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The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Halton businesses of all sizes, as well as their employees and patrons. This page includes information on supports, services and relief programs that can assist business owners as the situation evolves. This page also includes sector-specific measures identified in the Provincial Roadmap to Reopen, general COVID-19 prevention information and additional guidance from Halton Region Public Health, the Ontario Government and other health and safety organizations.

Update

  • The Province has updated its guidance on self-isolation, symptoms, testing and what to do if you are exposed to COVID-19. To get the latest information on what you need to do to protect yourself and others please go to ontario.ca/exposed (external link).
  • Due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in Ontario, the Province has prioritized PCR testing for individuals in high-risk settings and specific groups. For a full list of individuals eligible for PCR testing, please visit the Ministry of Health’s Guidance document Prioritization for Molecular Testing for COVID-19 Infection (external PDF) (page 3). Public Health has been instructed by the Province to focus on contacting individuals in high-risk congregate settings (hospitals, long-term homes, retirement homes and congregate living facilities), and health care related outbreaks where vulnerable people reside and First Nations communities.
  • Any employee who has tested positive for COVID-19, has symptoms or has been exposed to COVID-19 should visit Ontario.ca/exposed (external link) to determine if they need to self-isolate or get testing. Continue to have employees use the COVID-19 self-assessment tool (external link) to get specific recommendations on self-isolation and testing. 
  • Please note that Halton Region Public Health is unable to provide letters related to individual isolation requirements or end of isolation dates.

Please visit COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions page for FAQs regarding workplace testing and self-isolation requirements.

Current situation

  • New Provincial Restrictions as of Wednesday, January 5, 2022 at 12:01 a.m. Some changes include:  
    • social gatherings must be limited to five people indoors or 10 outdoors;
    • indoor retail and personal care services will be limited to 50 per cent capacity with restrictions;
    • indoor weddings, funerals, and religious services and ceremonies will be limited to 50 per cent capacity;
    • indoor service will be closed at restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments with dance facilities; and
    • employees must work remotely wherever possible.
    • Read the Province’s January 3 media release for more information. (external link) 
  • Ontario supports for businesses: The Province is introducing new supports for many of the businesses that are most impacted by public health measures in response to the Omicron variant. These supports include a new Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program and a six-month interest- and penalty-free period to make payments for most provincially administered taxes. Read the Province’s December 22 media release for more information (external link).
  • Employers who are interested in setting up an employer-led vaccine clinic can reference the COVID-19: Help for businesses in Ontario | COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Ontario (external link) webpage or call the Ontario Together Contact Centre at 1-888-777-0554.

Public Health and Workplace Safety Measures

Employers are encouraged to enable and support workers in the following ways:

Eligible organizations and businesses can receive free, rapid antigen point-of-care test kits. Learn more about rapid testing (external PDF) and find out if your organization is eligible to access free test kits (external link).

The Province and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce have launched a new rapid testing portal to make it easier for all essential businesses to access free rapid testing to help keep employees and their families safe. Businesses can participate in the program by registering online (external link). Rapid testing is an additional screening method that can help stop the spread of COVID-19 by identifying cases that may otherwise have been missed.

All businesses and organizations must post signs at all entrances that inform individuals on how to screen themselves for COVID-19 symptoms using COVID-19 Signage Questions for Businesses and Organizations (external PDF). Halton Region has developed this COVID-19 Screening Poster (PDF file) that can be posted as the entrances to businesses.

Certain businesses and organizations are required to actively screen patrons. The COVID-19 Customer Screening Tool (external link) may be used to meet this requirement.

Workplaces must actively screen all workers before entering the work environment. For more information, please see the COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces (external link).

Parents of children in childcare and school must use the COVID-19 School and Child Care Screening Tool (external link) to assess their child for symptoms every day before going to school.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has launched a new mobile app to help make workplace health and safety resources on COVID-19 accessible to workers in Canada (external link).

Guidance documents and letters

On December 30, 2021, the Province announced significant changes to self-isolation and testing guidance. We are currently working to update our website and resources. Read the Province’s December 30 media release (external link) or go to ontario.ca/exposed (external link) for more information.

Halton Region’s MOH has issued the following instructions to help keep residents safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19. These instructions are in addition to provincial regulations:

Responding to COVID-19

Rapid Testing for Workplaces

Ontario COVID-19 public health measures and advice

Preventing COVID-19 in the workplace

Health and Safety Association Guidance

Proof of COVID-19 vaccination guidance

 

Modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen

The Province has announced new public health and workplace safety measures in response to the rapidly spreading and highly transmissible Omicron variant. These measures will help curb transmission and continue to safeguard Ontario’s hospitals and ICU capacity as the province continues to rapidly accelerate its booster dose rollout. 

  • Effective Wednesday, January 5, 2022 at 12:01 a.m. the province will return a modified version of Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen. This includes updated capacity limits for many indoor settings, such as retail, public libraries, personal care services, and weddings, funerals and religious services. Indoor spaces for dining, events, sports, fitness, arts, culture and entertainment are required to close. Social gatherings must be limited to five people indoors and 10 people outdoors.  Read the Province’s January 3 media release for more information. (external link)
  • Employers in all industries should make every effort to allow employees to work from home. Beginning January 5, 2022 employees must work remotely wherever possible.

Businesses can contact the Stop the Spread Information Line at 1-888-444-3659 with any questions about impacts to operations or employment.

Sector Specific Support and Guidance

Ontario returned to a modified version of Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen effective January 5, 2022 at 12:01 a.m. Read the Province’s January 3 media release for more information. (external link)

This section provides sector specific COVID-19 information based on the Province’s current public health measures, advice and restrictions (external link) and information from other health and safety organizations. Sector specific guidance, posters and tools regarding workplace health and safety can also be found on the provincial website (external link).

For specific questions about COVID-19 provincial regulations, please contact the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659. Questions can also be submitted directly to the Ministry of Health (external link).

This content has moved. Please visit the new COVID-19 Information for Child Care Operators webpage for child care guidance documents and resources.

Effective January 5, 2022, indoor meeting and event spaces are closed with limited exceptions. Outdoor spaces are permitted to remain open with restrictions. Find out more O. Reg. 263/20 Rules for Areas in Step 2 (external link).

Ministry of Health

Workplace Safety & Prevention Services

The following guidance documents are intended to support operators of group homes and other congregate settings.

If you are a long-term care or retirement home administrator or employee looking for information about COVID-19 infection prevention and control, please visit Halton’s Long-term Care and Retirement Homes - Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) page.

Effective January 5, 2022, indoor concert venues, theatres and cinemas are closed with limited exceptions. Outdoor spaces are permitted to remain open with restrictions. Find out more O. Reg. 263/20 Rules for Areas in Step 2 (external link).

The following guidance document is intended to support owners and operators of multi-unit housing (for example, apartments and condominiums) to ensure public safety and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Public Services Health & Safety Association

Resources

Effective January 5, 2022, personal care services are limited to 50 per cent capacity with restrictions. Find out more O. Reg. 263/20 Rules for Areas in Step 2 (external link).

Public Health Ontario

Ontario Government

Effective January 5, 2022, indoor dining is not permitted at restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments. Takeout, drive-through and delivery is permitted, in addition to outdoor dining with the following restrictions:

  • Maximum 10 patrons per table, with limited exceptions (e.g., all members of the same household).
  • Patrons must be seated at all times, with limited exceptions (e.g., using the washroom, paying).
  • Open only from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. (take-out, drive-through or delivery permitted at any time).
  • Businesses must record the name and contact information of patrons and actively screen patrons, with limited exceptions (e.g., quick service restaurants).
  • Outdoor dining area must have at least two full sides, or one full side and the roof, open to the outdoors and unobstructed. Any business that is planning to build a roof, canopy, tent, awning, or other element must ensure all necessary building permits and approvals are obtained from their local municipality.
  • No dancing or singing.
  • Liquor sold or served only from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Maximum capacity must be posted.

Find out more O. Reg. 263/20 Rules for Areas in Step 2 (external link).

Ministry of Health

Ministry of Labour

National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health

Resources

Effective January 5, 2022, retail settings, including shopping malls, are limited to 50 per cent capacity with restrictions. Find out more O. Reg. 263/20 Rules for Areas in Step 2 (external link).

Halton’s Medical Officer of Health has issued amended instructions to workplaces (PDF file), including retail businesses and shopping malls.

Effective January 5, 2022, indoor sport and recreational facilities are closed with limited exceptions (such as athletes training for Olympics and Paralympics, select professional and elite amateur sport leagues). Outdoor facilities are open with spectators limited to 50 per cent capacity and other restrictions. Proof of vaccination required for facilities with a usual capacity of 20,000 or more people. Find out more: O. Reg. 263/20 Rules for Areas in Step 2 (external link).

Please note: Halton Region Public Health is not responsible for approving any return-to-play plans for professional and elite amateur sports leagues. Eligible organizations, as defined in O.Reg.263/20 (external link), must comply with all requirements outlined in Schedule 1 s.8 ‘Professional and elite amateur sports’. This includes but is not limited to the following:

Beginning December 20, 2021, proof of vaccination will be required for anyone 12 years of age and older participating in organized sports at recreational facilities. Read the Province’s December 10th news release for more information (external link).

Halton Region’s Medical Officer of Health issued a letter of instruction which requires persons responsible for indoor areas of facilities used for organized sports and recreational fitness activities (PDF file) with instructions to implement vaccination policies requiring all individuals 12 years of age or older to be vaccinated for COVID-19 to participate (in various ways) in organized sports and recreational fitness activities in these settings. Learn more about how to establish a vaccination policy.

Ontario Government

Lifesaving Society of Canada

The following guidance document is intended for taxi and ride share companies, drivers, and passengers to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Halton Region Public Health Guidance

Workplace Safety & Prevention Services

Vaccination Information for Employers

Promoting vaccine uptake is important to help reduce COVID-19 workplace outbreaks and build confidence for a safer return to work. The COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect your workplace from the risks of COVID-19. It is safe and highly effective at protecting against serious illness, hospitalization and death.

Workplaces can help encourage vaccination by creating a supportive environment that makes it easier for workers to get vaccinated, and by providing information from trusted sources. COVID-19 vaccination provides an important layer of protection for workers, their families and the community.

Employers who are interested in setting up an employer-led vaccine clinic can reference the COVID-19: Help for businesses in Ontario | COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Ontario (external link) webpage or call the Ontario Together Contact Centre at 1-888-777-0554.

Halton’s Medical Officer of Health has issued amended instructions to businesses and organizations (PDF file), beginning September 10, 2021. These instructions 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. For more information, see the September 7 media release.

Learn more about the recommendations for businesses in Halton.

Employers can encourage workers to get vaccinated and support increased vaccination uptake with a few simple steps:

  • Lead by example and get fully vaccinated.
  • Share your reasons for getting the vaccine.
  • Consider recruiting workplace vaccine champions to help staff understand the benefits of getting vaccinated.
  • Post information about nearby vaccination clinics in common areas.
  • Offer flexible work hours for employees to go get vaccinated.

Many people want to get vaccinated however they may not have the opportunity or the time to get their COVID-19 vaccines. For example, an individual may not live or work close to a clinic, or they may be concerned about side effects or unsure how to get vaccinated without a health card. Visit COVID-19 Halton Vaccination clinics for more information on where to get vaccinated as well as information about accessibility, accommodation and language supports available at Halton Region Community Vaccination clinics.

Resources:

For more resources, including translated resources, visit COVID-19 vaccine resources.

Employers have an obligation to maintain a safe work environment for their workers. To help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, a workplace vaccination policy is an important measure employers should implement to protect their workers and the public.

The Province has made COVID-19 vaccination policies mandatory in certain high-risk (external link), e.g., long term care, hospitals and others. Halton’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Hamidah Meghani, has recommended that all local employers address the need for a workplace vaccination policy to protect their workers and the public from COVID-19 (PDF file).

Assess your workplace risk of COVID-19 transmission. For example:

  • How many workers are part of your workforce?
  • Can workers keep at least two metres apart while performing their work?
  • Are there circumstances in which masks can or must be removed in the context of workplace activities? (This includes workers, customers/patrons and members of the public entering the workplace.)
  • Are workers required to be in close contact with others, at the workplace or in the community while performing their work?
  • How long and how often are workers in close contact with other workers, customers/patrons or the public?
  • Does your workplace have: physical barriers when workers cannot keep distance from each other, customers/patrons or the public; good ventilation; and/or personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect workers?
  • Do you have workers who may be at risk for severe illness from COVID-19? Some people may have reduced immunity due to age, pre-existing health conditions or medical treatments.
  • Is your workplace able to offer alternative work for people who require accommodation, for example remote work?

Workplace vaccination policies should adhere to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (external link), the Ontario Human Rights Code (external link), and privacy laws (external link).

Please note: the information provided on this webpage does not contain legal advice and should not be relied on or treated as legal advice; those for whom these recommendations are intended may seek their own legal advice for their specific circumstance.

  1. Identify the scope and purpose.
    • Explain purpose of the policy including the risks of COVID-19. Vaccination against COVID-19 is one of the best ways to protect workers who work in a location with common areas and/or where workers can have contact with other workers, customers/patrons or the public. The Delta variant of the coronavirus is more contagious, with greater risk for severe illness and hospitalization.
    • Explain who the policy applies to. Will the policy apply to all workers (i.e., not just employees but also contractors (including staff from 3rd party agencies), volunteers, students etc.)? Is there a separate policy for customers/patrons?
    • Explain that the policy may change as the status of the pandemic changes and/or legislation or public health advice changes.
    • Have a clear communication plan to inform workers about the policy.
  2. List action steps workers must take.
    When determined by the employer to be reasonably necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace or in the community while performing their work, workplace policies should require workers to provide proof of vaccination of a Health Canada or World Health Organization-approved vaccine. Alternatively, workers who do not provide proof of vaccination may need to, for example:
    • Indicate that they have a medical exemption, including if the reasons are temporary or permanent. The medical exemption should be written by a licensed doctor or nurse practitioner and does not need to include the reason for the exemption.
    • Complete a vaccination education course, with a signed declaration stating that they have reviewed and understood the content. The vaccination education course should include information on:
      • how the COVID-19 vaccines work;
      • vaccine safety related to the development of the COVID-19 vaccines;
      • the benefits of vaccination against COVID-19;
      • risks of not being vaccinated against COVID-19; and
      • possible side effects of COVID-19 vaccination.
  3. Set deadlines for when the actions must be taken.
    Specify a reasonable date when workers must demonstrate compliance with the workplace policy.
  4. List available supports for vaccination.
    Demonstrate your commitment to supporting workers to get vaccinated. Ways to support workers to get vaccinated include:
    • providing vaccine information from credible sources or translated resources;
    • supporting vaccine champions to initiate conversations with their peers;
    • providing paid leave to get vaccinated;
    • reminding workers that they are entitled to up to three paid sick days (external PDF), if they have side effects from the vaccine; and/or
    • providing transportation support to get vaccinated.
  5. Provisions for unvaccinated workers
    Your policy should list alternative options for workers who decline to get vaccinated for reasons protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code (external link), including those unable to complete their vaccination series for medical reasons. Some options to consider include:
    • Use of additional PPE, worker relocation and modified work or reassignments.
    • In the event of a COVID-19 outbreak, unvaccinated and partially vaccinated workers (who have only received one dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series) are not be permitted to work in the outbreak area. Workers without vaccination records should be assumed to be unvaccinated.
    • If reassignment is not possible, consider if unvaccinated workers should receive paid or unpaid leave or use vacation days until it is safe for them to return to the workplace.
  6. Non-Compliance
    • Outline the potential consequences for workers who do not fulfill the requirements of the policy.
  7. Privacy considerations
    • The policy should specify how individual vaccination status of employees will be used by employers to mitigate the health-related risks of COVID-19.
    • Information about workers’ vaccination information must be protected in accordance with applicable privacy legislation. Knowing your workers’ vaccination status may be important to help you take appropriate action quickly, in the event of COVID-19 cases in your workplace, to protect workers, their families, customers/patrons and the general public. This may include sharing that information with public health officials.
    • When collecting information about a worker’s vaccination status:
      • Identify ways to safeguard workers’ personal health information.
      • Limit information collected to what is reasonably necessary, (for example, copy of the proof of vaccination for each dose).
      • Keep worker vaccination information separate from their personnel file.
      • Ensure personal health/vaccination information is kept in a secure manner and only used when required.
  8. Staff contact
    • Identify who at your organization workers should contact with questions about the policy, to request accommodation, or for more information how to comply with the policy. The policy should also indicate the person to whom workers should provide proof of vaccination.
  9. Continued adherence to COVID-19 prevention measures
    Vaccination does not replace the need for strict adherence to established COVID-19 public health measures. Employers must continue to implement all COVID-19 prevention measures for their sector outlined in provincial guidelines (external link) and Halton Region Public Health guidance including, but not limited to: screening, physical distancing, wearing of masks and eye protection, hand hygiene, infection prevention and control, and a COVID-19 safety plan.

Resources:

Ontario workers may qualify for up to three days of paid sick leave (external PDF) under Provincial legislation. The pay is at regular wages, up to $200 per day. Workers may take time off work to get vaccinated or if they have side effects from the vaccine. However, the three days are not in addition to existing paid sick days, if offered by the employer.

Employers may apply for reimbursement from the Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) for payment made under this sick leave program. The program is currently retroactive to April 19, 2021 and will end on July 31, 2022.

Resources:

More information about sick leave during COVID-19:

  • Vaccination and COVID-19 prevention measures in workplaces
    Workplace vaccination policies are important tools to prevent workers from being exposed to COVID-19. COVID-19 prevention and control measures are still required to prevent the spread of COVID-19 if it enters the workplace. After vaccination, continue to follow public health measures outlined to help keep your workplace safe.
  • Post-Vaccination Screening and COVID-19 Testing if Symptomatic
    Continue to screen employees daily using the COVID-19 worker and employee screening (external link) for COVID-19 symptoms, even after they have been vaccinated.
  • Self-Isolation after Vaccination
    If an employee is symptomatic, has tested positive or has been exposed to someone who is symptomatic or has tested positive, they should visit Ontario.ca/exposed to determine if they need to self-isolate.

Visit the COVID-19 vaccine Frequently Asked Questions webpage for further information on vaccination in the workplace.

Vaccine certificates for patrons

Businesses and organizations are required to check that patrons 12 and older are fully vaccinated before they enter the building. Effective January 4, 2022, businesses must scan enhanced vaccine certificate QR codes using the verify Ontario app (external link). See the following for more information on this provincial requirement:

Enhanced vaccine certificates with unique QR codes are available from the provincial portal (external link). The Verify Ontario app for businesses is now available for download in app stores. For more information read the Province’s October 15 media release (external link) and the Using your Enhanced Vaccine Certificate Frequently Asked Questions (external link).

Enforcement

To report an incident of non-compliance with the provincial emergency orders in Halton, please call the Halton Regional Police Service COVID-19 hotline at 905-825-4722. The hotline will accept non-compliance reports for the following:

A police officer or by-law officer will follow up to address the situation and describe the importance of the emergency measures. If necessary, the officer will issue a ticket or summons.

Health care settings have specific guidelines, which are established by the Ontario Ministry of Health Regulated Health Professionals Act (external link) and are enforced by the Regulatory Colleges. Halton Region will work with health care settings and regulatory colleges as deemed necessary to ensure that organizations are following Public Health direction. For more information please visit health.gov.on.ca (external link)

Please call 911 for emergencies only. To report non-compliance with Regional by-laws or to contact Halton Region Public Health, please call 311.

Supports for small business owners

The Halton Small Business Centre is continuing to support Halton small businesses and working with our local community partners during COVID-19. Contact us for more information about our virtual services and programs. We’re here to help!

For more information, visit our Halton Business Blog (external link), follow Halton Business on Twitter (external link), follow Halton Business on Facebook (external link) or email smallbusiness@halton.ca. For more information about supports, programs and opportunities specific to your community, please visit your local municipality’s website.
 

Available supports for businesses

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