Additional COVID-19 Guidance For Restaurants, Bars and Food and Drink Establishments
Speak with your area Public Health Inspector if you have any questions, or call our helpline at 519-258-2146 ext. 4475.
*This information is subject to change and is current as of April 8, 2021
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For information about acceptable types of eye protection, please review our Eye Protection fact sheet.
The following guidance is intended to help with clarification of general public health measures as mandated in Ontario Regulation 263/20 Rules for Areas in Stage 2 and described in the COVID-19 Response Framework for restaurants, bars, and food and drink establishments.
Owners and operators of restaurants, bars, and food and drink establishments must ensure that all required COVID-19 public health measures are in place to keep staff and visitors safe, while also ensuring compliance with the requirements of Ontario Regulation 493/17: Food Premises, and other applicable legislation, including the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Visit WECHU’s Local Pandemic Status page for updates on Windsor-Essex’s status level, links to Ministry of Ontario guidance, and a summary of provincial requirements AND local enhanced measures.
COVID-19 Response Framework Measures
COVID-19 Response Framework Measures
- The total number of patrons permitted to be seated indoors must be limited to maintain a minimum physical distance of two metres between each person in the establishment be, and in any event must not exceed the lesser of 50 patrons or 50% capacity.
- Capacity is determined by taking the total square metres of the indoor dining area accessible to the public in the establishment, dividing that number by 2, and rounding the result down to the nearest whole number.
- Outdoor dining capacity should be limited to allow physical distancing of 2 metres to be maintained.
- If an outdoor dining area at the establishment is covered by a roof, canopy, tent, awning or other element, at least two full sides of the entire outdoor dining area must be open to the outdoors and must not be substantially blocked by any walls or other impermeable physical barriers.
- If an outdoor dining area at the establishment is equipped with a retractable roof and the roof is retracted, at least one full side of the outdoor dining area must be open to the outdoors and must not be substantially blocked by any walls or other impermeable physical barriers.
- Establishments are required to post a sign in a location visible to the public. The sign should state the maximum capacity (i.e., number of patrons) they are permitted to operate under. Download and print WECHU’s ‘Max Capacity Sign’ and post in your establishment.
- Indoor and outdoor dining permitted, with restrictions
- Take out, drive through, and delivery are also permitted, including alcohol.
Seating & Dining Requirements
- All people who are seated together at a table in the establishment must be members of the same household, a member of one other household who lives alone, or a caregiver for any member of either household
- Require patrons to be seated at all times, unless they must leave the table to order, pay, use the washroom, enter and exit the premises, and where necessary for health and safety reasons. Whenever a patron leaves their seating area, they must maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from other groups and properly wear a face covering.
- Seating must allow for a 2m minimum between tables or have an impermeable barrier (e.g. Plexiglas) installed between tables
- Line-ups/patrons congregating outside venues managed by venue; 2m distance and face covering required
- Contact information is required for all seated patrons. Patrons temporarily entering the area to place, pick up, or pay for a takeout order are exempt
- No person shall dance, sing, or perform music at the establishment, including karaoke
- Limit volume of music (e.g., to be no louder than the volume of a normal conversation)
- No buffet style service
- Face coverings except when eating or drinking only
- Eye protection must be worn by workers whenever they are within 2 metres of patrons without face coverings (i.e., when they are eating or drinking)
Operating Hours & Service Restrictions
- Limit operating hours, establishments must close from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., except to allow take-out, delivery, drive-thru, dine-in service only for persons performing work for the establishment, or to provide access to washrooms
- Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- No consumption of liquor permitted between 10 p.m. to 9 a.m.
- Night clubs and strip clubs only permitted to operate as restaurant or bar
Screening and Safety Plan Requirements
- Require active screening of all patrons (e.g. questionnaire)
- Safety plan available upon request
Windsor-Essex County Health Unit – Specific Enhanced Measures
Managing & Reporting COVID-19 Outbreaks in the Workplace
The Managing COVID-19 in the Workplace: Guidance for Employers, Owners, and Operators provides guidance for businesses and workplaces to appropriately manage employees who have either tested positive for COVID-19, been identified as a close contact of a confirmed positive case of COVID-19, or experiencing symptoms without any known exposure to COVID-19.
Reporting Workplace Outbreaks
The ‘Reporting Workplace Outbreaks to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit: Guidance for Employers, Business Owners, & Operators’ provides information for employers to understand their roles in a suspected workplace outbreak, their responsibility to notify the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) about COVID-19 cases in the workplace, and how workplace outbreak information will be disclosed to the public.
Return to Work Timelines
The COVID-19 Decision Guide for Workplaces provides details on return to work guidelines for employees based on their level of exposure to COVID-19 (i.e., high or low risk contact), the results of their COVID-19 test, and the severity of symptoms from COVID-19. For additional information, you may also review the Government of Ontario’s COVID-19 self-isolation and return to work webpage.
COVID-19 Safety Plan
Non-Medical Face Masks, Face Coverings, and Eye Protection
Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open mandates the wearing of face coverings in indoor public places and workplaces. Municipalities and organizations have created further regulations through the development of face-covering policies. Several local municipalities have included further spaces where masks are required by passing by-laws.
- Non-medical masks or face coverings should also be worn in other situations (for example, outdoors) when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
- In addition to wearing a non-medical face 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, and/or
- In an indoor area and are not separated by plexiglass or some other impermeable barriers.
- Train staff on the proper use, removal and disposal of non-medical masks.
- Face Coverings and Face Masks (Government of Ontario)
- WECHU How to Safely Wear a Mask (multiple languages)
- How to Safely Use a Non-Medical Mask or Face Covering (Public Health Agency of Canada)
- Non-medical masks do not replace other important public health measures, such as physical distancing, proper hand hygiene, coughing and sneezing into a tissue or sleeve and staying home when feeling ill.
- More information about face coverings and eye protection is available by visiting the Face Coverings & Eye Protection webpage.
Signage and Screening
Every patron/customer/staff member that enters the facility/workplace must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors. There are two different types of screening:
- Passive screening: people assess their own risk factors and make the decision themselves. Post clear signage at all entrances with screening questions and instructions. If active screening of patrons entering a facility is not possible (for example, public transit, grocery stores), post signage instructing people with symptoms not to enter. Note: for retail stores, screening is only required at entrance to shopping malls, and not individual stores.
- Active screening: an employer ensures that the information is collected and reviewed to determine whether a person may enter the workplace. Actively screen staff using the COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces. This includes workers, volunteers, suppliers, and contractors.
- Post signage at entrances and throughout the building that clearly communicate procedures for physical distancing between staff and customers. This include posters and floor markings such as instructional tape/stickers that direct the flow of people or customers waiting for services, including any outdoor waiting areas. Examples of signage can be found in the Resources & Signage section of the WECHU website.
- Post signage to communicate entry procedures such as hand sanitizing, sneeze and cough etiquette, wearing of cloth masks, and/or screening for symptoms.
- Ensure employees are aware of common COVID-19 symptoms and in addition to active screening upon arrival, instruct them to complete a daily provincial screening tool for workplaces before reporting to work.
- Provide training to employees on effective hand hygiene practices and if required, the proper way to put on and remove PPE such as masks, face shields, gowns, and gloves.
General Cleaning and Disinfecting
- Ensure there is always sufficient supply of approved disinfecting solution or wipes, and an alcohol-based hand rub (hand sanitizer) with a minimum of 60% alcohol content, liquid hand soap, and paper towels. These should be easily accessible to employees.
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces such as tables, chairs, bar top, stools, restrooms, light switches, payment hardware, POS terminals, the host stand, bar, kitchen surfaces and tools, condiment bottles, menus, and all other items after every use, when visibly dirty, or and between uses.
- Do not pre-set tables; utensils should be rolled or packaged.
- Use single-use paper menus, electronic menus, menu-boards, or chalkboards, instead of regular menus.
- Avoid shared table items (for example, condiment bottles and salt and pepper shakers). Consider using single-serve versions.
- Encourage the use of contactless payments whenever possible. If handling cash, use alcohol-based hand rub after each transaction and avoid touching your face.
Indoor and Outdoor Dining Areas
For areas in the Red- Control Level, there is a maximum of 4 patrons permitted per table.
Collecting Contact Information from Customers Dining on Premises
As per provincial regulations, the person responsible for the establishment must:
- For areas in the Yellow, Orange and Red level, contact information is required from every patron.
- Use this Food Premises Contact Tracing Form for record keeping in your establishment.
- Maintain the records for a period of at least one month (30 days).
- Only disclose the records to a Medical Officer of Health or an Inspector under the Health Protection and Promotion Act on request for a purpose specified in section 2 of that Act or as otherwise required by law.
Indoor Dining Areas
Ideally, there is a minimum of 2 metres of physical distancing between patrons and employees at all times. Where this is a challenge, a see-through and cleanable barrier, such as Plexiglas, can help reduce the spread of respiratory droplets. When installing barriers, ensure that they are large enough to protect for the tallest employee or customer and extend past the width of an area that a person is likely to use.
Install barriers (e.g. Plexiglas) at check-outs and/or between workers who must work less than 2 metres apart.
Install barriers (e.g. Plexiglas) in areas where customers must come within 2 metres of employees (such as at check-in area or check-out areas) or within 2 metres of people from other groups (such as in dining areas).
- For barriers in areas where people are standing, ensure the top of the barrier is 15 cm above the top of the head of the tallest patron or employee, which would be at least 2 metres (79 inches) from the ground.
- For barriers in areas where people are sitting, ensure the top of the barrier is 15 cm above the top of the head of the tallest seated patron or employee, which would be at least 1.46 metres (58 inches) from the ground.
Outdoor Dining Areas
- If an outdoor dining area is covered by a roof, canopy, tent, awning, or other element, at least two full sides of the outdoor dining area must be open to the outdoors and must not be substantially blocked by any walls or other impermeable physical barriers.
- If the outdoor dining area is equipped with a retractable roof, the roof must be fully retracted and at least one full side of the outdoor dining area must be open to the outdoors and must not be substantially blocked by any walls or other impermeable physical barriers.
- Patio coverings, sails, canopies, tents, should be as high as possible – recommended at least 3 meters in height to allow for proper air flow. Umbrellas are highly recommended for sun shade.
- All business owners are to ensure that patio structures and coverings meet local fire, building and zoning requirements before installation. Fully covered and enclosed spaces are not considered outdoor dining areas. They do not allow for adequate airflow and could increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission. All tents and canopies are required to meet minimum clearance distances from the building and commercial NFPA certifications for flame resistant material. Please contact your local fire and building departments for more details before installing any patio coverings, tents, canopies, or awnings on your patio.
Dancing and Singing
Dancing or singing and the live performance is not permitted in any establishment in Red-Control.
- Government of Ontario
- Ministry of Health
- Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development
- Workplace Safety & Prevention Services