Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19
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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 properly wears personal protective equipment including a mask and eye protection at a minimum. Separate them immediately from others in a supervised area until they can go home or be picked up. If possible, stay two metres from the individual. When the individual has left, clean and disinfect the area where they were separated. For more information, see the Ministry of Education Operational Guidance
Yes. Unlicensed child care settings are required to actively screen all children, staff, and visitors.
Please visit the Ministry of Education for further guidance on screening for symptoms.
The Ministry of Education, in consultation with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour, has released a guidance document to support the operation of child care programs with enhanced health and safety guidelines.
The WECHU has also published a COVID-19 Guidelines for Child Care Centres in Windsor and Essex County document to assist child care centres with re-opening and operational procedures.
Some of the enhanced health and safety requirements include:
- Cohorting staff and children to decrease the number of people each child is exposed to.
- Limiting the number of locations each staff works at
- Establishing health and safety policies and procedures, following the advice of local public health units. This includes enhanced cleaning and disinfecting, changes to regular operations within the centre, physical distancing requirements, and protocols for isolating and sending home any staff or children who show signs or symptoms of illness.
- Guidance on the use of protective personal equipment (PPE)
- Enhanced safety measures for drop-offs and pick-ups
- Establishing screening procedures to assess symptoms related to COVID19
In addition, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit will work closely with operators to provide advice and recommendations to ensure the safety of staff, children and their families.
Each centre may have different procedures depending on their available space. The Ministry of Education encourages each centre to share information of their new health and safety procedures with families.
Parents should contact their child's daycare for more information on specific measures to follow once they reopen.
COVID Alert Exposure Notification App
COVID Alert is a voluntary exposure notification app. Exposure notifications are alerts that people can receive on their cell phones to let them know if they’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
For more information on the COVID Alert App and how it works, visit the Government of Canada website for the COVID Alert App.
Yes. Vaccines are only available to those who meet the eligibility criteria, but one caregiver can be at the appointment for support.
Yes, a family member can assist in filling out the online booking form. For those unable to book online, help is available by contacting the booking hotline at 226-773-2200. Due to high call volumes, it may take multiple attempts to speak with a representative.
Yes. If you do not have an OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) card, you can still get a vaccine by presenting another form of a government issued-photo ID such as a driver’s license, passport, Status Card or other provincial health cards. You do not have to be a Canadian citizen to receive a vaccine if you are a current resident of Windsor-Essex and in an eligible group.
It is recommended to speak with your health care provider before you receive the vaccine if you have any pre-existing health conditions or concerns.
Guidance for special populations, including individuals with autoimmune conditions and immunocompromised persons, and individuals with allergies is available in the Vaccination Recommendations for Special Populations guidance document.
Pregnant individuals may choose to receive the vaccine at any time during their pregnancy, and those who are breastfeeding can also receive a vaccine. It is recommended that pregnant or breastfeeding individuals have a discussion prior to being vaccinated with their treating health care provider or with a health care provider familiar with their pregnancy. Please see the COVID-19 Vaccination Recommendations for Special Populations for further details on COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant individuals. In addition, view Vaccination in Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Decision-Making Support Tool.
Please note: The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) does not provide individual patient counselling on the suitability of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals should speak to their health care provider about any serious allergies or other health concerns they may have before receiving the vaccine.
Individuals who have previously had COVID-19 can still receive the second dose. Individuals cannot receive the vaccine if they currently have COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19. If you have received the first dose, you can receive the second dose if you have fully recovered and have no symptoms.
Yes. Please continue to follow current public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Individuals who have been vaccinated will receive a paper receipt of vaccination and if they consent to receive information electronically, they can receive a digital receipt via email.
To get your vaccination receipts, visit https://covid19.ontariohealth.ca/.
Updating personal information in the vaccine database:
The contact information you provided at your first dose appointment will be used to communicate with you about your second dose appointment if required. If you have since changed your contact information, please contact the agency who administered your first dose to request that your information be updated. This request may be completed on a case by case basis for essential changes only.
Individuals who are homebound or with mobility issues can request accessible transportation support by calling 2-1-1. This free helpline is available 24 hours a day and can offer referrals to local services available to help with transportation to a vaccination site. Learn more about available transportation/childcare/accessibility supports.
Yes. If you have already had COVID-19, have fully recovered from it, and are eligible to receive the vaccine under Ontario’s phased distribution plan, there are no limitations on receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
It is very important that those who have tested positive for COVID-19 not leave isolation to try to obtain a vaccine. Individuals must complete their isolation period, be symptom free, and meet current eligibility criteria before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
As further information becomes available from clinical trials and Health Canada approvals, the groups for which the vaccines are authorized for use could change. To view current recommendations, visit Recommendations for the Use of COVID-19 Vaccines.
When a large percentage of the population becomes immune to a disease, in this case - COVID-19, the spread of the virus will slow down or stop. This is known as herd immunity. In most cases, 80 to 95% of the population must be immune to a disease to stop its spread and achieve herd immunity.
Until herd immunity is achieved, we all must continue to follow local public health advice for our region and avoid travelling. Read about current public health advice for our region.
If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, isolate yourself from others and complete the online self-assessment to determine your next steps.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you are required to continue self-isolating and follow guidance outlined on our website. The WECHU case management team will record this when you are followed up with as a positive case. Please inform your case manager of your vaccination history when you are contacted.
For second dose eligibility and booking information, please visit www.wevax.ca.
COVID-19 vaccines should not be received at the same time as other vaccines. You can receive other vaccines after at least 28 days after you receive the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. You should wait 14 days after receiving another vaccine before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
For the current distribution phase, daily doses administered, total doses administered, and total vaccinations completed, visit the Government of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccines for Ontario webpage.
The mass vaccination sites, participating pharmacies, and participating primary care providers are currently providing first doses of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. Information on second doses can be found by visiting www.WEVax.ca. Please note: Individuals under the age of 18 on the day of their appointment are only eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Please visit wechu.org/cv/vaccine to learn more about the vaccines currently authorized by Health Canada. If you have any concerns about whether a COVID-19 vaccine is right for you, please contact your health care provider.
See current eligible populations for first and second dose appointments and booking information by visiting www.WEVax.ca.
Please note that the provincial government’s three phase vaccine distribution plan sets the order and priorities for distribution for local public health units to follow. The groups selected in each phase are based on an ethical framework established by the Government of Ontario.
A ‘variant’ is when the virus has changed or mutated. Some variants of the virus can become a concern for public health when the mutation or change makes it harder to stop the spread. For example, a variant of concern (VOC) can:
- Spread more easily
- Cause more severe symptoms
- Make it harder to diagnose
- Affect the effectiveness of the vaccine
The provincial distribution plan has not been altered due to the VOCs.
Public health is monitoring variant strains of COVID-19 and ensuring safety recommendations are followed in order to stop the spread of the virus. For more information, visit Public Health Ontario’s website.
COVID-19 Vaccine Myths and Facts
Fact: No. None of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection. If your body develops an immune response to vaccination, which is the goal, you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.
Fact: No. Your menstrual cycle cannot be affected by being near someone who received a COVID-19 vaccine. Many things can affect menstrual cycles, including stress, changes in your schedule, problems with sleep, and changes in diet or exercise. Infections may also affect menstrual cycles.
Fact: None of the approved COVID-19 vaccines have porcine gelatin (a substance derived from pork products commonly used to stabilize vaccines) listed as a non-medical ingredient.
Fact: There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta. In addition, there is no evidence that fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines.
Like all vaccines, scientists are studying COVID-19 vaccines carefully for side effects now and will continue to study them for many years.
Fact: Precautions such as wearing a mask and physical distancing are still required, even if you are vaccinated. Public Health officials will let you know when precautions are no longer needed.
Fact: It is important you talk to your healthcare provider for advice based on your medical history before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Fact: Similar to other vaccines, some individuals can develop short-term and mild side effects after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Ongoing research is showing that serious side effects are extremely rare. Experiencing mild side effects, such as pain where the needle was given, tiredness, chills, headache, and muscle pain can be expected and indicates that the vaccine is working to produce protection or immunity.
Infection with the COVID-19 virus can lead to a variety of longer lasting, mild to severe symptoms.
Fact: Both mRNA and viral vector COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way. Both types of COVID-19 vaccines deliver instructions to our cells to start building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. However, these instructions never enter the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept. This means the instructions in the vaccines cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way. All COVID-19 vaccines work with the body's natural defense to safely develop immunity to the disease.
Fact: No this does not happen. Vaccine shedding is the term used to describe the release or discharge of any of the vaccine components in or outside of the body. Vaccine shedding can only occur when a vaccine contains a weakened version of the virus. None of the vaccines authorized for use contain a live virus. The mRNA and viral vector vaccines are the two types of currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines available.
Fact: The COVID-19 vaccines were developed quickly, however, are still safe and effective. Only vaccines that Health Canada determines to be safe and effective will be approved for use in Canada and Ontario.
The progress on COVID-19 vaccines is happening quickly for many reasons including:
- Research on other strains of coronavirus before COVID-19 (e.g. Sars-CoV),
- Advances in science and technology,
- International collaboration among scientists, health professionals, researchers, industry and governments, and
- Increased dedicated funding.
Health Canada has maintained the same scientific and quality standards for the review and approval of COVID-19 vaccines that were in place before the pandemic. All four approved vaccines are effective at preventing severe, symptomatic infection with COVID-19.
Fact: You cannot get the COVID-19 virus from the COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19 and do not cause the disease they are designed to prevent.
Fact: People who have recovered from COVID-19 may contract the virus again and would still benefit from the protection of the vaccine. It is important to follow public health guidelines after you have recovered from COVID-19 to protect yourself from contracting the virus again.
No. Children are not at a higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. The majority of confirmed COVID-19 cases are in adults.
Symptoms in children are generally mild; however, children with serious underlying conditions might be at a higher risk for severe illness with COVID-19. Parents are advised to call their health care provider or complete the online assessment tool if their child is showing symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19.
The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in children and adults; however, children may experience atypical symptoms/signs that should be considered. Please visit the Ministry of Health COVID-19 Reference Document for Symptoms for more information about common symptoms, other symptoms/signs, and atypical symptoms/signs of COVID-19.
Parents are advised to call their health care provider if their child is feeling unwell or showing common symptoms, other symptoms/signs, or atypical symptoms/signs of COVID-19.
Yes. Mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 must isolate themselves in their homes as much as possible and practice physical distancing by keeping a two metres distance from others in their home. However, there is an exception when mothers are caring for their baby. Mothers may stay in the same room as their baby if they’d like, but should take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus to the baby:
- Wash hands often, especially before and after touching the baby or other children.
- Wear a medical mask, or if not available, a non-medical mask or face covering if close contact with others and the baby cannot be avoided. The mask should completely cover the nose and mouth without gaping.
- Keep their surrounding environment clean and disinfected.
Yes. A mother with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 can still breastfeed. When breastfeeding with COVID-19, women should cough or sneeze into their bent elbow or a tissue, wear a mask, wash their hands and breast before and after touching the baby, routinely clean and disinfect surfaces, and consider covering the baby with a light blanket or towel during feeding.
Breastfeeding women should be aware of symptoms associated with COVID-19 and contact their health care provider early on if they feel unwell.
Yes. Breastfeeding mothers can continue to breastfeed if their child has COVID-19. If you are feeding with formula or expressed milk, sterilize the equipment carefully before each use and do not share bottles or pump.
There is currently not enough evidence to indicate that a pregnant mother can pass the COVID-19 virus to her fetus or infant during pregnancy and delivery. Additionally, the COVID-19 virus DNA was not found in the amniotic fluid, placenta, and breastmilk from pregnant women with confirmed COVID-19.
There is insufficient evidence at this time if COVID-19 can cause problems during pregnancy.
Pregnant individuals may choose to receive the vaccine at any time during their pregnancy. It is recommended that pregnant individuals have a discussion prior to being vaccinated with their treating health care provider or with a health care provider familiar with their pregnancy. Please see the COVID-19 Vaccination Recommendations for Special Populations for further details on COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant individuals. In addition, please view the Vaccination in Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Decision-Making Support Tool.
Physical distancing is the best option to avoid spreading the virus to a newborn or other household members. However, if families choose to have visitors, they should follow these tips to protect their family from getting the virus. Families are recommended to limit the amount of visitors to reduce their number of close contacts. While everyone loves snuggling with a baby, ask visitors to keep a safe distance from the baby to reduce the spread of germs. Do not have visitors if anyone in the home has or may have COVID-19. The WECHU advises new parents to avoid visits from anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19, has travelled within the last two weeks, and is sick. And remember, if a family chooses not to have visitors, that’s ok too, because only they know what’s best for their family.
Families are advised to contact their healthcare professional if they have questions about their newborn. Depending on individual family situations or health needs, a healthcare professional may provide alternative advice.
No. Caesarean sections should only be performed when medically justified. Mode of birth should be based on a woman’s preferences alongside obstetric indications.
To care for a child with COVID-19 at home, monitor for worsening symptoms, which may include fast breathing, difficulty breathing, confusion, an inability to recognize you, chills from a fever or a fever that will not come down with fever-reducing medication (e.g., ibuprofen, acetaminophen) for more than 12 hours. In addition, the caregiver should wash their hands and their child’s hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after any type of contact with the child and after removing gloves. Only one healthy person should provide care for the child.
If the child has symptoms, all members of the household should stay home to prevent spreading the virus to others. Members of the household should only leave for medical attention (e.g. appointments or for COVID-19 testing).
If a child develops severe symptoms, call 9-1-1. When calling an ambulance, tell the dispatcher that the child has/may have COVID-19. If a child is going to the hospital in a private vehicle, call ahead and let them know they have/may have COVID-19. For more information on how to care for a child with COVID-19 at home, please visit the Government of Canada website.
Parents should maintain communication with their children while being patient and understanding. Parents know their children best, but may want to consider these tips:
- Stay calm.
- Don’t complicate the situation, keep it simple and clear.
- Listen to children’s fears and thoughts.
- Keep information age appropriate.
- Limit news and media exposure.
- Try to establish a flexible routine.
Children’s Mental Health Ontario developed a resource to help parents talk to their children about COVID-19. Some of their tips include:
- Become informed about COVID-19 yourself and limit news exposure. Correct any misinformation about COVID-19.
- Focus on the details that are most relevant and things that you and your child can control.
- Limit routine changes where possible.
- Share information in as concrete a way as possible. Don’t complicate the situation – keep it simple and clear.
- Take time to validate their concerns with your words and attention.
- Review good hygiene practices and, if appropriate, make fun games out of these habits.
For more great tips, please see CAMH’s resource for Talking to Children about COVID-19 and Its Impact or the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s resource for Talking to Children about the
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. Remember that all physical activity must adhere to the current restrictions and guidance at
- Take an online fitness class or follow an exercise video
- Walk up and down the stairs in your home
- Practice yoga or meditation
- Grab a soccer ball, basketball, or football that you can kick or throw around in your yard. Be creative with your children on different ways you can play some games with the equipment.
- Bring some chalk outside and play hopscotch or other fun jumping/skipping games with your children.
- To get everyone in the family moving and away from those screens, include the whole family in cleaning or helping out with some yard work around the house.
Homeless Shelters & Group Homes/Co-Living Settings
- Expect that the homelessness service sector and residential settings will be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and anticipate modified service delivery based on staff capacity.
- Plan for staff and volunteer absences. Staff may need to stay home from work if they are sick, caring for a sick household member, or caring for children in the event of school dismissals.
- Identify critical job functions and positions at the shelter and plan for alternative coverage by cross-training current employees or hiring temporary employees/volunteers as required.
Unless you are a healthcare facility, personal protective equipment should be ordered through your regular supplier. Healthcare facilities can order through the Ministry of Health or reach out to their local public health unit for assistance.
- Routine cleaning followed by disinfection is a best practice to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Facilities should follow their protocols for regular cleaning and disinfection.
- Commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are effective against COVID-19. Check the expiry date before using cleaners and disinfectants, and always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use to ensure their effectiveness.
- In addition to routine cleaning, high-touch surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected at least twice per day, and when visibly dirty. Examples of high-touch surfaces include doorknobs, handrails, light switches, toilet handles, and faucet handles.
- Recommend posting a cleaning and disinfecting schedule
- Remove shared items that are difficult to clean.
For more information about cleaning and disinfecting for co-living settings check out the shelter guidance document or this PHO Frequently Asked Question document COVID-19: Congregate Living Settings.
- 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 otherwise healthy residents, 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)
Please visit ‘Restaurant, Bars, and Food or Drink Establishments’ guidance page for current restrictions and health measures for indoor/outdoor dining. Some of the requirements to consider are:
- Patio coverings, canopies, tents, should be as high as possible – recommended at least 3 metres in height. Umbrellas are allowed for sunshade.
- All patios and outdoor dining and beverage areas must be open to the air on at least 3 sides to allow for adequate air circulation.
- Blocking of open sides with plants, walls, etc. is not permitted.
Vendors and volunteers are required to wear a mask at outdoor Farmer’s Markets. If the Farmer’s Market is indoors, vendors, volunteers, and customers are required to wear a mask.
The number of tables allowed depends on the size of the approved outdoor patio or dining area. Consult your municipality for bylaws and other requirements for setting up an outdoor patio or dining area.
Please visit ‘Restaurant, Bars, and Food or Drink Establishments’ guidance page for current restrictions and health measures for indoor/outdoor dining.
While dining or drinking on an outdoor patio, or in an open-air setting of a food premises, non-medical masks or face coverings should be worn when not seated at a table and coming within 2 metres of another person.
When using any indoor space of the premises, the wearing of a mask IS required. This includes:
- Indoor take-out counters
- Indoor dining area except when seated at a table
- Food preparation areas that are open to the public.
For Owners/Operators and Staff of Food Premises
Non-medical masks or face coverings are required in areas accessible to the public, and in areas inaccessible to the public when staff cannot maintain a physical distance of 2 metres from each other.
In addition to wearing a non-medical mask or face covering, staff must wear eye protection when they are within 2 metres of patrons who are not wearing a non-medical mask or face covering. Review our fact sheet on approved eye protection for staff.
Please visit ‘Additional COVID-19 Guidance for Restaurants, Bars and Food and Drink Establishments’ guidance page for the current state or check the provincial Ontario’s Reopening three-step plan to see future restrictions and health measures for indoor/outdoor dining.
Please visit the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website for more information regarding this topic.
Self-isolation reduces the likelihood that an individual who is or may be infected with COVID-19 spreads it to others. A health care provider or public health agency may direct a person to self-isolate.
To learn when to self-isolate and how to self-isolate, visit How to Stop the Spread.
If you are unsure if you should self-isolate, visit Have COVID-19 or Been Exposed, complete the online self-assessment, or contact the WECHU @ 519-258-2146, Telehealth @ 1-866-797-0000, or your healthcare provider.
You need to self-monitor regularly for symptoms of COVID-19 and stay home when you (or someone in your household) are ill. Self-monitoring is even more important if you work or interact with vulnerable groups.
Consider subscribing to WECHU news releases to receive notifications about a possible public exposure. If you have been to this public facing business during certain dates and times you should be self-monitoring. If you develop symptoms, you should immediately self-isolate and contact a local assessment centre.
To learn how to self-monitor, visit Self-Monitor for COVID-19 Symptoms.
If a surface is visibly dirty, first clean with soap and water, and then follow with a disinfectant product at least twice per day. It is important to follow the directions provided on the disinfectant product e.g., allowing the agent to sit for 10 minutes (or what the manufactures recommends) before wiping dry, wearing gloves if required and ensuring the area is well ventilated. Visit the Government of Canada’s website or refer to this provincial guidance document Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings to learn more.
Long-Term Care Homes and Retirement Homes
Please review the chart below for details on the visiting permission for residents in Long-Term Care and Retirement Homes.
|Category||Essential visitors||General visitors|
Resident is not symptomatic or isolating
Resident is symptomatic or isolating
Please read the Visiting Long Term Care or Retirement home page for more details on current restrictions and requirements.
Twice daily, residents must be assessed for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 including temperature checks as a way to quickly identify illness. If a resident has fever, cough or other symptoms of COVID-19 or mild respiratory and/or atypical symptoms they must be isolated and get tested as per the COVID-19: Provincial Testing Requirements Update.
Long-term care and retirement homes must implement active screening, including a temperature check of all staff, visitors, and anyone else entering the home (residents returning from a visit) for COVID-19 except emergency first responders, who should, in emergencies, be permitted entry without screening. The COVID-19 Screening Tool for Long-Term Care Homes and Retirement Homes checks exposure and proper recent PPE usage. Active screening is required once per day at the beginning of a shift or visit and includes a temperature check after the questionnaire is passed.
Anyone not living at the home that is that does not pass the screen or is showing symptoms of COVID-19 must not be allowed to enter or leave the home and must be advised to go home immediately to self-isolate and be encouraged to get tested.
Retirement Homes’ staff should follow this memo, COVID-19 Testing for Retirement Homes as guidance. Partner organizations in the province have asked individuals that work in a retirement homes to be tested every two-weeks. Staff should bring a testing requisition forms to their local Assessment Centre when they go to get tested as the retirement homes are not required to provide testing. This surveillance testing is voluntary. The FAQ document, entitled COVID-19 Surveillance Testing Guidance Regarding Retirement Home Staff and Resident Testing is supportive of a better understanding. No retirement home in the Windsor-Essex County region has qualified for onsite testing of staff and residents as part of this surveillance testing directive. Note: Public Health Units will maintain their key roles in managing outbreak testing for retirement homes.
Long-Term Care Homes have transitioned to using point-of-care rapid antigen tests. These are requirements and not a voluntary measure. The requirements are evolving and can be found here: COVID-19: Long-term care home surveillance testing and access to homes. Here are some points related to this surveillance testing:
- Test frequency of staff, caregivers, student placements and volunteers are one PCR test and one antigen test on separate days within a seven-day period, spacing the PCR testing as close to seven days as can practically be achieved; OR
- If a staff, caregivers, student placements and volunteers are only coming in occasionally to the home that is only once in seven-days, they must test with an antigen test on the day that they are coming in. If perhaps there is a repeat visit on the day after the first visit of an occasional visitor the antigen test would not be required. In these situations a rapid test result are considered valid for two days. There are additional exemptions around vaccinated individuals.
- General visitors when permitted entry to a long-term care home must demonstrate that they have received a negative antigen test on that day or the day before their visit regardless if the visit is inside or outdoors. There are two exemptions to this requirement for testing:
1) A visitor previously identified as a COVID-19 case, that is if this individual had a lab-confirmation of COVID-19 and has now clearance (i.e., no longer isolating) identified by their local public health unit. The only reasons for retesting for an individual who previously tested positive are:
a) with new onset of signs or symptoms of COVID-19, and
b) can be considered:
- if there is exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19
- if there is a COVID-19 outbreak in the home
- at the direction of the local public health unit
2) Palliative and Emergency Situations: Despite the requirements set out in the test frequency and test timing sections of the COVID-19: Long-term care home surveillance testing and access to homes directive ‘the requirements for support workers, caregivers and general visitors do not need to be followed in an emergency or palliative situations, subject to any restrictions or requirements contained in Directive #3’
- Provincially there are exceptions noted with regards to two Long-Term Care Homes and vaccine status of staff, caregivers, student placements, and volunteers.
Caregivers entering a home must follow the direction regarding testing set by the home. The testing frequency can vary depending upon the type of test and the zone level that the home is presently in. Looking for more details on LTCH surveillance testing and how it impacts access, please read the Minister’s directive linked here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-long-term-care-home-surveillance-testing.
Surveillance testing refers to routine testing of asymptomatic staff and visitors who have not been exposed to COVID-19. This is different from COVID-19 testing of individuals who are symptomatic, have had high risk exposure, and/or in an outbreak setting and have been directed for testing by the local public health unit.
LTCHs must follow the requirements in the Minister’s Directive COVID-19: Long-Term Care Homes Surveillance Testing and Access to Homes or as amended.
The May 22, 2021 updated Directive #3 outlines various types of absences, i.e., medical, compassionate/palliative, short term (day), essential and social with set rules about each. All residents must be actively screened when returning to their home. Some absences require approval from the home before they are taken. Overnight absences require testing and possible isolation upon return.
Absences are also impacted by regional or provincial declared orders/acts. These shutdown measures can be reviewed on websites or discussed with the home staff. Additional allowances for fully immunized individuals may impact a resident’s ability to participate in social and temporary absences.
According to the Government of Ontario’s Retirement Homes Policy to Implement Directive # 3 residents who return from an absence that includes an overnight stay must complete a lab-based PCR test and then placed in isolation. If the resident is fully immunized and their test result is negative, isolation on Droplet and Contract Precaution can be discontinued. If the resident is partially or unimmunized the resident must be placed in isolation for a minimum of 10 days. On day 8 a second negative lab-based PCR test is required to discontinue isolation at day 10. If the second test is not obtained the resident must maintain isolation until day 14. There are some exceptions for recently recovered residents. The list of enhanced precautions are also listed in the Retirement Homes Policy to Implement Directive #3 document these are tied to the immunization rate of the home. Some of these are related to social gatherings, organized events, using common areas, and participating in recreational services.
According to this updated Ministry of Health COVID-19 Provincial Testing Guidance Update Document: If a resident living in a long-term care or retirement home develops symptoms of COVID-19, they must be placed in isolation, medically assessed and tested for COVID-19. Any roommates of the residents should also be places in isolation.
If a staff or visitor develops COVID-19 symptoms they are advised to go home immediately, to self-isolate and encouraged to be tested for COVID-19 using a lab-based PCR test.
The Health Unit may also, based on a risk assessment, determine if any additional testing is required and it’s frequency. There maybe re-testing of asymptomatic individuals who initially tested negative if they develop symptoms.
As part of the updated Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 guidance document for long-term care homes, any single confirmed case of COVID-19 who is a resident of a long-term care home or retirement home is considered a suspect outbreak for COVID-19.
A confirmed outbreak in a home is defined as two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in residents and/or staff (or other visitors) with an epidemiological link, within a 14-day period.
A confirmed outbreak in a home is removed from the WECHU outbreak list after 14 days with no new positive cases. For more information on COVID-19 or other respiratory or enteric outbreaks in a Long-Term Care Home or a Retirement Home please visit our Outbreaks Page.
The WECHU, works with homes to determine testing and support ongoing infection prevention and control practices as well as outbreak management. Health Inspectors are in regular contact with long-term care homes to provide guidance and support.
Long-Term Care and retirement homes must adhere to requirements as stated in COVID-19 Directive #3 for Long-Term Care homes. This includes conducting active screening of all staff and residents, at minimum twice daily (at the beginning and end of day). Anyone who fails the screening is required to immediately isolate. The home must ensure that staff Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is available near the point of care for all residents and that staff do not have to walk far to access it. PPE includes disposable gowns, gloves, procedural masks and eye protection. All symptomatic residents must be tested for COVID-19.
For more information about long-term care and retirement homes visit the long-term care section of our website.
An essential visitor prior to visiting a resident where the home is in an outbreak should have training on how to safely provide direct care, including putting on and taking off required PPE, and hand hygiene. If the home does not provide training it must direct caregivers and support workers to the appropriate resources from Public Health Ontario.
For homes not in outbreak every month the essential visitors, general visitors, and personal care service providers must verbally attest to have:
Read/Re-reading the following documents:
- The home’s visitor policy; and
- Public Health Ontario’s document entitled Recommended Steps: Putting on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Watched/Re-watched the following Public Health Ontario videos:
Surveillance testing is the proactive COVID-19 testing of individuals. Surveillance testing helps WECHU better understand the current state of COVID-19 infections in our region. The test results provide a snapshot of current infections and are used to track where the virus has spread. WECHU follows up immediately with homes and individuals (staff) if there is a positive test result.
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 Face Coverings & Eye Protection
No. Eye protection, including goggles, safety glasses or face shields should be worn in conjunction with a face mask/covering and are not a replacement or acceptable substitute for a face mask/covering.
For more information about personal protective equipment including authorized products, medical gowns and face shields visit the Government of Canada’s website.
It is not necessary for a person to present evidence to a business if they are entitled to any of the exemptions. Please be advised that businesses may have enacted policies which extend beyond the Provincial Order and refuse entry to any person not wearing a face covering.
Visit our Face Coverings & Eye Protection page for more information, including exemptions.
WECHU has created a poster for businesses to post to alert any customer, patron, employee or visitor about the mask policy.
Wearing a mask can increase your risk of infection if you touch your face more frequently while readjusting it or if you do not wash your hands before putting it on and taking it off. All parts of non-medical masks (i.e. cloth masks) can become contaminated by breathing or when touched by your hands. It is recommended to wash reusable face coverings as often as possible, when they become soiled/wet, or at the end of each day.
Visit the Government of Ontario’s Face Coverings and Face Masks webpage for instructions on how to properly use, remove or dispose, and clean face coverings.
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 covers your entire nose, mouth and chin, and is made of at least three layers and can be laundered multiple times without losing shape or deteriorating.
Using a face mask during periods of extreme heat may make breathing difficult, cause adverse skin reactions, and create discomfort due to extreme heat. When mask use is not feasible, maintain a physical distance of 2 metres from others. Learn how to protect yourself in extreme heat.
Medical masks were created to provide protection from droplets, splashes and sprays to the nose and mouth of the wearer. The outer side is fluid resistant, the middle layer provides filtration, and the inner layer is absorbent (for moisture from breathing, coughs, or sneezes). Medical masks also provide source control, containing the wearer’s own droplets inside the masks and thus protecting others.
Cloth masks can be considered for use for source control only. Cloth masks filter the expulsion of viral droplets from the wearer making them suitable for source control.
Face coverings do not have to be fancy or expensive but must completely cover the mouth and nose and provide a barrier limiting the transmission of infectious respiratory droplets and can include:
- A medical mask,
- A non-medical mask or face covering
Note: masks with exhalation valves are not recommended as they do not protect others from COVID-19 and do not limit the spread of the virus. Medical masks (surgical, medical procedure face masks and respirators like N95 masks) should be reserved for use by health care workers and first responders.
For more information on non-medical masks visit Public Health Agency of Canada website. For more information about personal protective equipment including authorized products, medical gowns and face shields visit the Government of Canada’s website.
Under the Provincial Order, employees are required to wear a face covering at all times in areas accessible to the public. In areas inaccessible to the public, employees are required to wear a face covering when physical distancing of 2 metres from others cannot be maintained.
A disposable mask should be removed and replaced if soiled, damaged, or hard to breathe through and should be discarded at the end of the day.
A mask should be replaced with a clean mask if it becomes damaged, damp, dirty, or if it no longer follows the Government of Canada requirements.
Non-medical masks can be re-used throughout the day if clean and intact – with clean hands, fold the mask in half so that the outer surface is inwards (so that the outer surface is not contacting anything during storage) and place it in a clean, sealable bag until ready to use it again the same day.
Everyone in the community can help to reduce the social stigma associated with COVID-19. Essential steps to reducing social stigma and discrimination include the following:
- 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 empathic towards those who have been affected by COVID-19 in any country, as those with the disease have done nothing wrong.
- Use inclusive language and terminology to describe and talk about individuals who may be affected by COVID-19. This includes using person-first language. For example, 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”.
- Avoid reading or listening to social media posts about COVID-19, where it originated from, or how it spread – many of these posts are just stories and not facts.
- Speak out against stigmatizing behaviours or negative statements about certain groups of people regarding COVID-19. Correct misconceptions that people may believe or spread by sharing facts from credible and reliable sources.
- Support people who may be experiencing stigma and discrimination related to COVID-19. Reassure them that they have done nothing wrong and connect them to community resources and supports if required. Please see the “Where to Get Help &
Resources” section of this website for more information on community resources and supports.
- Find opportunities to amplify positive and hopeful stories about individuals who have been affected by COVID-19. This may include stories about people who have successfully recovered from the disease and are willing to share their experiences with others.
- Thank healthcare workers and first responders for their continued support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Acknowledge the role they play in saving lives and keeping the community safe.
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.
If a loved one is in a crisis, please contact the local crisis line at 519-973-4435, 911, or go to
your local emergency department.
Every person will respond differently to the COVID-19 pandemic and will have a different method of coping. Regardless of coping style, loved ones can offer support to family members and friends experiencing anxiety or stress during the COVID-19 pandemic by doing the following:
- Invite the person to talk. Listen to the person non-judgmentally and empathize with their situation. This includes allowing the person to speak freely by listening and asking questions without telling the person what to do. Try to understand where the person is coming from and always maintain open lines of communication.
- Take 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 referring them to a mental health professional.
- Remind the person that it is normal to feel stressed or anxious during this time and that there are supports available that have helped others. This message helps to counter any shame associated with mental distress, reluctance to talk about it, or reluctance to reach out for help.
- 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 “Where to Access Help & Resources” section of this website for more information about the community resources that are available during this time.
Stay up-to-date on accurate information from legitimate sources.
It is important to stay informed about COVID-19 in order to take action in reducing its spread; however, the mass of information circulating through social media and other media channels can be overwhelming. A lot of information is disseminated about COVID-19 every day, but not all of it is accurate. Seek 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.
Limit media consumption.
Limiting media consumption can help to avoid increased feelings of stress or anxiety. Try to check in with media sources only once or twice per day and avoid watching or listening to media that may cause stress, anxiety, or fear. Instead, schedule enough time for activities that do not involve screens or technology, such as crafts, gardening, or reading.
Social stigma in the context of physical and mental health occurs when there is a negative association between a person or group of people who share certain characteristics and a specific disease. Social stigma often results from fear and uncertainty about things that are not fully understood, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Not all information presented in social media or in other outlets is accurate or up-to-date. This can create misconceptions about the disease, where it originated from, or how it spreads. These misconceptions can result in the labelling, stereotyping, discrimination, or prejudicial treatment of certain groups of people, places, or things, such as:
- Attaching COVID-19 to a specific nationality, ethnicity, or geographic location, even though not everyone in these populations is 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 take-out restaurants or grocers owned by people from specific nationalities or ethnicities
Socially avoiding or rejecting individuals that work in healthcare settings, first responder fields, or other essential workplaces due to fear about COVID-19.
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.
During this time, signs and symptoms of stress and anxiety may appear in different ways for different people. In order to prevent overwhelming feelings of stress/anxiety, it is important to recognize these signs and symptoms as they occur and try to avoid ignoring or suppressing them. Recognizing and acknowledging signs and symptoms of stress/anxiety is the first step to establishing a plan for managing them. The following list provides several examples of how stress and anxiety may affect people during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Emotional or Psychological Symptoms
The COVID-19 pandemic is a new virus that is still being learned about every day. Constant changes are continuing to unfold as new information becomes available and there are still a lot of unknowns. Given the uncertainty of the situation and the masses of information being delivered through social media and other media networks, it is normal to feel stressed or anxious.
Everyone will respond to the COVID-19 pandemic differently; however, there are common sources of stress and anxiety during this time. Stressful conditions during the pandemic include:
- Fears of becoming ill or infecting others with COVID-19
- Anxiety about having to monitor yourself or others for signs and symptoms of the disease
- Feelings of social isolation, loneliness, boredom, or depression while physical distancing
- Concerns about job security, income, or finances during workplace closures or reduced hours
- Concerns about securing childcare or continuing your child’s education during transitions to and from new learning models
- Concerns about your ability to effectively care for other loved ones during the pandemic, such as older adults or individuals with a mental illness or substance use disorder
For those who feel overwhelmed by feelings of stress, anxiety, or other emotions related to COVID-19, it is important to talk to someone about how you are feeling. Reaching out for support in these situations can be very helpful in managing stress and reducing overwhelming thoughts or emotions. There are several local supports and services available for assistance.
For information about mental health or substance use services in Windsor-Essex County, please contact Connex Ontario at 1-866-531-2600. Connex-Ontario offers free and confidential health services information for individuals experiencing mental health, substance use, or gambling issues. It also maintains a centralized and up-to-date database of treatment service information. By calling the above phone number, timely and accurate information about the services available in Windsor-Essex County will be provided, including:
- A detailed description of the service
- Where the service is located
- How to access the service
- How long the wait to access the service may be
For more information, please visit connexontario.ca/.
For more on local resources related to mental health visit our webpage here.
Multi-Unit Dwellings & Rentals
- Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly and often.
- Cough and sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue. Dispose of the tissue immediately and wash your hands.
- Create an emergency preparedness plan to ensure you have what you need if you need to self-isolate.
- Stay in your room or unit if you are experiencing symptoms and complete the online self-assessment if you think you are sick or have been in contact with someone known to have COVID-19.
- For further assistance contact your health care provider or Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000.
- Regularly clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces in your unit, especially if in shared living spaces.
- Practice physical distancing by:
- Limiting individuals in your unit to only health care supports or essential services required for security and maintenance.
- Check in with friends, family, and neighbors by phone or using other technology.
- Avoiding crowded elevators by waiting for an empty one, if available.
- Avoiding the use of the mail room at the same time as other residents/tenants.
- Limiting the number of people in the laundry room or other common areas so that the minimum distance of 2 metres or 6 feet can be maintained as residents/tenants use the appliances or other amenities.
- Avoid gatherings of any kind in shared spaces within the building such as the lobby or recreation rooms, or outside on the property such as entranceways or gazebos.
- Follow these measures if you are using shared laundry facilities:
- Wash your hands before and after doing the laundry.
- Disinfect the controls before and after using the machine.
- Use soap and the warmest water possible. Do not overload the machine.
- Dry items completely at the highest temperature setting.
- Disinfect hampers before using them for clean clothes.
- Fold laundry in your unit.
- Keep the dryer door closed when not using to prevent back drafting.
- Avoid shaking out or hugging dirty laundry.
- Do not leave soiled clothing or baskets on top of machines.
- Do not leave cleaning residues in machines that could damage other people’s clothing.
- Limit the number of people in the laundry room to ensure physical distancing; scheduling may be necessary for busy facilities.
The National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health (NCCEH) has prepared COVID-19 Precautions for Multi-unit Residential Buildings provides specific recommendations for this setting.
Ventilation and filtration are important for overall indoor air quality as well as COVID-19 risk reduction, yet these must be used in conjunction with all other public health measures to minimize transmission risk. A well-functioning HVAC system can remove and dilute aerosols that may contain viruses from indoor space, but they will not eliminate the risk from COVID-19 transmission during close contact exposures. Most general guidance encourage ventilation with outdoor air (i.e., avoiding recirculation) as far as practically possible and ensuring clean filters. For more information, see Interim Guidance for Multi-Unit Dwellings.
- Proper screening of staff to ensure that they have no symptoms of COVID-19, have not been diagnosed with COVID-19, travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days, are not considered a close contact of someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or advised to be in isolation.
- Postpone any non-urgent inspections, renovations, or repair work, if possible.
- Post signs to encourage the use of masks or face covering in public areas or the building
- Close all onsite recreational amenities (e.g., pools, gyms) and gathering spaces (e.g., party or entertainment rooms).
- Post the limit of people that can 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 making a schedule or staggering time to use laundry machines.
- Limit and post the number of people who can use the elevator at the same time to ensure physical distancing. You may have to use the elevator one person (or unit cohort) at a time.
- 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, recycling, and garbage chutes handles, and buzzer systems.
- Although commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are effective against COVID-19, it is recommended that disinfectants contain an 8-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN) which indicates that the product has been approved for use in Canada.
- Make sanitizer stations available in commonly used areas, if possible.
- Encourage anyone recently returning from international travel to self-isolate for 14 days in their unit and use delivery options if they need food, groceries, or other supplies.
- If symptoms develop, individuals should complete the online self-assessment to determine the next steps.
People Who Use Substances or Smoke
- The use of tobacco harms your respiratory system which is the main area of the body that COVID-19 attacks.
- It also weakens your immune system making it harder for your body to fight off the virus.
- Individuals who smoke may already have lung disease, reduced lung capacity, or cardiovascular disease which increases their risk of serious outcomes if they contract COVID-19.
- Conditions that increase oxygen needs or reduce the ability of the body to use it properly will put patients at higher risk of serious lung conditions like pneumonia.
- People who smoke or vape are likely to be at higher risk of getting COVID-19 as the act of smoking means bringing your hands to your face, increasing the likelihood of transmitting the virus.
- It is known that smoking increases the risk of both bacterial and viral infections.
- Smoking can be a social activity and sharing cigarettes or other smoking devices such as e-cigarettes and water pipes, often involve the sharing of mouth pieces and hoses, can present a risk for transmitting the virus between people.
The high prevalence of chronic medical conditions among people who use drugs suggests that they may be at higher risk of getting infected with COVID-19. Recreational drug use is linked with reduced pulmonary function and immune suppression, both of which are risk factors for COVID-19. Because COVID-19 attacks the lungs, people who smoke or vape drugs are likely to experience severe respiratory symptoms if they become infected. With evidence showing that the odds of COVID-19 infection becoming severe is 14 times higher among people who had a history of smoking compared to those who don’t smoke, more attention should be focused on people within this population. Some examples of severe respiratory complications from drug use include;
- Tobacco and nicotine dependence from the use of cigarettes and vaping devices have been associated with negative health outcomes such as cancer, bronchitis and emphysema.
- Cannabis smoke has been shown to cause chronic bronchitis, a respiratory condition that could be worsened by COVID-19
- Smoking crack cocaine has been associated with lung damage and severe respiratory problems. Thus, with the imminent reduced lungs function from COVID-19, people who use drugs would likely experience negative health outcomes.
- Methamphetamine, an opioid drug, has been shown to reduce lung function by constricting blood vessels. A COVID-19 diagnosis could further lead to poor prognosis.
- Opioid use can negatively impact the body’s immune system. As a result, people who use drugs may be at a higher risk of getting infected with COVID-19 virus.
- Identifying and maintaining essential services such as client services, payroll and communication
- Creating internal policies and emergency operations plan specifically for dealing with people who use drugs.
- Anticipating potential medication and equipment shortages and creating contingency plans to deal with supply chain disruptions.
- Identifying and stockpiling essential supplies that are required for service delivery
- Anticipating potential staff shortages and creating mitigation plans such as cross-training employees on critical job functions, creating flexible attendances and sick-leave policies
- Currently this is not known. However, it is well know that quitting smoking improves lung health quickly
- Visit the Smokers’ Helpline webpage to learn more about the health benefits of quitting smoking.
If, in the course of your work, you encounter a client with a suspected case of COVID-19, it is recommended that you immediately report this to your Supervisor/Manager. The following are safety measures that you may consider implementing;
- Educate clients about safer drug use
- Provide clients with drug use education to prevent sharing of drug supplies and equipment.
- Focus education on the need for social distancing in order to by advising clients to reduce physical contact with other people who use drugs wherever possible
- Clients should be advised to prepare their drugs themselves
- Ensure health monitoring and surveillance activities for people who use drugs
- Identify and isolate individuals who show signs of a respiratory infection
- Closely monitor symptoms and immediately refer serious cases to the hospital
- Maintain hygiene
- Provide COVID-19 prevention supplies such as soap, alcohol-based sanitizers, trash baskets and face-masks for clients at the facility.
- Maintaining a clean space is critical in curbing the spread of COVID-19 your facility. Workers are advised to regularly disinfect and clean surfaces
- Educate clients about proper hand hygiene methods and encourage them to immediately report symptoms
- Stock up on supplies
- Stock up on essential supplies such as personal protective equipment, First Aid supplies, needles, syringes and naloxone.
- Recommend buddy up system for people who use drugs
- It is advisable for clients who are on quarantine to find buddies who can bring them food, harm reduction supplies, medicines and drugs that they require.
- Ensure clients maintain 2 metres 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.
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 Pharmacist’s Role in Managing Opioid Use Disorder’s during COVID-19
For professionals in the healthcare sector that work with people who use substances there are unique considerations due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Some of these include:
- Potential medication shortages,
- Pharmacy disruption to dispensing
- Patient illness or quarantine
Access to prescription medications may be limited during this time. So it is important to work with clients, especially those that are taking Opioid Agonist Therapies (OAT), such a methadone and buprenorphine. New interim guidelines (March 23, 2020) for management of OAT address office visits, remote visits, carry doses, and frequency of urine drug testing during the COVID-19 pandemic. For additional guidance visit: www.metaphi.ca (METPHI/OMA, March 22, 2020).
Some patients that use substances or have a substance use disorder may find self-isolation and stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic could worsen their problems. Additional information on supports for these patients can be accessed on Windsor Essex Community Opioid and Substance Strategy’s website -Get Help in Windsor-Essex during COVID-19
- It is not currently known if former smokers have a higher risk of getting COVID-19 compared to people who have never smoked.
- People who smoke are at increased risk of lung infections in general, but the lungs do heal relatively quickly when people stop smoking. It is not yet known how long is long enough to reduce the risk to the same as someone who has never smoked.
- If you previously smoked and are now quit, it is likely you will have a lower risk of severe complications (if you were infected with the virus) than you would have if you were still smoking.
When administering naloxone to client, use a face shield with one-way valve masks as it provides adequate protection to the harm reduction worker and the client. It is important to note that the use of bag valve mask, high flow oxygen and non-rebreathers may increase the risk of transmission due to possible contact with respiratory droplets.
People who use substances and their loved ones may be especially impacted by this current public health emergency. A list of local services and supports, as well as any changes to those services can be found by visiting the Windsor Essex Community Opioid and Substance Strategy’s website -Get Help in Windsor-Essex during COVID-19.
- Adapting spaces within your facility in order to increase physical distancing between clients.
- Establishing measures to prevent overcrowding such as limiting the number of visitors at the facility and reducing the duration of stay.
- Ensuring that the environment is kept clean and frequently disinfected to protect the health of the workers and clients at the facility.
- Educating clients about respiratory etiquettes to prevent spread of COVID-19
- Creating spaces within the facility that can be used to accommodate clients who show symptoms of respiratory illness.
- Monitoring the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit website for current information related to COVID-19.
Personal Service Settings
Yes, Registered Massage Therapists are permitted to provide professional services for clients. The College of Massage Therapists of Ontario has created a COVID-19 Pandemic - Practice Guidance for Massage Therapists.
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.
Looking for additional information? The Workplace Safety & Prevention Services have created Workplace Safety & Prevention Services Guidance on Health and Safety for the Personal Care Service Sector during COVID-19.
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 on-site, 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 occur between each client.
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.
Please review the Pandemic Status page to determine if personal care services are open or closed under current public health measures.
Establishments providing personal care services in a home based setting can reopen with the proper health and safety protocols in place, including all relevant legislation and guidance.
Provided the Personal Service Setting (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. The CDC recommends wearing gloves when you are cleaning or caring for someone who is sick. The PHO guide, Glove Selection offers a bit more detail.
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 Personal Service Setting PSS Regulation. For more detailed information on cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing, including disinfection strengths and contact 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.
Check to see if personal care services are open or closed under public health measures on our Pandemic Status page for current restrictions.
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 a 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 clients with (or make available for purchase) 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 using the WECHU Workplace Screening Tool. 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. 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 a barrier to select from. Clients should perform hand hygiene before receiving a manicure.
Please visit WECHU’s COVID Workplaces Fact Sheets for Specific Businesses and Organizations for the current state or check the provincial Ontario’s Reopening three-step plan to see future restrictions and health measures for personal service settings.
If you are physically distancing, you may leave your home for essential trips (such as work, grocery shopping, or picking up medication) while still limiting contact with others. Self-isolation means that you do not leave your home (unless for medical attention), and you avoid close contact with individuals in your home.
Physical distancing helps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect our community. Physical distancing means limiting the number of people you come into close contact with, and reducing your interactions with others by staying home, when possible, and keeping a distance of 2 metres (6 feet) or more from others.
Learn more about Physical Distancing.
No. Prescription eyeglasses are not accepted as a form of eye protection as they may not fully cover the eye area and do not provide coverage from the side. If prescription eyeglasses are worn, another type of eye protection must be worn over the eyeglasses.
Eye protection, such as goggles, face shields, and safety glasses, can be re-used by the same user if it is cleaned/disinfected after each use or until it becomes cracked or visibility is compromised. Eye protection must be cleaned and disinfected between uses. When dry, store in a labelled paper or plastic bag.
All eye protection should be properly cleaned and disinfected between uses. If manufacturer instructions for cleaning and disinfecting protective eyewear is unavailable:
- Perform proper hand hygiene; carefully wipe the inside, followed by the outside of the face shield or goggles using a clean cloth saturated with neutral detergent solution or cleaner wipe.
- Carefully wipe the outside of the protective eyewear with a healthcare grade disinfecting wipe.
- Wipe the outside with clean water or alcohol to remove residue.
- Allow to fully dry by air or use a clean absorbent towels.
- Perform proper hand hygiene.
Remove the eye protection by grasping the side arms and pulling the eye protection forward without touching the front of the eyewear, then perform proper hand hygiene.
Face shields must cover the front and sides of the face to reduce the possibility of splash, spray or respiratory droplets from going around the edges of the shield. Goggles should fit snuggly around the eyes. Safety glasses should fit snugly with no gaps between the glasses and the worker’s face. Ensure that eye protection is compatible with your face mask or covering, so there is not interference with proper wear of the mask or eyewear.
Goggles, face shields, or safety glasses can be used as acceptable eye protection. Goggles provide the most reliable eye protection from splashes, sprays, and respiratory droplets, with a snug fit around the eyes. Face shields must cover the front and sides of the face to reduce the possibility of splash, spray or respiratory droplets from going around the edges of the shield. Safety glasses may be used but they do not provide the same level of protection from splashes, sprays and respiratory droplets as goggles or face shields.
Under the Ministry of Ontario COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open, eye protection has been added as an additional method of personal protective equipment in workplaces (in addition to a mask), during instances where patrons without face coverings are within 2 metres of workers. An example of a setting where this occurs:
Restaurants or Bars: when servers are within 2 metres of patrons who have removed their masks to eat or drink.
Discard eye protection if damaged, difficult to see through, or if parts of the protection becomes visibly soiled or contaminated.
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 to restaurants, bars, tobacconists or speciality vape stores, please contact WECHU at 519-258-2146 ext. 4475.
For inquiries or complaints for all other businesses operating in violation of provincial orders or exceeding indoor or outdoor gathering limits, please contact 311 in the City of Windsor or your municipal bylaw enforcement in the County of Essex.
A face shield should not be worn in place of a face covering at any point in the school day. A face shield should be used as additional personal protective equipment (PPE) in situations which require added protection from respiratory droplets.
For information on authorized medical devices for use related to COVID-19, please visit the Government of Canada’s website.
Yes. Children living in the same household are permitted to share a seat on the bus, as are children in the same cohort. Please refer to Windsor-Essex Student Transportation Services (WESTS), (also known as Buskids) for more information.
Yes. Since both bus drivers and riders are sharing an enclosed space with limited opportunities for adequate ventilation, the Health Unit recommends that all riders not eligible for an exemption and drivers wear a face mask or covering at all times while on board the bus. Please refer to Windsor-Essex Student Transportation Services (WESTS), (also known as Buskids) for more information.
Physical distancing is an important protection measure to prevent exposures to COVID-19. This includes providing as much space as possible between student’s desks or personal spaces, in seating areas such as cafeterias and staff rooms, and for bus waiting lines to ensure physical distancing in shared spaces and lines are in effect. Please refer to your school board’s back to school plans for how your school will be implementing physical distancing measures.
Only students from the same household or within the same cohorts are permitted to share a seat on the bus. Students are to maintain a 2 metre distance between riders from front to back, as well as side to side across the aisles. Please refer to Windsor-Essex Student Transportation Services (WESTS), (also known as Buskids) for more information.
Schools will implement a more frequent cleaning and disinfecting routine according to Ministry and Public Health Ontario’s Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings. The recommendations include developing and reviewing a cleaning program, cleaning and disinfecting high touch surfaces, routine cleaning of outdoor surfaces, and cleaning shared objects between each use.
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has provided consultation and specific guidance to the Windsor-Essex Student Transportation Services (WESTS), (also known as Buskids) to address student transportation requirements related to COVID-19.
A mask should be replaced with a clean mask if soiled, or if it no longer follows the Government of Canada requirements.
Yes. Physical distancing is mandatory while riding the bus, and while waiting to load the bus. It is recommended that parents and students wear a non-medical face mask at bus stops if physical distancing cannot be maintained. Please refer to Windsor-Essex Student Transportation Services (WESTS), (also known as Buskids) for more information.
It is recommended that parents refrain from exiting their vehicle when dropping their children off at school. For parents escorting children to school on bike or walking, it is advised to limit the number of people accompanying each student to one person. Parents should immediately refrain from any social interaction during pick up and drop off between parents or between parents and teachers. Please refer to Windsor-Essex Student Transportation Services (WESTS), (also known as Buskids) as well as your school board for more information.
If a student feels sick while on the bus, or before boarding the bus, they should advise the bus driver right away who will alert dispatch or a teacher for help in informing the students’ parents. Please refer to Windsor-Essex Student Transportation Services (WESTS), (also known as Buskids) for more information.
- All students and staff members must complete a self-screening questionnaire before arriving at school and must stay home if they are experiencing any symptoms. If a student or staff member becomes sick at school, the following will be applied:
- Any objects used by the ill individual that cannot be cleaned and disinfected (i.e. books) should be sealed and stored away for a minimum of 7 days.
- All objects and surfaces touched by the ill student and staff will be cleaned and disinfected immediately once sent home.
- The staff member caring for the ill child waiting to be picked up must wear a surgical mask and eye protection, regardless of physical distancing.
- The ill student will be monitored by a staff member until they are picked up from school.
- Staff must be sent home immediately and be directed to use the COVID-19 School Self-Assessment Tool.
- The ill student / staff member must wear a mask until they have left the premises.
- They will be isolated from others immediately and put in a separate room.
For school specific protocols about this process please contact your school administration.
If a COVID-19 positive case is identified in a school, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit will provide further instructions on who else in the school may need testing and/or monitoring/isolation at that time. Staff/students who are being managed by public health (e.g. confirmed cases of COVID-19, household contacts of cases) should follow instructions provided by the Health Unit to determine when to return to school.
Please refer to the Ministry’s Operation Guidance Document on the management of COVID-19 in schools for more information.
Reasonable exceptions to the requirement to wear masks can be put in place by schools and school boards. Please speak to your school or school board for more information around medical exemptions.
School bus drivers, monitors, and aides will be provided with a screening checklist to self-screen for symptoms, and must not report to work if they have symptoms associated with COVID-19 or if they think they have been exposed to COVID-19. Please refer to Windsor-Essex Student Transportation Services (WESTS), (also known as Buskids) for more information.
Yes. There will be regular cleaning of the school bus interior, with special attention given to highly-touched surfaces, including bus seats, handrails, surfaces within the driver’s cockpit, and windows. Please refer to Windsor-Essex Student Transportation Services (WESTS), (also known as Buskids) for more information.
Students, teachers and school staff need to check for symptoms of illness every day before going to school. They can complete the online COVID-19 School Self-Assessment Tool each morning, or request a paper copy of the tool from your school. As part of the enhanced screening measures, schools will conduct daily on-site confirmation of self-screening for secondary students, staff and visitors before entering school or at the start of the schools day.
If a student or staff is experiencing any symptoms indicated on the screening checklist, then they must stay home and complete the COVID-19 School Self-Assessment Tool to determine if further care is required. Screening signage will be posted at all entry points of the school.
Section 22 Class Order: Isolation
Visit the Government of Canada website to learn more about travel, testing, quarantine, and borders.
The order is in effect until the Medical Officer of Health determines it is no longer required.
Failure to comply with the order is an offence under section 101 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act for which you may be liable, on conviction, to a fine of not more than $5,000.00 (for a person) or not more than $25,000.00 (for a corporation) for every day or part of each day on which the offence occurs or continues.
Under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA), the Medical Officer of Health may issue an order to limit the spread of communicable disease in the community. Actions under a Section 22 Order must be necessary for reducing or removing the risk for spread of communicable diseases and can include individuals or a class of individuals. Class orders apply to groups of persons as defined in the order issued by the medical officer of health.
The following persons or class of persons may be subject to necessary modifications:
- A person or class of persons who, in the opinion of WindsorEssex County Health Unit is asymptomatic and provides an essential service, for the limited purpose of providing that essential service;
- A person receiving essential medical services or treatments, whether or not related to COVID19; or
- Where a person’s isolation, in the opinion of WindsorEssex County Health Unit, would not be in the public interest.
The class order was issued in order to contain the spread of COVID-19 and prevent widespread community transmission in the region of Windsor-Essex.
While most individuals experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or who are infected with COVID-19, as well as their close contacts, have followed self-isolation instructions, very few do not follow the necessary measures. This class order can help ensure that individuals comply with self-isolation instructions in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Statistics and Case Counts
Unknown refers to cases still pending in an investigation and/or data that is not known about a case.
Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs)
- The employer must house self-isolating workers in accommodations that are separate from those not subject to self-isolation. Review the Self-Isolation Plan Checklist  for more information.
- Workers can be housed together, but it must enable them to maintain a physical distance of 2 metres apart (e.g., beds need to be at least 2 meters apart).
- Shared facilities (e.g., bathroom, kitchen, living space) are allowed, but must have sufficient space to allow workers to follow self distance requirements.
- Each housing unit must adhere to a daily cleaning and disinfecting schedule. Use the Daily Cleaning Log to ensure that all areas are undergoing regular cleaning.
- For the duration of the self-isolation period, the employer must ensure that the accommodation does not prevent the worker from avoiding contact with older adults (65+) and those with medical conditions who are at risk of developing serious illness
- If new workers are housed for self-isolation in the same accommodation as others who are self-isolating, the clock resets to the day the most recent worker arrived.
- It is recommended that date-stamped photos be taken of the facilities to demonstrate compliance and sent to their Public Health Inspector upon request.
- Informational posters should be provided and displayed in the accommodation common areas (e.g. kitchen, living room, and bathrooms) about proper hand hygiene and cough and sneeze etiquette. Provide these resources in the workers preferred language.
Daily health checks should take place for all workers. Use the Daily Health Check Log  to keep track of each worker’s health status.
Just like all Canadians, the employer is asked to report any violation to the Quarantine Act on the part of a self-isolating worker to local law enforcement.
All owners/operators of agricultural farms in Windsor-Essex County who:
a. Employ migrant farm workers in any capacity.
b. Participate in the federal Temporary Foreign Worker program (TFW).
c. Operate any model of seasonal housing accommodations
must comply with the Class Order dated October 6, 2020 by Dr. Wajid Ahmed, Medical Officer of Health of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. This order requires several safety protocols related to the work environment, screening protocols, measures to facilitate contact tracing and ensure effective communication with workers, and requirements for isolation.
The full list of responsibilities and actions can be seen in the Class Order.
In addition to the requirements in the Order, all newly arriving TFWs who enter Canada by air or land must have their health checked and must isolate for 14 days upon arrival in Canada. The 14-day isolation period is mandatory even if workers show no symptoms and workers are not to be performing any work duties during this time other than cleaning and disinfecting of their accommodations.
All non-essential employee travel and non-essential visitors including suppliers and vendors should be stopped until further notice. Post signage at the farm entrance to discourage unexpected visitors from entering the property.
Develop a Self Isolation Plan and an Emergency Response Plan
Develop a self isolation plan and an emergency response plan to manage your workforce and enable employees to self-isolate  should someone exhibit symptoms or test positive for COVID-19. Due to the number of individuals who typically reside in seasonal housing accommodations, please note that this may require owners/operators to provide alternative housing arrangements for ill employees. Ensure that medical care is available to all employees if needed.
Adhere to Infection Prevention and Control Best Practices
The employer must ensure that workers have access to facilities that allow them to wash their hands often with soap and warm water, providing soap, and providing an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly soiled.
The employer should also ensure that enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols are being implemented in living quarters, work areas, and other common areas immediately:
- Clean all surfaces using commercially purchased multi-surface household cleaners.
- If using a disinfectant, only use those which have a Drug Identification Number (DIN). A DIN is an 8-digit number given by Health Canada that confirms it is approved for use in Canada.
- Check the expiry date of cleaning products before using them and always follow manufacturer’s instructions.
- Frequently touched surfaces are more likely to be contaminated. Surfaces that have frequent contact with hands should be cleaned and disinfected twice per day and when visibly dirty. Examples of frequently touched surfaces include doorknobs, light switches, toilet handles, sink tap handles, bedside tables, counters, tables, chairs, hand rails, buffet utensils, touch screen surfaces, TV or radio remotes, and keypads.
- Food within seasonal housing accommodations should be protected from contamination at all times. This may include safe distancing or ensuring guards or coverings for food, and utensils.
- Ensure all hand wash sinks are supplied with soap and paper towels.
- Provide computer access to allow for online shopping and delivery, including medication delivery.
- Provide grocery/meal delivery options, Click-and-Collect, etc.
- Arrange for online banking options to complete international money transfers. Ensure computer access to employees to facilitate this. Develop a schedule to prevent large groups attempting to use the computer at the same time.
- Encouraging the use of Telehealth, Ontario Telemedicine Network OTN  and online and phone health services if needed.
- Encourage employees to designate shoppers who can collect supplies for several workers or coordinate the shopping for everyone.
- Inform workers of the potential that law enforcement officers may take steps to disperse groups of individuals including workers in public spaces.
Encourage your workforce to download the HUB Connect App for ongoing updates and select Ontario if their region is not listed.
The employer must regularly monitor the health of workers who are self-isolating, as well as any employee who becomes ill after the self-isolation period.
- During the self-isolation period, the employer must communicate with workers daily by call, text, e-mail, or in-person (if no other option is available, while maintaining a 2-meter physical distance), and ask if he/she is experiencing any symptoms. A record of responses should be maintained. Use the Daily Health Check Log to keep track of each worker’s health status.
- If a worker develops symptoms at any point, the employer must immediately arrange for the worker to be fully isolate from others and call the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (519) 258 – 2146
Employers should implement passive and active screening measures at the farm.
Passive screening involves posting up signage around the farm and living areas related to COVID-19. Signs should be:
- Clear, visible and in multiple languages if necessary
- Should have information about signs and symptoms of COVID-19, hand hygiene, and cough and sneeze etiquette.
Active screening involves setting up a screening station/table with a staff member who will verbally ask workers about any signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and provide guidance if there are any reported illnesses. Screening activities should be focused on TFWs and should be done on a regular basis throughout the day.
- Symptomatic workers should be instructed to immediately isolate themselves.
- Workers and the employer should use the online self-assessment tool for instructions on seeking further care.
- Active screening stations must be set up in a way that ensure a minimum 2 metre distance is maintained between workers and the screener.
- Hand sanitizer should be available at the screening table.
Read the Ministry of Ontario guidance document for further details on setting up an active screening station.
Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) Vaccine
Yes, you can continue to eat and drink as normal before and after your vaccine.
Yes, once you have completed the required 15-30 minutes of observation after your vaccine AND you have been cleared to return to the transportation vehicle, you can resume your normal activities.
Yes, you can shower as normal before and after your vaccine.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding you can receive the vaccine ONLY if you have written permission from a doctor or nurse practitioner. This written permission must be brought with you to the clinic and given to the nurse to review.
The Moderna vaccine is only approved for use in Canada for individuals 18 years of age and over.
For safety reasons, the needle is specially designed to retract into a shield after the vaccine dose has been given. No part of the needle is left in your arm.
Testing at an assessment centre is available by appointment only.
To find out if you are eligible for testing and testing locations visit Getting Tested.
Please note that low risk, asymptomatic individuals should not be considered for testing at an assessment centre. Eligible asymptomatic individuals may have other options for testing – see Additional Testing Locations.
Yes. Individuals who are eligible for testing at an assessment centre or participating pharmacy are required to schedule an appointment for testing. Visit the Government of Ontario website for testing requirements and locations.
Travellers should consult their travel carrier’s guidelines to ensure they have the most up-to-date information about requirements and they should refer to the federal government’s travel website for up-to-date expectations and requirements related to their destination. If a COVID-19 test is required, it is important to ensure ample time for testing and to receive results.
To find local options offering testing for international travel, see Additional Testing Locations.
At this time, those that test positive for COVID-19 are not retested to ensure they are negative unless you are a healthcare worker. After a positive test result, they remain in communication with public health nurses until they are symptom free. After their required isolation period and at least 24 hours symptom-free, they are able to go outside for essential trips.
Learn how long you should self-isolate for on our Have COVID-19 or Been Exposed page.
There is currently no drive through testing available in the Windsor-Essex Region.
Currently it may take several days to get the results of your COVID-19 test. The WECHU will contact all those who test positive to conduct contact tracing. Learn how to check your results by visiting Check Your Results.
Travel Restrictions and Guidance
Some persons are not subject to the mandatory quarantine requirement when entering Canada. Exemptions will be validated for each entry into Canada. This does not apply to anyone who has signs and symptoms of COVID-19. If you have signs and symptoms of COVID-19, you must disclose this information and isolate for 14 days. In addition, exemptions exist for fully vaccinated travellers who meet specific conditions.
If you are an individual who is exempt (i.e. healthcare worker who commutes across the border), you must wear a non-medical mask or face covering when physical distancing cannot be maintained or while in public settings, continually monitor your health for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and respect the public health guidance and instructions of the area where you are travelling to.
If while in quarantine, you develop a fever and cough or fever and difficulty breathing, test positive for COVID-19, or if you are exposed to another person who is required to isolate or is exhibiting signs and symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19, the 14-day quarantine would be extended for 14 days from when you developed symptoms.
Please review the Government of Canada webpage COVID-19: Travel, testing, quarantine and borders for quarantine requirements.
Please note that Canadian citizens and permanent residents are advised to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Individuals who are required to quarantine cannot end their 14 day quarantine early even if they’ve been tested for COVID-19 and have received negative test results. This 14 day quarantine period is to limit any potential transmission of travel acquired COVID-19. When someone is exposed to COVID-19, symptoms can develop at any time during the 14 day incubation period. Anyone who is within their 14 day quarantine period and develops symptoms should immediately isolate from others and contact their local Public Health Authority (Windsor-Essex County Health Unit - 519-258-2146).
At this time, Dr. Ahmed, the Medical Officer of Health, does not recommend non-essential travel outside of Windsor and Essex County. If you’re planning on travelling within Canada, verify restrictions and exemptions by visiting the Government of Canada website.
If you are travelling by air and develop symptoms – tell your flight attendant or border services officer immediately. For land/marine travellers who develop symptoms– stop your travels if possible, and seek medical attention.
If you develop symptoms, immediately isolate yourself from others and contact your local public health authority (Windsor-Essex County Health Unit - 519-258-2146). If your symptoms worsen during quarantine, contact your local public health authority. If you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 and make sure you notify the dispatcher that you have COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19. Please note that the Government of Canada and provincial/territorial officials may contact you during your period of isolation.
Travellers are required to provide information digitally when returning to Canada. ArriveCAN is a free mobile app that allows all travellers entering Canada to submit mandatory information quickly and securely. ArriveCAN is available for download on Apple iOS and Google Play and is available in English, French and Spanish. The ArriveCAN improves information sharing with the Provinces, Territories and Police of Jurisdiction to support public health and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Travellers can also submit their information by signing in online at Canada.ca/ArriveCAN.
Canadian citizens, dual Canadian citizens, permanent residents of Canada, persons registered under Canada’s Indian Act, and protected persons can travel to and enter Canada. Please visit the Government of Canada website to learn more about who can enter Canada.
Foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, can travel to Canada only if they’re eligible. Learn about the steps to get approval for compassionate entry on the Government of Canada website. In addition, there are travel restriction exemptions for non-Canadians including exemptions for family reunification, international students, and foreign workers.
For travel restrictions, exemptions and advice, visit the Government of Canada website.
Working in the United States
Please visit the Pandemic Status page to find out more about the local and pandemic travel restrictions. Visit the Government of Canada website to find out more about international travel, testing, quarantine, and border restrictions.
You may be exempt from mandatory quarantine requirements under certain conditions. Please visit the Government of Canada website for more information.
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.
Visit the Government of Canada website to find out more about international travel, testing, quarantine, and border restrictions.
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.
Workplaces must screen any workers or essential visitors entering the work environment. See the COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces for more information. Some businesses or organizations must screen patrons, depending on the current level of public health measures. See our Fact Sheets for Specific Businesses and Organization to learn more, including screening and signage advice for specific sectors.
Your employer will put in policies and procedures to limit exposure in the workplace. Employers with employees recently returning from travel should follow public health guidance and make the following considerations:
- Non-essential travel outside of Canada should be avoided and all returning travelers are required to self-isolate for 14 days under the Quarantine Act. Individuals who are self-isolating should NOT go to work.
- At any time during self-isolation if symptoms develop residents should contact their healthcare provider or the WECHU at 519-258-2146 to determine next steps.
- If individuals have had contact or potential contact with a case of COVID-19, they should contact their primary care provider or the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit at 519-258-2146 for information.
Please refer to the Ministry of Labour for any further questions related to workplace practices.
The health unit does not issue return to work letters related to COVID-19 or any other illness. Please note that the Ontario government made changes to the Employment Standards Act and as a result employees do not need to provide a medical note if they need to be off work for illness. For more information, visit the Government of Ontario website.
We encourage that employers follow Health Canada guideline for Hard-surface disinfectants for use against coronavirus (COVID-19) to ensure that your workplace is kept clean and safe for clients and employees. For surfaces that are frequently touched such as door handles, knobs, railings, taps, light switches and telephones, Health Canada recommends cleaning with approved agents like regular household cleaners and diluted household bleach. We advise that employers ensure that staff responsible for cleaning, use disinfectants with a Drug Identification Number (DIN), an 8-digit number located on the package, as its indicative that the agent has been approved by Health Canada to be effective against COVID-19.
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.
Regardless of the level, all businesses and workplaces are required to prepare a safety plan and have it available in writing for review, upon request by the health unit. Learn more by visiting our COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan Requirements page.
Due to confidentiality concerns, the health unit will not be contacting workplaces to discuss individual cases however, individuals may be contacted as a part of the contract tracing process. Individuals should inform their employer of their test results so that proper health and safety measures can be put in place. For more information, visit the ‘Managing COVID-19 in the Workplace’ webpage.
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.
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.
Employers are legally obligated by the Ontario Human Rights Code to accommodate all employees to the point of undue hardship. If an employee discloses a medical condition that may make him/her vulnerable to COVID-19, we recommend that the employer examines the task to assess risks of exposure while executing the activity. The Public Health Agency of Canada has created a list of vulnerable populations at risk of COVID-19. If you find that the risk of exposure is high, consider way to reduce it by modifying tasks and implementing appropriate policies, plans and procedures to protect all employees. When creating a risk mitigation plan, should follow the health and safety hierarchy of control. It is important for employers to actively engage with their employees to discuss strategies to reduce their risk exposure, as they may able to recommend practical solutions.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission identifies the type of information that accommodation seekers may generally be expected to provide to support an accommodation includes:
- that the person has a disability
- the limitations or needs associated with the disability
- whether the person can perform the essential duties or requirements of the job, of being a tenant, or of being a service user, with or without accommodation
- the type of accommodation(s) that may be needed to allow the person to fulfill the essential duties or requirements of the job
- in employment, regular updates about when the person expects to come back to work, if they are on leave.
- The employer should work with the employee with COVID-19 to identify if others may have been exposed at the workplace while the person was contagious. Find out more.
- The employer notifies employees, who were considered to have been close contacts, to self-isolate, and instruct lower risk contacts to self-monitor for 14 days from their last exposure to the case. This should be done while maintaining confidentiality of all affected employees.
- If a person with COVID-19 discloses illness to the employer, but others at the workplace have not been exposed (e.g. staff was not present while contagious), then further contact tracing would not be needed at the workplace. For more information about best practices for handling positive cases in the workplace and reporting guidelines, visit the ‘Managing COVID-19 in the Workplace’ webpage.
- WECHU obtains consent from the employee before disclosing personal health information to the employer.
- WECHU will request a list of the names and contact information of staff and, if applicable, patrons/clients, who may have been exposed.
- The WECHU will use this information to notify and provide instructions for close contacts to self-isolate or self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.
- Personal information collected for COVID-19 contract tracing may only be used for that purpose. Employers should only keep records for 30 days and then shred.
- A public notification is generally not required unless persons who may have been exposed while at the workplace cannot be identified or contacted in a timely manner.
You may be considered a “close contact” if there was a high-risk exposure to a person who tested positive for COVID-19. For a more detailed list of high-risk exposures, how to determine if someone was a close contact, and what to do if you may have been exposed, visit WECHU’s ‘Have COVID-19 or have been exposed?’ page or the ‘Managing COVID-19 in the Workplace’ webpage.
A lower risk contact occurs when a person may have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, however, the contact is unlikely to result in transmission. For a more detailed list of low risk exposures, visit WECHU’s ‘Have COVID-19 or have been exposed?’ page or the Ministry of Health’s Management of Cases and Contacts of COVID-19 in Ontario guidance.
Public Health Ontario advises that most personal protective equipment (PPE) is designed for single use. If reuse is considered, it should not occur without adequate disinfection processes.
Please speak to your employer or health and safety representative. If you have concerns, please follow up with the Ministry of Labour.
Downloadable signs and posters are available for printing on the Resource & Signage webpage.
Visit the ‘How to Stop the Spread’ webpage for more information about self-monitoring for symptoms and self-isolating.
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 Government of Ontario, 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.