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Childcare Settings

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.

Yes. At the beginning of each day, unlicensed child care settings are advised to actively screen all children, staff, and visitors for fevers, new or existing cough, or difficulty breathing, and if they’ve travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days.

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: Decreasing the number of people each child is exposed to by limiting the number of individuals (students and staff) in a room to a maximum of 10.
  • 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 dropoffs 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.


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 the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit @ 519-258-2146 ext. 1420 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.

Creating a social circle is now possible for families. This is a big relief to families who need extra help taking care of a newborn or other children at home. Although creating a social circle is important for so many reasons, parents’ health and the health of their baby, come first. Social 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 and these tips to protect grandparents and older adults who may want to visit. 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. Visit the Government of Ontario website to learn how to create a social circle during COVID-19.

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 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.
  • With the warmer weather coming, this can be a great time to get the bike out and take the family on a ride through the neighbourhood or on some of your local parks 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 some early spring cleaning or helping out with some yard work around the house.

According to the Ministry of Education’s guidance, centres are now able to open provided that they are prepared to operate with enhanced safety practices. This includes having enhanced health and safety measures in place.

This applies to all jurisdictions, regardless of what phase of reopening they are in, including the Windsor and Essex County region.

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.

If the farmer’s market is outdoors, staff and customers are not required to wear a mask. If the farmer’s market is indoors, then staff 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).

Singing or music may be performed by a person or group at the restaurant or bar, with restrictions, including barriers between the performers and patrons and physical distancing. Dancing may only be performed by someone working at the establishment with restrictions.

As of August 12th, indoor dining is allowed, provided physical distaning of at least two metres between patrons at different tables, unless separated by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier, is maintained.

While dining or drinking on an outdoor patio, or in an open air setting of a food premises, the wearing of a face covering or mask is NOT required.  This includes outdoor food pick up windows (i.e. drive-thru’s or mobile food trucks).

However, when using any indoor space of the premises, the wearing of a mask IS required. This includes:

  • Washrooms
  • 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

Other areas of a food premises that are exempt from wearing a mask include:

  • Staff lounge not accessible to the public
  • Stock/storage room not accessible to the public
  • Private office (e.g. manager’s office)
  • Shipping/receiving area not accessible to the public

Long-Term Care Homes and Retirement Homes

Yes, beginning on June 18, 2020, the Ministry announced that family visits in Long-Term Care Homes, Retirement Homes, and Other Residential Care Settings can resume.  

Re-opening will take place in a gradual, phased manner that meets the health and safety needs of residents, staff, and visitors.  Please note that the new visitor rules apply across the province, regardless of which phase each region is in. 

Homes will be subject to strict health and safety protocols, including:

  • requiring visitors to pass active screening every time they visit,
  • complying with the infection prevention and control protocols. This includes bringing and wearing a face covering during visits.

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.

For retirement homes, visitor admissions will vary from home to home depending upon their individual circumstances.

Please read the following guidelines carefully and clarify any questions with individual homes before your visit.

The Ministry of Long-Term Care has published information guides for Updates to Visits at Long-Term Care Homes and Reopening Retirement Homes that outline:

  • Requirements for the Home including new admission and re-admissions
  • Visitor requirements including COVID-19 testing results and types of visits (outdoor, indoor)
  • Phased timelines for types of visits and number of visitors.

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 new Ministry of Health COVID-19 Provincial Testing Guidance Update Document (June 2, 2020),

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 or call 519-258-2146 ext. 4475.

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 COVID-19 Outbreak Guidance for Long-Term Care Homes, Ministry of Health, any single confirmed case of COVID-19 is a staff person or resident of a long-term care home or retirement home is considered an outbreak for COVID-19. For more information about outbreaks visit here.

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 or call 519-258-2146 ext. 4475.


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

By stating that you or someone in your care qualifies for a medical, age-related, or religious exemption to the Order, you or the person in your care are no longer required to wear a face covering in the commercial setting. No proof of the exemption is necessary. Please be advised that businesses may have enacted policies which extend beyond the Order and refuse entry to any person not wearing a face covering. Such policies are not recommended by the health unit or Medical Officer of Health.

WECHU has created a section 22 class order poster for businesses to post at commercial establishments to alert any customer, patron, employee or visitor about the order.

The order is in effect as of 12:01 a.m. on June 26th and will remain in effect until rescinded by the Medical Officer of Health.

It is recommended to wash face coverings after each use. You can wash it with you 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.

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:  that 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. Face Shields are not a replacement or acceptable substitute for a face covering.

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 face covering is required when entering and while on the premises of any commercial establishment or library in Windsor and Essex County. The face covering must be worn in areas that are openly accessible to members of the public and that are used for the purposes of offering goods or services to members of the public.

This includes:

  • Any areas in which customers interact with one another or with staff members;
  • Any areas that are open or accessible to members of the public (except in areas outside, whether or not the outdoor area is covered (e.g. a restaurant patio)

Examples of areas where a face covering would be required include:

  • retail floor/aisles;
  • cashier area/queues;
  • service desks/counters;
  • publicly accessible washrooms.

The use of face coverings is recommended for the health and safety of all customers, patrons, employees or visitors, in situations where physical distancing (spatial separation of individuals by at least two metres) is difficult to maintain. However, there are settings not subject to the order, even if they would otherwise fall within the definition of a commercial establishment. For example, establishments that are or will be covered under separate provincial guidance, are covered by a regulatory college or ones that are multijurisdictional may not be included in the order. 

Examples of where a face covering is NOT required under the class order include:

  • Churches or faith settings
  • Day camps
  • Child care centres
  • Day care centres
  • Schools
  • Community centres
  • Offices that are not open to members of the public
  • Professional offices where clients receive purchased services (e.g. lawyer’s/accountant’s office) that are not open to members of the public
  • Private transportation (bus/taxi/limo)
  • Hospitals
  • Independent health facilities
  • Offices of regulated health professionals
  • Golf courses in spaces which are not exclusively retail
  • Fitness facilities/gyms which are not exclusively retail

Please note that some of these establishments might still have their own face covering policies in place.

The order can be read it its entirety here.

Hand sanitizer is required to be provided by the commercial establishment as part of the order. Customers are not required to use the sanitizer under the order.

Any person (employee, visitor, or patron) who enters an identified commercial establishment will be required to wear a face covering as per the establishment’s policy and in compliance with the order.

Although the order mandates the use of face coverings there are some individuals who are exempt from wearing one.

  • Children under the age of two years.
  • Children under the age of five years (either chronologically or developmentally) who refuse to wear a face covering and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver.
  • People whose ability to breathe in any way is inhibited by the face covering.
  • People that have any other medical reason they cannot wear a face covering safely, such as, but not limited to, respiratory disease, or cognitive difficulties, or difficulties in hearing or processing information.
  • 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 two 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.


Mental Health

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

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 the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit at 519- 258-2146 ext. 1420.
  • 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 contact their health care provider or the WECHU at 519-258-2146 ext. 1420

People Who 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Personal Service Settings

Yes, massages are permitted provided they follow public health protective measures.

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.

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.

As of August 12, as Windsor-Essex moves to stage 3, all services that tend to a customer’s face are permitted.

As of August 12, as Windsor-Essex moves to stage 3, all services that tend to a customer’s face are permitted.

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.

Physical Distancing

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.

Recommendations, Guidelines and Restrictions

The Canada/US boarder remains closed until further notice to all non-essential travel. Parcel pick up would not be considered essential travel.

There are several ways to keep informed of the current recommendations from Dr. Wajid Ahmed, Medical Officer of Health, Windsor and Essex County. You can watch his daily YouTube recording.

The mandatory 14 days isolation period falls under the Quarantine Act and applies to anyone entering Canada from out of country (exceptions only for those that commute daily across the border). Individuals cannot end quarantine early even if they’ve been tested for COVID-19 and have received negative test results. This 14 day isolation 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 seek medical attention and contact the appropriate Public Health Authority. Those subject to the Quarantine Act will receive direction at the border upon entering Canada. To learn more about the Quarantine Act, you may visit the Government of Canada’s website.

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.

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.

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 for members of the public not physically distancing or convening in groups of more than 10 people, 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 PPE in situations which require added protection from respiratory droplets..


Yes. Children living in the same household are permitted to share a seat on the bus, as are children in the same cohort.

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. Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will be encouraged but not required to wear masks while using student transportation.

Students in Grades 4-12 will be required to wear a non-surgical or reusable cloth mask while indoors at school. Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 are encouraged, but not required, to wear a mask indoors. Staff are also required to wear masks indoors. Please see information about the use of face coverings on the provincial COVID-19 website.
Supporting the mental health and well-being of students remains a top priority as they return to school. Please refer to your school board’s back to school plans for how your school will be implementing physical distancing measures. Please refer to your school’s back to school plan for more information.


Supporting the mental health and well-being of students remains a top priority as they return to school. School staff will have additional training and support services available to better identify and support students who are in need.

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. All students will be assigned a seat and a record kept of the seating plan to assist with contact tracing if a positive case is determined.


Schools will implement a more frequent cleaning and disinfecting routine according to Ministry and Public Health Ontario’s Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings. A checklist to determine the most frequently touched surfaces throughout the school building will be created to ensure these surfaces are cleaned and disinfected at least twice a day. Soft surfaces or items that cannot be easily cleaned will be removed from classrooms (e.g. plush toys).


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.


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.

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.


Elementary and high school students will remain in cohorts. Cohorting refers to a group of students and staff who must stay together throughout the school day, and remain isolated from other cohorts to limit the risk of contact. One teacher will remain with the cohorted students, with the exception of the prep teachers/specialized teachers, such as French teachers, who will still be able to go into classrooms to provide programming.


 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.


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:

  • They will be isolated from others immediately and put in a separate room.
  • The ill student and staff member must don a mask until they have left the premises.
  •  Staff must be sent home immediately and be directed to use the online self-assessment tool.
  • The ill student will be monitored by a staff member until they are picked up from school. 
  • 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.
  • All objects and surfaces touched by the ill student and staff will be cleaned and disinfected immediately once sent home.
  • 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. 


  • 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.



Students or staff with a medical condition that does not allow them to wear a mask will be exempt from wearing one.


Masks are encouraged for students in Kindergarten to Grade 3. This SickKids Guidance Document on school reopening indicates that younger children are more likely to improperly wear a mask, and may not be able to tolerate wearing one throughout the school day. They also found that children under 10 years of age are less likely to transmit COVID-19 than older children and adults.


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 they think they have been exposed to COVID-19.  Staff should report immediately to their employer, complete the online self-assessment tool and follow the instructions provided if they feel ill.
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. A thorough cleaning of the high-touch surfaces with appropriate disinfectants will be completed after all students are unloaded off the bus at the end of each trip.


Yes. Schools will be responsible for securing an adequate amount of personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks. Reusable homemade cloth masks are also permitted provided the safe use and cleanliness of such masks are maintained.


No. Screening on school property can cause delays and long lines of students as well as unnecessarily stigmatization of students in the event of a positive screen. All screening should be completed prior to leaving one’s home for school every day. Families will be provided with a screening checklist to complete with their child. Staff will also be provided with a screening checklist to complete. If a student or staff is experiencing any symptoms indicated on the screening checklist, then they must stay home and complete the COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to determine if further care is required. Screening signage will be posted at all entry points of the school.


No. Students and staff will be provided with a screening checklist to complete everyday before coming to school. If a student or staff is experiencing any symptoms indicated on the checklist, then they must remain home and use the COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to determine whether a COVID-19 test or medical attention is required.



Self-Isolation & Self-Monitoring

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. Self-Isolation means staying home and avoiding contact with others including people in the same household. People must self-isolate if:

  • They have returned from travel outside of Canada;
  • Have been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • They are waiting for test results for COVID-19;
  • They have symptoms of COVID-19; and
  • They have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

If you are unsure if you should self-isolate contact the WECHU @ 519-258-2146 ext. 1420 or your healthcare provider.

You need to self-monitor if you currently have no symptoms but may have been exposed to the coronavirus within the last 14 days. Self-monitoring means that you check yourself for 14 days or more for one or more symptoms of COVID-19. You may leave your home for essential trips (work, groceries, picking up medication), but you should practice physical distancing from others, whenever possible.

You should self-monitor if you have reason to believe you have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 OR You are in close contact with older adults or medically vulnerable people OR You have been advised to self-monitor for any other reason by public health.

If you develop symptoms, isolate yourself from others immediately and contact the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit at 519-258-2146 ext. 1420 as soon as possible.

Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

Please visit the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website for more information regarding this topic.

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 though laboratory test.

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 14 days of self-isolating and at least 48 hours symptom-free, they are able to go outside for essential trips.

Common symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing but can include tiredness, loss of taste or smell or headache.

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.

Statistics and Case Counts

Statistics are updated on our website every day. For daily stats and statistics related to our region, including individuals who have recovered, visit our website.

Breakdowns by municipality are provided in the new weekly summary reports posted on our website. The risk of COVID-19 exists in all communities and should be treated as such.

Substance Use

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

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;

  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. Stock up on supplies
  • Stock up on essential supplies such as personal protective equipment, First Aid supplies, needles, syringes and naloxone.
  1. 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: (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?

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 social 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 social distancing and self-quarantining, to limit the spread of COVID-19, virtual resources are essential.

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 [5] for more information.
  • Workers can be housed together, but it must enable them to maintain a social 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 [6]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 [7] 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 June 12, 2020 by Dr. Wajid Ahmed, Medical Officer of Health of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. This order requires the following actions:

  1. Ensure that all employees current or future are exclusively working within one workplace. Individuals who are employed at more than one facility must immediately limit this to one premise.
  2. Ensure that any contracted employees current or future are exclusively working for one workplace. Individuals who have been contracted by more than one facility at a time must immediately limit this to one premise.
  3. Ensure that accurate and updated contact information for all employees (permanent, temporary, or contract) is available to be produced to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit within 24 hours of request in support of case management and contact tracing requirements.
  4. Follow any directions provided to you by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit pertaining to COVID-19 and the terms of this Order. This may include ensuring adherence to self-isolation orders issued to employees, ensuring that required public health measures such as active screening and physical distancing are maintained at all times within your workplace, and supporting all aspects of investigations related to communicable diseases, including COVID-19 conducted by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.
  5. Ensure that meals are provided to Temporary Foreign Workers completing isolation requirements. Meals must be nutritious and well balanced. Employers must accommodate dietary restrictions for workers under isolation. Workers under isolation must also be able to store food in a safe manner.
  6. Ensure that potable water is available at all times to migrant employees under isolation.
  7. No Temporary Foreign Workers can be moved into a non-inspected living accommodation.
  8. Ensure that the health unit is contacted for approval if renovations within pre-existing and approved living accommodations that impact floor space, number of faucets, toilets, showers, and/or bathtubs.
  9. Ensure that all individuals that are under health unit supervision for case and contact management have ongoing access to communication devices (cellular phone or landline) and this contact information is made available to the health unit at all times. Individuals should not be sharing the device with more than 5 people and should be disinfected between uses.

Ensure that all known instances of non-compliance with the Emergency Management and Civil Protections Act, Quarantine Act or isolation requirements are reported immediately to the appropriate agency.

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.

Travel Restrictions

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 [8] 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 [18] 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 ext. 1420

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.


Testing is available for the following populations:

  • All people with at least one symptom of COVID-19, even for mild symptoms.
  • People who are concerned that they have been exposed to COVID-19. This includes people who are contacts of or may have been exposed to a confirmed or suspected case.
  • People who are at risk of exposure to COVID-19 through their employment, including essential workers.

Currently it may take several days to get the results of your COVID-19 test. You can check for your results yourself online using your health card number.

If your results are not posted or if you have an old red and white health card, please contact the location you had your test completed.

WRH (Windsor Regional Hospital)
Phone Number: 519-254-5577 Ext. 33168

ESHC (Eris Shores Healthcare)
Phone Number: 519-326-2373 Ext. 4510 (You must leave a voicemail and they will call you back)

Windsor’s COVID-19 Assessment Centre is located at the Windsor Regional Hospital Ouellette Campus with its entrance off Goyeau Street (located to the left of the Emergency Department entrance). Please note there is NO access from the main hospital into the Assessment Centre. All access is from the entrance off Goyeau Street.

There will be no medication or treatment onsite at the COVID-19 Assessment Centre.

Monday to Friday - 8 am to 7 pm
Saturdays and Sundays - 9 am to 4 pm

Windsor Regional Hospital Ouellette Campus
1030 Ouellette Avenue, Windsor
Entrance from Goyeau Street, to the left of the Emergency Department

Essex County’s COVID-19 Assessment Centre is located at Erie Shores HealthCare (ESHC) at the ambulatory clinic off Fader Street in a segregated area next to the ESHC emergency department. Please note, there will be NO access into the main hospital from this entrance and NO access to the COVID-19 Assessment Centre directly from the main hospital.  The only point of access is from the entrance off Fader Street.

There will be no medication or treatment onsite at the COVID-19 Assessment Centre.

Every day (Monday to Sunday)
8AM* to 6PM
Please note 8AM to 9AM is designated for surgery patients to get tested.

Erie Shores HealthCare
194 Talbot Street West, Leamington
Entrance from Fader Street, segregated area next to the Emergency Department

First Nation, Métis, and Inuit people and their families may also choose to visit the Southwest Aboriginal Health Access Centre (SOAHAC) Windsor location for assessment and testing for COVID-19. Screening and testing is appointment based. Call SOAHAC at 519-916-1755

Monday to Friday 8:30am – 4:30pm

1405 Tecumseh Road West, Unit 2
Windsor, ON

St. Clair College SportsPlex (temporary location)


  • Monday - Friday: 8 am to 7 pm
  • Saturday - Sunday (and statutory holidays): 9 am to 4 pm

St Clair College - Windsor Campus
SportsPlex (Southside of the St. Clair College)
2000 Talbot Rd. West, Windsor

Parking: Free parking is available on site.

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.



Paper and tissue paper

3 hours


4 hours


24 hours


2 days


2 days

Stainless Steel

2-3 days

Polypropylene Plastic

3 days


4 days

Paper Money

4 days

Outside of Surgical Mask

7 days

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:

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:

Viruses, like COVID-19 are transferred through large droplets created when someone sneezed 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.


Working in the United States

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.

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”

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 48-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 is prohibited 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 ext. 1420 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 ext. 1420 for information.

Please refer to the Ministry of Labour for any further questions related to workplace practices.

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.

As store sizes and layouts differ depending on the business, there is no set limit on the number of patrons permitted in a store at a given time. Business owners are required to ensure that there is room for physical distancing between patrons and staff at all times. The Framework for Reopening Stage 1 Guide suggests that businesses limit the number of patrons per square metre of space, for example, one customer per 4 square metres. For more about the Stage 1 reopening plan read the full document here.

All confirmed cases receive guidance from health unit nurses. Positive cases of COVID-19 must self-isolate for 14 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 two weeks, provided they have been symptom free for 48 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.

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 there 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.

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 surfaces, equipment and utensils

  • Note that glove use is not necessary and does not replace proper hand hygiene

  • Avoid close contact with customers and co-workers by maintaining a 2 metre distance from yourself and others as much as possible

For more detailed information from the Ministry for food service employers and workers, visit the Restaurant and food services health and safety during COVID-19 webpage.

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[222], 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 Ministry of Labour has instituted a new regulation for infectious disease emergency leave – specifically for employee leaves resulting from COVID-19 related issues 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.

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.

For example, employers could require everyone to complete the COVID-19 Screening tool prior to attending the worksite each day and follow the instructions provided. Everyone should be instructed to stay home if they are sick.

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.

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.