seat on the bus, as are children in the same cohort. Please refer to Windsor-Essex Student Transportation Services (WESTS), (also known as Buskids) for more information.
Yes. Since both bus drivers and riders are sharing an enclosed space with limited opportunities for adequate ventilation, the Health Unit recommends that all riders not eligible for an exemption and drivers wear a face mask or covering at all times while on board the bus. Please refer to Windsor-Essex Student Transportation Services (WESTS), (also known as Buskids) for more information.
Physical distancing is an important protection measure to prevent exposures to COVID-19. This includes providing as much space as possible between student’s desks or personal spaces, in seating areas such as cafeterias and staff rooms, and for bus waiting lines to ensure physical distancing in shared spaces and lines are in effect. Please refer to your school board’s back to school plans for how your school will be implementing physical distancing measures.
Only students from the same household or within the same cohorts are permitted to share a seat on the bus. Students are to maintain a 2 metre distance between riders from front to back, as well as side to side across the aisles. Please refer to Windsor-Essex Student Transportation Services (WESTS), (also known as Buskids) for more information.
Schools will implement a more frequent cleaning and disinfecting routine according to Ministry and Public Health Ontario’s Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings. The recommendations include developing and reviewing a cleaning program, cleaning and disinfecting high touch surfaces, routine cleaning of outdoor surfaces, and cleaning shared objects between each use.
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has provided consultation and specific guidance to the Windsor-Essex Student Transportation Services (WESTS), (also known as Buskids) to address student transportation requirements related to COVID-19.
A mask should be replaced with a clean mask if soiled, or if it no longer follows the Government of Canada requirements.
Yes. Physical distancing is mandatory while riding the bus, and while waiting to load the bus. It is recommended that parents and students wear a non-medical face mask at bus stops if physical distancing cannot be maintained. Please refer to Windsor-Essex Student Transportation Services (WESTS), (also known as Buskids) for more information.
It is recommended that parents refrain from exiting their vehicle when dropping their children off at school. For parents escorting children to school on bike or walking, it is advised to limit the number of people accompanying each student to one person. Parents should immediately refrain from any social interaction during pick up and drop off between parents or between parents and teachers. Please refer to Windsor-Essex Student Transportation Services (WESTS), (also known as Buskids) as well as your school board for more information.
If a student feels sick while on the bus, or before boarding the bus, they should advise the bus driver right away who will alert dispatch or a teacher for help in informing the students’ parents. Please refer to Windsor-Essex Student Transportation Services (WESTS), (also known as Buskids) for more information.
- All students and staff members must complete a self-screening questionnaire before arriving at school and must stay home if they are experiencing any symptoms. If a student or staff member becomes sick at school, the following will be applied:
- Any objects used by the ill individual that cannot be cleaned and disinfected (i.e. books) should be sealed and stored away for a minimum of 7 days.
- All objects and surfaces touched by the ill student and staff will be cleaned and disinfected immediately once sent home.
- The staff member caring for the ill child waiting to be picked up must wear a surgical mask and eye protection, regardless of physical distancing.
- The ill student will be monitored by a staff member until they are picked up from school.
- Staff must be sent home immediately and be directed to use the COVID-19 School Self-Assessment Tool.
- The ill student / staff member must wear a mask until they have left the premises.
- They will be isolated from others immediately and put in a separate room.
For school specific protocols about this process please contact your school administration.
If a COVID-19 positive case is identified in a school, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit will provide further instructions on who else in the school may need testing and/or monitoring/isolation at that time. Staff/students who are being managed by public health (e.g. confirmed cases of COVID-19, household contacts of cases) should follow instructions provided by the Health Unit to determine when to return to school.
Please refer to the Ministry’s Operation Guidance Document on the management of COVID-19 in schools for more information.
Reasonable exceptions to the requirement to wear masks can be put in place by schools and school boards. Please speak to your school or school board for more information around medical exemptions.
School bus drivers, monitors, and aides will be provided with a screening checklist to self-screen for symptoms, and must not report to work if they have symptoms associated with COVID-19 or if they think they have been exposed to COVID-19. Please refer to Windsor-Essex Student Transportation Services (WESTS), (also known as Buskids) for more information.
Yes. There will be regular cleaning of the school bus interior, with special attention given to highly-touched surfaces, including bus seats, handrails, surfaces within the driver’s cockpit, and windows. Please refer to Windsor-Essex Student Transportation Services (WESTS), (also known as Buskids) for more information.
Students, teachers and school staff need to check for symptoms of illness every day before going to school. They can complete the online COVID-19 School Self-Assessment Tool each morning, or request a paper copy of the tool from your school. As part of the enhanced screening measures, schools will conduct daily on-site confirmation of self-screening for secondary students, staff and visitors before entering school or at the start of the schools day.
If a student or staff is experiencing any symptoms indicated on the screening checklist, then they must stay home and complete the COVID-19 School Self-Assessment Tool to determine if further care is required. Screening signage will be posted at all entry points of the school.
Screening and Treatment for COVID-19
If you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, we recommend you use the self-assessment tool to determine your next steps. Close contact is defined as:
- A person who provided care for the case, including healthcare workers, family members or other caregivers, or
- Who had other similar close physical contact or
- Who lived with or otherwise had close, prolonged contact with a probable or confirmed case while the case was ill.
Be advised that the health unit will contact all identified close contacts of any person confirmed with COVID-19 through laboratory test.
There is currently no vaccine or treatment specific to COVID-19. Individuals with COVID-19 should drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest. For more information about COVID-19 visit here. Please speak to your healthcare provider regarding all treatment options.
Section 22 Class Order: Isolation
The federal Quarantine Act requires all travellers entering Canada to quarantine for 14 days. Individuals who are required to quarantine under the federal order may also be subject to the class order issued by our local Medical Officer of Health. For example, if someone who has recently travelled is diagnosed with COVID-19. Learn more about Travel Restrictions and Guidance.
Self-isolation requirements are provided in detail in the class order. Individuals with mild or moderate symptoms must isolate for 10 days from symptom onset. Individuals with severe symptoms or who are severely immune-compromised must isolate for 20 days. Individuals who are a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19 must isolate for 14 days from their last contact with that person. The expiry of the isolation period may end after the last day of the required period, as long as on the last day individuals have no fever (without the use of fever-reducing medications) and their symptoms, if any, have been improving for at least 24 hours.
The order is in effect until the Medical Officer of Health determines it is no longer required.
Failure to comply with the order is an offence under section 101 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act for which you may be liable, on conviction, to a fine of not more than $5,000.00 (for a person) or not more than $25,000.00 (for a corporation) for every day or part of each day on which the offence occurs or continues.
Under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA), the Medical Officer of Health may issue an order to limit the spread of communicable disease in the community. Actions under a Section 22 Order must be necessary for reducing or removing the risk for spread of communicable diseases and can include individuals or a class of individuals. Class orders apply to groups of persons as defined in the order issued by the medical officer of health.
The class order directs people to stay home and self-isolate until they are no longer contagious, with the purpose of reducing transmission of COVID-19 and protecting the health of everyone in Windsor and Essex County.
People who apply to the order must:
- Isolate themselves immediately,
- Remain in isolation until the expiry of the required period,
- During the selfisolation period, conduct themselves in such a manner as not to expose another person to infection of COVID-19,
- Keep away from vulnerable people,
- Provide WindsorEssex County Health Unit (WECHU) the names and contact information of close contacts upon request,
- Follow any further instructions provided by the WECHU, and
- Seek medical attention if their illness is worsening.
Please review the class order for full details.
The order is effective as of 12:01 a.m. on February 1, 2021.
The class order applies to people residing in or present in the City of Windsor and Essex County who:
- Are identified as a person diagnosed with COVID-19;
- Have the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, have been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting the results of their test;
- Otherwise have reasonable grounds to believe they have one or more symptoms of COVID-19; or
- Are a close contact of a person diagnosed with COVID-19
The following persons or class of persons may be subject to necessary modifications:
- A person or class of persons who, in the opinion of WindsorEssex County Health Unit is asymptomatic and provides an essential service, for the limited purpose of providing that essential service;
- A person receiving essential medical services or treatments, whether or not related to COVID19; or
- Where a person’s isolation, in the opinion of WindsorEssex County Health Unit, would not be in the public interest.
The class order was issued in order to contain the spread of COVID-19 and prevent widespread community transmission in the region of Windsor-Essex.
While most individuals experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or who are infected with COVID-19, as well as their close contacts, have followed self-isolation instructions, very few do not follow the necessary measures. This class order can help ensure that individuals comply with self-isolation instructions in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Shutdown and Stay-at-Home
The government and Chief Medical Officer of Health will continue to review evidence and consult with public health experts, local medical officers of health and local communities to determine if and when additional measures are required.
Once the Shutdown is lifted, the province’s 34 public health units will be transitioned back into the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework, with new and modified measures in place to allow for the safe operation of all in-person shopping at retail stores in all zones of the framework.
To protect against the risk posed by new variants of COVID-19 circulating in Ontario, the province is prepared to take immediate action if a public health region experiences a rapid acceleration in community transmission or if the health system becomes overwhelmed. If this occurs, the Chief Medical Officer of Health may advise to quickly implement an “emergency brake” moving a public health region into Grey-Lockdown to help immediately interrupt the transmission of the virus in the region.
Municipalities and local medical officers of health may have additional restrictions or targeted requirements in their region, on top of the public health measures required at their specific level.
Evidence indicates that the Shutdown, and following public health advice, is having an impact in reducing transmission of the virus.
However, the number of new cases and the number of patients requiring intensive care remains high. Also, new variants of the virus have been identified in Ontario, posing a threat to public health due to their high rates of transmission, severity of illness and increased risk of reinfection.
The return to the Framework and re-opening of businesses is not a ‘return to normal’ and it is essential to continue following public health and workplace safety measures.
The government, Chief Medical Officer of Health, and the local medical officers of health review and monitor trends on a weekly basis to determine whether additional measures are necessary to further reduce transmission.
The government considers several different criteria to determine when a public health unit region is returned to the COVID-19 Response Framework and to which coloured level they are placed in. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Advice from the Chief Medical Officer of health
- Trends in key indicators, including:
- Epidemiology of the virus (e.g., cases rate, % positivity, reproduction number), including confirmed presence of COVID-19 variants of concern (VOCs);
- Health system capacity;
- Public health system capacity including testing, and case and contact management;
- Local context and conditions such as number and distribution of outbreaks in sectors and level of community transmission.
Details about the key indicators for each coloured level can be found on the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open website.
Statistics and Case Counts
Unknown refers to cases still pending an investigation and/or data that is not known about a case.
Breakdowns by municipality are provided on our Local Data page. The risk of COVID-19 exists in all communities and should be treated as such.
Targeted Vaccination Clinics
Yes, a family member can assist you in filling out the online booking form. For those unable to book online, help is available by contacting the WECHU’s booking hotline at 226-773-2200. Due to high call volumes, it may take multiple attempts to speak with a Windsor-Essex County Health Unit representative.
Yes. If you do not have an OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) card, you can still get a vaccine by presenting another form of a government issued-photo ID such as a driver’s license, passport, Status Card or other provincial health cards. You do not have to be a Canadian citizen to receive a vaccine if you are a current resident of Windsor-Essex and in an eligible group. For those unable to book online, help is available by contacting the booking hotline at 226-773-2200. Due to high call volumes, it may take multiple attempts to speak with a representative.
The WECHU and community partners recognize that some members of our community may have difficulties attending a vaccine appointment outside of their residence. We continue to work with community partners to plan for vaccinations for these individuals.
Yes. Vaccines are only available to those who meet the eligibility criteria, but one caregiver can be at the appointment for support.
The targeted vaccination clinics are currently providing either Pfizer or Moderna doses depending on vaccine supply. Please visit wechu.org/cv/vaccine to learn more about the vaccines currently authorized by Health Canada. If you have any concerns about whether a COVID-19 vaccine is right for you, please contact your health care provider.
Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs)
- The employer must house self-isolating workers in accommodations that are separate from those not subject to self-isolation. Review the Self-Isolation Plan Checklist  for more information.
- Workers can be housed together, but it must enable them to maintain a physical distance of 2 metres apart (e.g., beds need to be at least 2 meters apart).
- Shared facilities (e.g., bathroom, kitchen, living space) are allowed, but must have sufficient space to allow workers to follow self distance requirements.
- Each housing unit must adhere to a daily cleaning and disinfecting schedule. Use the Daily Cleaning Log to ensure that all areas are undergoing regular cleaning.
- For the duration of the self-isolation period, the employer must ensure that the accommodation does not prevent the worker from avoiding contact with older adults (65+) and those with medical conditions who are at risk of developing serious illness
- If new workers are housed for self-isolation in the same accommodation as others who are self-isolating, the clock resets to the day the most recent worker arrived.
- It is recommended that date-stamped photos be taken of the facilities to demonstrate compliance and sent to their Public Health Inspector upon request.
- Informational posters should be provided and displayed in the accommodation common areas (e.g. kitchen, living room, and bathrooms) about proper hand hygiene and cough and sneeze etiquette. Provide these resources in the workers preferred language.
Daily health checks should take place for all workers. Use the Daily Health Check Log  to keep track of each worker’s health status.
Just like all Canadians, the employer is asked to report any violation to the Quarantine Act on the part of a self-isolating worker to local law enforcement.
All owners/operators of agricultural farms in Windsor-Essex County who:
a. Employ migrant farm workers in any capacity.
b. Participate in the federal Temporary Foreign Worker program (TFW).
c. Operate any model of seasonal housing accommodations
must comply with the Class Order dated October 6, 2020 by Dr. Wajid Ahmed, Medical Officer of Health of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. This order requires several safety protocols related to the work environment, screening protocols, measures to facilitate contact tracing and ensure effective communication with workers, and requirements for isolation.
The full list of responsibilities and actions can be seen in the Class Order.
In addition to the requirements in the Order, all newly arriving TFWs who enter Canada by air or land must have their health checked and must isolate for 14 days upon arrival in Canada. The 14-day isolation period is mandatory even if workers show no symptoms and workers are not to be performing any work duties during this time other than cleaning and disinfecting of their accommodations.
All non-essential employee travel and non-essential visitors including suppliers and vendors should be stopped until further notice. Post signage at the farm entrance to discourage unexpected visitors from entering the property.
Develop a Self Isolation Plan and an Emergency Response Plan
Develop a self isolation plan and an emergency response plan to manage your workforce and enable employees to self-isolate  should someone exhibit symptoms or test positive for COVID-19. Due to the number of individuals who typically reside in seasonal housing accommodations, please note that this may require owners/operators to provide alternative housing arrangements for ill employees. Ensure that medical care is available to all employees if needed.
Adhere to Infection Prevention and Control Best Practices
The employer must ensure that workers have access to facilities that allow them to wash their hands often with soap and warm water, providing soap, and providing an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly soiled.
The employer should also ensure that enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols are being implemented in living quarters, work areas, and other common areas immediately:
- Clean all surfaces using commercially purchased multi-surface household cleaners.
- If using a disinfectant, only use those which have a Drug Identification Number (DIN). A DIN is an 8-digit number given by Health Canada that confirms it is approved for use in Canada.
- Check the expiry date of cleaning products before using them and always follow manufacturer’s instructions.
- Frequently touched surfaces are more likely to be contaminated. Surfaces that have frequent contact with hands should be cleaned and disinfected twice per day and when visibly dirty. Examples of frequently touched surfaces include doorknobs, light switches, toilet handles, sink tap handles, bedside tables, counters, tables, chairs, hand rails, buffet utensils, touch screen surfaces, TV or radio remotes, and keypads.
- Food within seasonal housing accommodations should be protected from contamination at all times. This may include safe distancing or ensuring guards or coverings for food, and utensils.
- Ensure all hand wash sinks are supplied with soap and paper towels.
- Provide computer access to allow for online shopping and delivery, including medication delivery.
- Provide grocery/meal delivery options, Click-and-Collect, etc.
- Arrange for online banking options to complete international money transfers. Ensure computer access to employees to facilitate this. Develop a schedule to prevent large groups attempting to use the computer at the same time.
- Encouraging the use of Telehealth, Ontario Telemedicine Network OTN  and online and phone health services if needed.
- Encourage employees to designate shoppers who can collect supplies for several workers or coordinate the shopping for everyone.
- Inform workers of the potential that law enforcement officers may take steps to disperse groups of individuals including workers in public spaces.
Encourage your workforce to download the HUB Connect App for ongoing updates and select Ontario if their region is not listed.
The employer must regularly monitor the health of workers who are self-isolating, as well as any employee who becomes ill after the self-isolation period.
- During the self-isolation period, the employer must communicate with workers daily by call, text, e-mail, or in-person (if no other option is available, while maintaining a 2-meter physical distance), and ask if he/she is experiencing any symptoms. A record of responses should be maintained. Use the Daily Health Check Log to keep track of each worker’s health status.
- If a worker develops symptoms at any point, the employer must immediately arrange for the worker to be fully isolate from others and call the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (519) 258 – 2146
Employers should implement passive and active screening measures at the farm.
Passive screening involves posting up signage around the farm and living areas related to COVID-19. Signs should be:
- Clear, visible and in multiple languages if necessary
- Should have information about signs and symptoms of COVID-19, hand hygiene, and cough and sneeze etiquette.
Active screening involves setting up a screening station/table with a staff member who will verbally ask workers about any signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and provide guidance if there are any reported illnesses. Screening activities should be focused on TFWs and should be done on a regular basis throughout the day.
- Symptomatic workers should be instructed to immediately isolate themselves.
- Workers and the employer should use the online self-assessment tool for instructions on seeking further care.
- Active screening stations must be set up in a way that ensure a minimum 2 metre distance is maintained between workers and the screener.
- Hand sanitizer should be available at the screening table.
Read the Ministry of Ontario guidance document for further details on setting up an active screening station.
Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) Vaccine
Yes, you can continue to eat and drink as normal before and after your vaccine.
Yes, once you have completed the required 15-30 minutes of observation after your vaccine AND you have been cleared to return to the transportation vehicle, you can resume your normal activities.
Yes, you can shower as normal before and after your vaccine.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding you can receive the vaccine ONLY if you have written permission from a doctor or nurse practitioner. This written permission must be brought with you to the clinic and given to the nurse to review.
The Moderna vaccine is only approved for use in Canada for individuals 18 years of age and over.
All agricultural workers will receive the Moderna vaccine.
For safety reasons, the needle is specially designed to retract into a shield after the vaccine dose has been given. No part of the needle is left in your arm.
Testing at an assessment centre is available by appointment only.
To find out if you are eligible for testing visit Getting Tested.
Please note that low risk, asymptomatic individuals should not be considered for testing at an assessment centre. Eligible asymptomatic individuals may have other options for testing – see Additional Testing Locations.
Yes. Individuals who are eligible for testing at an assessment centre or participating pharmacy are required to schedule an appointment for testing. Visit the Government of Ontario website for testing requirements and locations.
At this time, those that test positive for COVID-19 are not retested to ensure they are negative unless you are a healthcare worker. After a positive test result, they remain in communication with public health nurses until they are symptom free. After their required isolation period and at least 24 hours symptom-free, they are able to go outside for essential trips.
Learn how long you should self-isolate for on our Have COVID-19 or Been Exposed page.
There is currently no drive through testing available in the Windsor-Essex Region.
Currently it may take several days to get the results of your COVID-19 test. The WECHU will contact all those who test positive to conduct contact tracing. Learn how to check your results by visiting Check Your Results.
There are several options in Windsor-Essex for getting a COVID-19 test for those who are eligible. For a list of priority groups for testing, testing locations, and how to make an appointment to get tested, visit Getting Tested.
Transmission of COVID-19
COVID-19 spreads from person-to-person, through close contact with others and through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. This is similar to how influenza spreads. The virus can also spread when someone touches an object or surfaces with the virus on it, and then touches their mouth, face, nose or eyes.
LIFESPAN OF COVID-19 VIRUS
Paper and tissue paper
Outside of Surgical Mask
Chin AWH, Chu JTS, Perera MRA, Hui KPY, Yen H, Chan MCW, et al. Stability of SARS-CoV-2 in different environmental conditions. Lancet Microbe. 2020;1(1):e10. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2666-5247(20)30003-3
Van Doremalen N, Bushmaker T, Morris DH, Holbrook MG, Gamble A, Williamson BN, et al. Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1. N Engl J Med. 2020;382(16):1564-7. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMc2004973
Viruses, like COVID-19 are transferred through large droplets created when someone sneeze or coughs and those droplets come into contact with the eye, nose or mouth allowing entry into the body. This is called droplet transmission. Typically droplets spread up to 2 metres and then drop to the ground. Current science for COVID-19 indicated it is spread by droplet transmission similar to other viruses like influenza and SARS.
Airborne transmission happens when evaporated droplets containing the virus stay in the air for long periods of time and transmission occurs when someone breathes in and the virus gets into their throat or lungs. Common diseases that spread through airborne transmission include tuberculosis, measles and chickenpox.
A simple ‘spray and wipe’ won’t work – instead, surfaces should first be cleaned with soap and water, and then disinfected with approved agents. Allow the agent sit for 10 minutes before wiping.
Travel Restrictions and Guidance
The Canada/US border remains closed until further notice to all non-essential travel. Parcel pick up would not be considered essential travel.
Some persons are not subject to the mandatory quarantine requirement when entering Canada. Exemptions will be validated for each entry into Canada. This does not apply to anyone who has signs and symptoms of COVID-19. If you have signs and symptoms of COVID-19, you must disclose this information and isolate for 14 days.
If you are an individual who is exempt (i.e. healthcare worker who commutes across the border), you must wear a non-medical mask or face covering when physical distancing cannot be maintained or while in public settings, continually monitor your health for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and respect the public health guidance and instructions of the area where you are travelling to.
If while in quarantine, you develop a fever and cough or fever and difficulty breathing, test positive for COVID-19, or if you are exposed to another person who is required to isolate or is exhibiting signs and symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19, the 14-day quarantine would be extended for 14 days from when you developed symptoms.
Regarding travellers returning home to non-travellers, all travellers are required to isolate for 14 days from everyone within the home, while non-travellers living in the same household should self-monitor for symptoms.
Essential service workers are defined as those necessary for daily living such as health care workers, first responders to life threatening events, critical infrastructure workers and others necessary to maintain essential societal functions.
- Essential service workers returning from non-essential travel outside of Canada must quarantine for 14-days upon return.
- Essential service workers travelling for essential work purposes should self-monitor symptoms daily including temperature reading.
- Essential workers returning from travel should notify their employer before returning to work and follow their guidance in addition to these recommendations.
- At any time during quarantine if symptoms develop, residents should contact the WECHU at 519-258-2146 to determine next steps.
If you have entered Canada with symptoms of COVID-19, you must isolate for 14 days, provide contact information and monitor your signs and symptoms. When you arrive you must:
- Go directly to your place of isolation without delay and stay there for the duration of your isolation
- Wear a non-medical mask or face covering while in transit, unless you are alone in a private vehicle
- Practice physical distancing of 2 metres at all times
- Do not take public transportation
- Avoid contact with others while in transit
- Report your arrival at your place of isolation within 48 hours after entry into Canada through the AriveCAN app, online at Canada.ca/ArriveCAN or calling 1-833-641-0343
Please note that the Government of Canada and provincial/territorial officials may contact you during your period of isolation, including pre-recorded messages and email reminders.
Travellers should consult their travel carrier’s guidelines to ensure they have the most up-to-date information about requirements and they should refer to the federal government’s travel website for up-to-date expectations and requirements related to their destination. If a COVID-19 test is required, it is important to ensure ample time for testing and to receive results.
To find local options offering testing for international travel, see Additional Testing Locations.
As required by the Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Mandatory Isolation), anyone entering Canada must quarantine for 14 days, provide contact information and monitor for signs and symptoms. If symptoms develop during quarantine, call your local health authority (Windsor-Essex County Health Unit - 519-258-2146) to determine next steps. Compliance with quarantine requirements is subject to verification and enforcement. Those in violation may face transfer to a quarantine facility as well as fines and/or imprisonment.
Please note that Canadian citizens and permanent residents are advised to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Individuals cannot end quarantine early even if they’ve been tested for COVID-19 and have received negative test results. This 14 day quarantine period is to limit any potential transmission of travel acquired COVID-19. When someone is exposed to COVID-19, symptoms can develop at any time during the 14 day incubation period. Anyone who is within their 14 day quarantine period and develops symptoms should immediately isolate from others and contact their local Public Health Authority (Windsor-Essex County Health Unit - 519-258-2146).
At this time, Dr. Ahmed, the Medical Officer of Health, does not recommend non-essential travel outside of Windsor and Essex County, however there are currently no restrictions related to travel within Canada. If you’re planning on travelling within Canada, verify restrictions and exemptions by visiting the Government of Canada website.
Before travelling to Canada, first check if you are eligible to enter Canada. If eligible, plan a location to quarantine for when you arrive, and use the ArriveCAN app to enter your information before you depart. Regardless of citizenship, all travellers five years of age or older must provide proof of a negative laboratory test result for COVID-19 to the airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada. The test must be conducted within 72 hours of the traveller’s scheduled departure to Canada. Travellers entering via air are required to submit their information via ArriveCAN before boarding their flight. Travellers entering via land or sea are strongly encouraged to use AriveCAN to submit their information in advance. Do not travel if you are not feeling well.
After entering Canada, you will be required to follow any instructions given to you, go directly to your place of quarantine or isolation, and use ArriveCAN (via the app or online at Canada.ca/ArriveCAN) or call 1-888-641-0343 to check-in within 48 hours and to report your daily symptoms (for asymptomatic travellers). All travellers are required to report information during their 14-day quarantine, including any symptoms of COVID-19.
Please note that the Government of Canada and provincial/territorial officials may contact you during your period of isolation, including pre-recorded messages and email reminders. If federal and provincial or territorial guidelines differ, please follow the strictest requirements.
Upon arrival to Canada, you will be required to wear a mask or face covering, answer eligibility and health screening questions including quarantine plans, provide any required information, and if necessary, complete additional health or quarantine plan assessments.
The Government of Ontario has mandated on-arrival testing for international travellers at Toronto Pearson International Airport effective February 1, 2021.
If you are travelling by air and develop symptoms – tell your flight attendant or border services officer immediately. For land/marine travellers who develop symptoms– stop your travels if possible, and seek medical attention.
If you develop symptoms, immediately isolate yourself from others and contact your local public health authority (Windsor-Essex County Health Unit - 519-258-2146). If your symptoms worsen during quarantine, contact your local public health authority. If you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 and make sure you notify the dispatcher that you have COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19. Please note that the Government of Canada and provincial/territorial officials may contact you during your period of isolation.
Travellers are required to provide information digitally when returning to Canada. ArriveCAN is a free mobile app that allows all travellers entering Canada to submit mandatory information quickly and securely. ArriveCAN is available for download on Apple iOS and Google Play and is available in English, French and Spanish. The ArriveCAN improves information sharing with the Provinces, Territories and Police of Jurisdiction to support public health and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Travellers can also submit their information by signing in online at Canada.ca/ArriveCAN.
While in transit to quarantine, practice physical distancing of 2 metres, use a private vehicle if possible, remain in the vehicle as much as possible, pay at the pump for gas and use drive-thru options if you need food, and wear a non-medical mask or face covering at all times unless you are alone in a private vehicle.
Canadian citizens, dual Canadian citizens, permanent residents of Canada, persons registered under Canada’s Indian Act, and protected persons can travel to and enter Canada. Please visit the Government of Ontario website to learn more about who can enter Canada.
Foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, can travel to Canada only if they’re eligible. Compassionate entry to Canada and limited release from quarantine is available for foreign nationals. Learn more about the steps to get approval for compassionate entry on the Government of Canada website. In addition, there are travel restriction exemptions for non-Canadians including exemptions for family reunification, international students, and foreign workers.
Symptom reporting is required for asymptomatic travellers to help identify who has developed symptoms while in quarantine. If an asymptomatic traveller develops symptoms, they are not required to continue reporting. When a traveller reports a change in their symptoms, they are referred to public health for follow-up.
Working in the United States
Essential service workers returning from non-essential travel must self-isolate and monitor symptoms for 14-days upon return. At any time during self-isolation if symptoms develop, residents should contact their health care provider to determine next steps.
Essential service workers travelling for essential work purposes are not required to self-isolate should self-monitor symptoms daily including temperature reading.
Please talk to your employer about work from home options, if possible. If you are unable to work from home, we recommend trying to limit your exposure by practicing good hand hygiene, physically distancing and wearing a non-medical mask while in both the US and Canada. US employees are not required to quarantine while in Canada and are exempt from the Quarantine Act. We encourage you to monitor your health daily by using the self-assessment tool. If you develop symptoms, please contact your primary health care provider.
Workplaces, Employers and Employees
Every worker in Ontario has the right to refuse work that he or she believes is unsafe to himself/ herself or another worker and may expose them to undue hazard. This right is covered under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. A work refusal is a last resort effort to protect the worker from exposure to the undue health hazard when efforts to have the risk mitigated have not been satisfactorily addressed.
An undue hazard is an “unwarranted, inappropriate, excessive, or disproportionate” hazard. For the COVID-19 pandemic, an “undue hazard” would be one where a worker’s job role places them at increased risk of exposure and adequate controls are not in place to protect them from that exposure. In these circumstances, the worker is advised to follow the detailed procedures outlined by the Occupational Health and Safety Act to resolve the issue.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act does not mandate employers to implement health monitoring for COVID by performing temperature checks in the workplace. Temperature checks alone may not provide sufficient information to determine whether or not a worker suffers from COVID-19, as it presents with a range of symptoms which often overlaps with many other illnesses. As a result, the presence of a fever alone may not be indicative of COVID-19, nor does it rule out its absence.
Employers who choose to perform these checks should be aware that individual health information is kept highly confidential in accordance with Ontario’s Personal Health Information Privacy Act. It is important for employers to note that employees must give informed and voluntary consent before their temperature can be read and documented. To ensure that the temperature is accurately taken, consider asking a trained medical professional to perform the task. The personnel should review the direction of use for the thermometer or scanning equipment to ensure it is performed properly.
Workplaces must screen any workers or essential visitors entering the work environment. See the COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces for more information. Some businesses or organizations must screen patrons, depending on the current level of public health measures. See our Fact Sheets for Specific Businesses and Organization to learn more, including screening and signage advice for specific sectors.
An employer may require an employee to provide a medical note from a health practitioner such as a doctor, nurse practitioner or psychologist when the employee is taking the leave because of personal illness, injury or medical emergency if it is “reasonable in the circumstances” https://www.ontario.ca/document/your-guide-employment-standards-act-0/sick-leave.
However, the employer can ask only for the following information:
- the duration or expected duration of the absence
- the date the employee was seen by a health care professional
- whether the patient was examined in person by the health care professional issuing the note
- Employers cannot ask for information about the diagnosis or treatment of the employee’s medical condition.
It is recommended that employees who are sick to not attend work until symptom free for 24-hours. Your employer will put in policies and procedures to limit exposure in the workplace. Employers with employees recently returning from travel should follow public health guidance and make the following considerations:
- Non-essential travel outside of Canada should be avoided and all returning travelers are required to self-isolate for 14 days under the Quarantine Act. Individuals who are self-isolating should NOT go to work.
- At any time during self-isolation if symptoms develop residents should contact their healthcare provider or the WECHU at 519-258-2146 to determine next steps.
- If individuals have had contact or potential contact with a case of COVID-19, they should contact their primary care provider or the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit at 519-258-2146 for information.
Please refer to the Ministry of Labour for any further questions related to workplace practices.
The health unit does not issue return to work letters related to COVID-19 or any other illness. Please note that the Ontario government made changes to the Employment Standards Act and as a result employees do not need to provide a medical note if they need to be off work for illness. For more information, visit the Government of Ontario website.
We encourage that employers follow Health Canada guideline for Hard-surface disinfectants for use against coronavirus (COVID-19) to ensure that your workplace is kept clean and safe for clients and employees. For surfaces that are frequently touched such as door handles, knobs, railings, taps, light switches and telephones, Health Canada recommends cleaning with approved agents like regular household cleaners and diluted household bleach. We advise that employers ensure that staff responsible for cleaning, use disinfectants with a Drug Identification Number (DIN), an 8-digit number located on the package, as its indicative that the agent has been approved by Health Canada to be effective against COVID-19.
A person may have been exposed if they:
- Were identified as a close contact of a positive case.
- Were in contact with a positive case, but not in close contact.
- Attend, reside in, or work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak. As indicated above, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit identifies outbreak settings and provides specific instruction, where applicable.
- Visited a location identified as a possible COVID-19 exposure. Refer to the list of ‘Possible COVID-19 Exposures’ and specific instructions.
- Have travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days. Learn about quarantine for travellers without symptoms and travellers with symptoms.
- Received a notification from the COVID Alert app that they have been exposed. They should self-isolate immediately and schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 test.
Store instructions can be found under ‘Retail’ on our Fact Sheets for Specific Business and Organizations page.
Please visit an assessment centre to get tested for COVID-19 and confirm whether you are positive or negative. While waiting for your results, please isolate. If you test positive, please continue isolating, contact your health care provider, and note that you will be contacted by a public health nurse for further direction. If you are negative, you can return to work if you have been symptom free for 24 hours.
All confirmed cases receive guidance from health unit nurses. Positive cases of COVID-19 must self-isolate for 10 days after their onset of symptoms. It is important that individuals receive and follow guidance from public health staff in order to reduce the risk of any further transmission of the virus. At the end of the 10 days, provided they have been symptom free for 24 hours or longer, individuals would be able to return to work and practice ongoing physical distancing, avoiding public places and self-monitoring for symptoms in line with all public health community recommendations. Individual workplaces can create their own guidelines and policies regarding return to work for their employees as long as they do not conflict with the public health guidance recommendations.
Yes, LLD is sufficient. Disinfectants should have a DIN or NPN. High- touch surfaces should be disinfected twice daily and when visibly soiled. Surfaces that come into contact with clients should be disinfected after each client (e.g. hairdressing/barbering chair). For more information on cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and equipment refer to Public Health Ontario’s Guide to Infection Prevention and Control in Personal Service Settings, 3rd edition.
When a health unit region is in the Yellow-Protect or higher level, some sectors must prepare a COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan. Learn more by visiting our COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan Requirements page.
Due to confidentiality concerns, the health unit will not be contacting workplaces to discuss individual cases however, individuals may be contacted as a part of the contract tracing process. Individuals should inform their employer of their test results so that proper health and safety measures can be put in place.
Yes, as part of health and safety requirements, employers are encouraged to develop and implement hygiene and physical distancing training programs that are tailored to work environments and are in accordance with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit guidance for COVID-19. Such coordination will help ensure plans are aligned with current national and provincial regulations and guidelines, and agencies have sufficient resources and workforce planning in place to carry out their business in a safe manner.
The WECHU follows up with all COVID-19 cases and close contacts of any person confirmed with COVID-19 through laboratory tests. A “close contact” is defined as:
- A person who provided care for the case, including healthcare workers, family members or other caregivers, or
- Who had other similar close physical contact, or
- Who lived with or otherwise had close prolonged contact with a probable or confirmed case while the case was ill.
If you are concerned about your safety at work, please contact your human resource department or internal occupational health and safety committee. If you have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 you will be contacted.
Capacity is based on the ability for clients and staff to remain at least 2m from one another. To accomplish this, operators may need to render workstations inaccessible, use physical barriers, provide visual cues (e.g. indicating with tape on the floor), and or rearrange the space to ensure adequate space is maintained. Barriers are not required as long as physical distancing can be maintained.
Following general safe food handling practices and performing frequent and thorough hand washing are effective ways to prevent the spread of food borne illnesses and viruses such as COVID-19. In addition to safe food handling practices and hand washing:
- Do NOT go to work if you are feeling sick
- Increase the frequency of cleaning and sanitizing of the delivery vehicle
- Note that glove use is not necessary and does not replace proper hand hygiene
- Be sure to maintain the required 2 metre physical distance between yourself and others if waiting in line to pick up takeout food for a delivery
- Avoid close contact with customers during the delivery process by arranging for prepayment on the phone or online
- If possible, make arrangements to drop off the food delivery at the home’s entrance instead of having direct interaction with the person receiving the delivery.
Employers are legally obligated by the Ontario Human Rights Code to accommodate all employees to the point of undue hardship. If an employee discloses a medical condition that may make him/her vulnerable to COVID-19, we recommend that the employer examines the task to assess risks of exposure while executing the activity. The Public Health Agency of Canada has created a list of vulnerable populations at risk of COVID-19. If you find that the risk of exposure is high, consider way to reduce it by modifying tasks and implementing appropriate policies, plans and procedures to protect all employees. When creating a risk mitigation plan, should follow the health and safety hierarchy of control. It is important for employers to actively engage with their employees to discuss strategies to reduce their risk exposure, as they may able to recommend practical solutions.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission identifies the type of information that accommodation seekers may generally be expected to provide to support an accommodation includes:
- that the person has a disability
- the limitations or needs associated with the disability
- whether the person can perform the essential duties or requirements of the job, of being a tenant, or of being a service user, with or without accommodation
- the type of accommodation(s) that may be needed to allow the person to fulfill the essential duties or requirements of the job
- in employment, regular updates about when the person expects to come back to work, if they are on leave.
- The employer should work with the employee with COVID-19 to identify if others may have been exposed at the workplace while the person was contagious. Find out more.
- The employer notifies employees, who were considered to have been close contacts, to self-isolate, and instruct lower risk contacts to self-monitor for 14 days from their last exposure to the case. This should be done while maintaining confidentiality of all affected employees.
- If a person with COVID-19 discloses illness to the employer, but others at the workplace have not been exposed (e.g. staff was not present while contagious), then further contact tracing would not be needed at the workplace.
- WECHU obtains consent from the employee before disclosing personal health information to the employer.
- WECHU will request a list of the names and contact information of staff and, if applicable, patrons/clients, who may have been exposed.
- The WECHU will use this information to notify and provide instructions for close contacts to self-isolate or self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.
- Personal information collected for COVID-19 contract tracing may only be used for that purpose. Employers should only keep records for 30 days and then shred.
- A public notification is generally not required unless persons who may have been exposed while at the workplace cannot be identified or contacted in a timely manner.
A non-essential visitor is defined as a visitor that is not necessary for the functioning of a workplace, a first responder to life threatening events, or others necessary to maintain essential societal functions.
Information on whether or not non-essential visitors should be permitted can be found under ‘General Public Health Measures’ on our Fact Sheets for Specific Businesses and Organizations page.
A close contact is defined as an individual who was exposed to either a probable case of COVID-19 or a person who tested positive for COVID-19, without the appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment (i.e., face coverings or eye protection).
In general, someone may be considered a close contact (i.e., higher risk contact) if:
- They were less than 2 metres (6 feet) away from the person for 15 minutes or longer
- They live with or provide care for them in the same home
- They had direct physical contact with the person, such as a hug or handshake
- They had multiple close encounters with them, over a 24-hour period, even each interaction was less than 15 minutes
- They socialized or had lunch or a drink with a co-worker at the same table sitting less than two metres (6 feet) apart
- They shared a drink with a co-worker from the same glass or bottle
- They work in close proximity to the person (e.g., assembly line)
- They had direct contact (e.g., talking in close proximity without face covering) with the person while they coughed or sneezed
Those identified as a close contact must:
- Self-isolate immediately and schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 test.
- Self-isolate for 14 days from their last contact with the positive person, even if they have no symptoms or have tested negative. After 14 days, if they have been symptom-free for 24 hours, they can stop isolating.
- Complete the COVID-19 self-assessment or call their healthcare provider, if symptoms develop, and contact a local COVID-19 Assessment Centre if testing is recommended.
- Make a list of their close contacts from 14 days prior to finding out they are a close contact to assist with contact tracing if they test positive.
- Notify close contacts that they are a close contact of a positive case and ask them to monitor for symptoms for 14 days after their last contact with the infectious person.
- The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit attempts to follow-up with all close contacts, however the current priority is for individuals who test positive.
- For medical or health advice, call a health care provider or Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000.
- If someone is having difficulty breathing or experiencing other severe symptoms, call 911 immediately. Tell them about any symptoms or possible exposure.
For a more detailed list of high-risk exposures or how to determine if someone was a close contact, visit WECHU’s ‘Have COVID-19 or have been exposed?’ page or the Ministry of Health’s Management of Cases and Contacts of COVID-19 in Ontario guidance.
In general, someone is considered a lower risk contact (i.e., NOT considered a close contact) if:
- They maintained a distance of 2 metres (6 feet)
- They were briefly in the same room but kept your distance
- They passed a person quickly in a hall or other common area
- They greeted someone while keeping your distance
- They had brief close contact while wearing a mask and/or with a barrier in place
- They were wearing a surgical/procedure mask and eye protection for the entire duration of the potential exposure (e.g., in healthcare settings)
- They attended the same meting but did not have any direct contact
- You and the person work the same shift but in a different area or separated by a barrier
- You made a delivery to someone who was self isolating but had no direct contact with them
- Lower risk contacts should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the last day they may have had a ‘low-risk exposure’ to the person with COVID-19 while they were contagious. If symptoms develop, they should immediately self-isolate, complete the online self-assessment, and follow next steps.
For a more detailed list of low risk exposures, visit WECHU’s ‘Have COVID-19 or have been exposed?’ page or the Ministry of Health’s Management of Cases and Contacts of COVID-19 in Ontario guidance.
The Ministry of Labour has instituted a new regulation for infectious disease emergency leave – specifically for employee leaves resulting from COVID-19 related issues https://www.ontario.ca/document/your-guide-employment-standards-act-0/infectious-disease-emergency-leave. Employers can require employees to provide proof of entitlement to a leave, but they cannot require an employee to provide a certificate from a physician or nurse as evidence, as outlined below:
Proof of entitlement
An employer may require an employee to provide evidence reasonable in the circumstances at a time that is reasonable in the circumstances that the employee is eligible for infectious disease emergency leave but employers cannot require an employee to provide a certificate from a physician or nurse as evidence. Employers are not prohibited under the ESA from requiring medical notes in the context of issues such as return-to-work situations or for accommodation purposes.
What is considered reasonable in the circumstances will depend on all the facts of the situation, such as:
- the duration of the leave
- whether there is a pattern of absences
- whether any evidence is available and the cost of the evidence.
If it is reasonable in the circumstances, evidence may take many forms, such as a:
- travel documentation showing that the employee had travelled to a country for which quarantine or isolation is being advised
- a copy of the information issued to the public by a public health official advising of quarantine or isolation (for example, a print out, screen shot or recording of the information)
- a copy of an order to isolate that was issued to the employee under s. 22 or s. 35 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act
- a note from an employee's day care provider indicating that the childcare centre was closed because of a designated infectious disease
Employers can only require the evidence at a time that is reasonable in the circumstances. What is considered reasonable in the circumstances will depend on all of the facts of the situation.
For example, if an employee is in isolation or in quarantine, it will not be reasonable to require an employee to provide the evidence during the quarantine or isolation period, if the employee would have to leave home to obtain the evidence. However, if the employee has electronic evidence that can be sent from home, it may be reasonable to require the employee to send it during the isolation or quarantine period.
Public Health Ontario advises that most personal protective equipment (PPE) is designed for single use. If reuse is considered, it should not occur without adequate disinfection processes.
Please speak to your employer or health and safety representative. If you have concerns, please follow up with the Ministry of Labour.
Regardless of the settings, we recommend that employees take necessary measures to protect themselves against COVID-19 as directed by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. Practicing physical distancing, ensure proper hand hygiene and cough and sneeze etiquette and appropriate use of PPE have proven to be effective in protecting against COVID-19. Here are some useful suggestions to consider;
- Limit the number of employees who can access the common area at a time to ensure that those using it can maintain physical distancing from each other. This can be done by staggering shifts and breaks, limiting the number of chairs and tables occupying the space and pre-marking the spacing to ensure at least 2 m of separation
- Ensure that the area; including high touch surfaces, is regularly cleaned using approved disinfectants
- Ensure that handwashing facilities and supplies, facial tissues, lined disposal bins, and cleaning and disinfecting supplies are readily available in common areas
- Remove objects that cannot easily be cleaned from the area like newspaper, magazines, fabrics and furniture.
Employers are advised to develop and implement policies around who can be allowed entry to the workplace. These policies should be communicated to workers, sales representatives, consultants and customers before resumption so everyone understands the expectations prior to attending.
Workplaces must screen any workers or essential visitors entering the work environment. See the COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces for more information. Some businesses or organizations must screen patrons. See our Fact Sheets for Specific Businesses and Organization page to learn more, including screening and signage advice for specific sectors. Everyone should be instructed to stay home if they are sick.
Employees should self-monitor if:
- They have recently returned from travel outside of Canada for essential work purposes,
- Have no symptoms but may have been exposed to COVID-19 within the last 14 days,
- Are in close contact with older adults or medically vulnerable people, or
- Have been told to self-monitor by public health.
Learn how to self-monitor. Employees are still able to attend work while monitoring for symptoms.
Employees should self-isolate if:
- They have returned from travel outside of Canada, unrelated to essential travel for work,
- Been diagnosed with COVID-19,
- Are waiting for test results for COVID-19,
- Have symptoms of COVID-19,
- Been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or
- Have been told to self-isolate by public health.
Learn how to self-isolate. Employees should not attend work if they are required to self-isolate.
Employers can obtain current information about COVID-19 around Windsor-Essex County by visiting the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit website and following us on Facebook. Alternatively, you may also consider visiting the Public Health Ontario and Public Health Agency of Canada websites.
For workplace specific guidance, please visit WECHU’s Fact Sheets for Specific Businesses and Organizations page.
The province has an information line called ‘Stop the Spread’ that businesses can call with questions at 1-888-444-3659. This number is available 7 days a week.