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COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

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This page includes answers to frequently asked COVID-19 questions for organizations and businesses, including province-wide Roadmap to Reopening, self-isolation and masking requirements.

For questions related to COVID-19 vaccines, including proof of vaccination requirements, please visit the COVID-19 Vaccines Frequently Asked Questions webpage.

FAQs for Organizations and Businesses

On October 22, 2021, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, released A Plan to Safely Reopen Ontario and Manage COVID-19 for the Long-Term (external link).

This plan outlines the province’s approach to lifting the remaining public health and workplace safety measures by March 2022. The plan will be guided by the ongoing assessment of key public health and health care indicators and supported by local or regional tailored responses to COVID-19.

Halton Region’s Medical Officer of Health issued amended Instructions to businesses and organizations to help keep staff and customers safe. The Instructions take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, September 10, 2021. They consolidate key existing requirements from the Province and Halton Region Public Health, with some new requirements. Key components include:

  • health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19;
  • guidance for workplaces if workers test positive for COVID-19; and
  • businesses and organizations with 100 or more workers physically present at the workplace must establish both a safety plan and a vaccination policy.

The amended instructions replace the two existing sets of instructions for retail businesses and indoor shopping malls. Read the letter from Dr. Meghani to all retail business owners (PDF file).

Businesses and organizations that are open must ensure that workplaces are safe for workers.

Please refer to Dr. Meghani’s amended instructions to businesses and organization (PDF file) and to Halton’s COVID-19 Resources for Businesses page for more information about workplace measures to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

According to the amended Instructions for businesses/organizations (PDF file), all workplaces must ensure that every worker is actively screened before they enter the premises. Records of this information must be kept for at least one month. In the event of an outbreak, Halton Region Public Health will need to be provided with these records within two hours of a request. Records must be stored and destroyed in a secure manner.

Active and passive screening requirements for customers may vary across sectors. Sector-specific requirements can be found in the Halton Region Public Health guidance section.

All workplaces listed in Schedule 1 of the Rules for Areas at Step 3 and at Roadmap Exit Step (external link) must record the name and contact information of every customer who enters the workplace, unless the customer is entering temporarily to place, pay, or pick-up an order.

Some workplaces are newly subject to contact tracing requirements. These are listed in the amended Instructions for businesses/organizations (PDF file) and are as follows:

  • personal care services relating to the hair or body, including hair salons and barber shops, manicure and pedicure salons, aesthetician services, piercing services, tanning salons, spas and tattoo studios;
  • photography studios and services (for services provided indoors); and
  • concert venues, theatres and cinemas.

The required contact tracing information for these workplaces includes the customer’s:

  • first and last name;
  • municipality of residence;
  • email address and telephone number; and
  • attendance details including date, arrival/departure time, and table number or location (if applicable).

Records of this information must be kept for at least one month so that it can be provided to Halton Region Public Health within two hours of a request. Records must be stored and destroyed in a secure manner.

In addition to the requirements listed for all workplaces in the amended Instructions for businesses/organizations (PDF file), those with 100 or more workers physically present at the workplace (including those working in the community) must:

  1. Establish, implement and ensure compliance with a COVID-19 safety plan. This safety plan must:
    1. describe the measures and procedures which have been implemented or will be implemented in the workplace to reduce the transmission risk of COVID-19. This may include screening, masks and eye protection, and the wearing of other PPE;
    2. be in writing and made available to anyone for review on request; and
    3. be posted in a noticeable place where it is most likely to come to the attention of people working in, or visiting the workplace.
    The Province has provided a guide to help you develop your safety plan (external link).
  2. Establish, implement and ensure compliance with a COVID-19 workplace vaccination policy in accordance with the Halton Region Recommendations for Establishing a Workplace Vaccination Policy (PDF file). This policy should be in place no later than September 22, 2021, with steps to ensure full implementation and compliance to follow as soon as possible. For more information on what should be included in your vaccination policy, visit COVID-19 Resources for Businesses.

Workplaces with less than 100 workers physically present are encouraged to implement a COVID-19 safety plan and COVID-19 workplace vaccination policy, although it is not mandatory.

Employers have an obligation to maintain a safe work environment for their workers.

The Province has made COVID-19 vaccination policies mandatory in certain high-risk settings (external link), for example, long term care homes, hospitals and others.

Halton Region’s amended Instructions for businesses/organizations (PDF file) require businesses and organizations with 100 or more workers physical present at the workplace to establish, implement and ensure compliance with a COVID-19 workplace vaccination policy. Businesses with fewer than 100 workers physically present are encouraged to do the same. Workplace vaccination policies should be in place by September 22, 2021.

See Dr. Hamidah Meghani’s recommendations for establishing a COVID-19 workplace vaccination policy for guidance with developing your policy (PDF file).

For more information, please visit the “Vaccination Information for Employers” section on the COVID-19 Resources for Businesses page.

Whether a person needs to be vaccinated to enter an indoor sports or recreational fitness facility will depend on the reason they are entering the facility and their age.

Halton Region’s Medical Officer of Health has issued a letter of instructions to sports and recreational fitness facilities (PDF file) for Organized Sports and Recreational Fitness Activities. This letter requires all such facilities with indoor areas used for Organized Sports and Recreational Fitness Activities to implement a COVID-19 vaccination policy that requires every person 12 years and older to provide identification and proof of vaccination or a valid medical exemption before entering an indoor area of the facility for the purpose of:

  1. actively participating in one or more Organized Sports and Recreational Fitness Activities; or
  2. coaching, training, instructing, officiating or having similar involvement in Organized Sports and Recreational Fitness Activities.

On November 2, Halton’s MOH amended the letter of instructions to indoor sports and recreational fitness facilities to add a grace period of 12 weeks for children turning 12 years old to provide a reasonable opportunity for their vaccination to be completed. For more information read Halton’s November 2 media release.

Organized Sports and Recreational Fitness Activities include (but are not limited to) extracurricular sports and recreational fitness activities, sports leagues, organized pick-up sports, dance classes, gymnastics, martial arts, swimming classes and all related training, practices, games and competitions.

These policies will help to protect the health of all participants, coaches, officials, volunteers, spectators and others – including people with weaker immune systems or who cannot be vaccinated for COVID-19 because of their age or for medical reasons. These policies will benefit all participants by helping to prevent interruptions and disruptions caused by outbreaks.

As part of Step 3 of the province’s Roadmap to Reopen (external link) (O. Reg. 364/20 (external link)), identification and proof of vaccination are required for all persons 12 years and older entering indoor sports and recreational fitness facilities including gyms, sporting events with spectators, facilities used for personal physical fitness training and waterparks. There are some exemptions (see the Province’s Proof of COVID-19 vaccination website for more information (external link)), but the provincial exemption for active participants (including coaches, trainers, instructors, officials etc.) will not be available in Halton Region effective November 26, 2021 given the Medical Officer of Health’s instruction dated October 19, 2021.

Vaccination against COVID-19 for all those eligible is a crucial strategy for reducing the transmission of COVID-19.

Businesses and organizations can implement the letter of instruction as soon as possible, and we encourage them to do so, but they must comply no later than November 26, 2021. The November 26 deadline has been chosen to allow businesses and organizations adequate time to develop and implement their policies, and for all those involved in these sports and activities to be fully vaccinated (if they are not already). By definition, to be considered fully vaccinated an individual requires two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine taken 3 to 4 weeks apart plus an additional 14 days after the last dose.

Regional Mask by-law FAQs

On July 15, 2020, Halton Regional Council passed Consolidated Mask By-Law 47-20 (PDF file), making it mandatory to wear a mask in certain enclosed public places. On November 24, 2021, Halton Regional Council approved an extension of the by-law until April 30, 2022. Some individuals may be exempt from the by-law.

The by-law applies to certain indoor public places, including, but not limited to:

  • premises (or any part of premises) used as places of business for the sale of goods or services;
  • churches, mosques, synagogues, temples or other places of worship;
  • community centres including indoor recreational facilities;
  • libraries, art galleries, museums, aquariums, zoos and other similar facilities;
  • community service agencies providing services to the public, including municipal administrative buildings;
  • banquet halls, convention centres, arenas, stadiums and other event spaces;
  • premises utilized as an open house, presentation centre, or other facility for real estate purposes;
  • common areas of hotels, motels and other short-term rentals, such as lobbies, elevators, meeting rooms or other common use facilities;
  • concert venues, theatres, cinemas, casinos and other entertainment facilities;
  • public transportation and private transportation services (such as taxis, private limousine services, Uber, Lyft and other similar ride programs); and
  • enclosed common areas of an apartment or condominium building, including the lobby elevator, laundry room and mailrooms.

The City of Burlington and Halton Region’s by-laws are also the same. When in Burlington, follow the Burlington By-law.

Consolidated Mask By-law No. 47-20 (PDF file) does not require individuals to wear a mask outdoors. However, Halton Region’s Medical Officer of Health encourages all individuals to wear a mask in situations where physical distancing is a challenge, including crowded outdoor spaces.

Wearing only a face shield does not meet the requirements of the Regional mask by-law as it does not filter respiratory droplets. Respiratory droplets can either enter or escape around the shield.

A face shield may be used in addition to wearing a mask.

Owners/operators of public places are required to:

  • Create a mask policy (PDF file) for the establishment.
  • Communicate the mask policy to employees, customers and patrons and have it readily available.
  • Train staff on the Consolidated Mask By-law (PDF file) and your policy, including applicable exemptions.
  • Ensure that all employees, volunteers or patrons wear a mask indoors, unless exempt.
  • Post signage at all entrances and other high visibility areas. Download and print the mandatory mask or face covering poster (PDF file) or create a sign containing the following text:
    • ALL PERSONS ENTERING OR REMAINING IN THESE PREMISES SHALL WEAR A NON-MEDICAL MASK OR FACE COVERING WHICH COVERS THEIR NOSE, MOUTH AND CHIN AS REQUIRED UNDER THE REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF HALTON BY-LAW 47-20.
    • THE FOLLOWING PERSONS SHALL BE EXEMPT FROM THE REQUIREMENT TO WEAR A NON-MEDICAL MASK / FACE COVERING IN ENCLOSED PUBLIC PLACES WITHIN HALTON REGION:
      1. the person has an underlying medical condition where wearing a Mask or Face Covering would inhibit the person’s ability to breathe in any way;
      2. the person may experience a negative impact to their emotional well-being or mental health;
      3. the person has a developmental disability which inhibits their ability to wear a mask or face covering;
      4. the person has a disability whereby the wearing of a mask or face covering would limit their ability to reasonably communicate with others or otherwise present a hardship for a person or persons assisting the individual;
      5. the person is unable to place or remove a Mask or Face Covering without assistance;
      6. employees and agents of the person responsible for the Public Place within an area designated for them and not for public access, or within or behind a physical barrier;
    • Please be respectful of the rights of individuals who are exempt from wearing a mask in conformity with the exemptions provided in the by-law.
    • To report an incident of noncompliance, contact the Halton Regional Police Service COVID19 Hotline: 905-825-4722.
    • If you have any questions or concerns, please call 311.
  • Provide a verbal reminder to employees, volunteers and patrons to wear a mask.
  • Consider offering alternative services to patrons who are unable to wear a mask (for example, provide online, telephone, curbside pickup or off-peak hour services).
  • Please note: Businesses must continue to follow additional direction provided by the Ontario government, health and safety associations and/or Halton Region Public Health. Visit covid-19.ontario.ca (external link) or Halton's COVID-19 Information and Guidance for more information.

Employees are required to wear a mask at all times unless they are:

  • exempt under the Consolidated Mask By-law (PDF file);
  • working in an area designated for them (not accessible to the public and able to maintain a physical distance of two metres from others); or
  • working within or behind a physical barrier.

Employees may be required to wear additional protective equipment as required by their employer (for example, gloves, face shield or goggles).

All customers are required to wear a mask in enclosed (indoor) service settings unless they are exempt. The mask must cover their mouth, nose and chin when they enter and remain on for the duration of the visit.

Consolidated Mask By-law 47-20 (PDF file) allows for the temporary removal of a mask when receiving a service, such as having a meal. Customers dining in outdoor restaurant patios are not required to wear a mask.

The staff member would be exempt under section 6. iv. of the Consolidated Mask By-law No. 47-20 (PDF file).

Please keep in mind that not all exemptions are visible. Section 9 of the by-law states that there is no requirement for the employee to provide proof of exemption.

The Consolidated Mask By-law No. 47-20 (PDF file) states:

  • no person shall be discriminated against for not wearing a mask due to an exemption (section 7)
  • members of the public are not required to provide proof of exemption (section 9)

If a customer has been refused entry, they should seek their own legal advice.

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