covid19 banner image
print header


Reopening and Operating your Business Safely

On July 17th we moved into Stage 3 of the Framework for Opening the Province. Nearly all businesses and workplaces are allowed to operate while following proper public health and safety guidelines. Restrictions on gatherings apply to business operations in both indoor and outdoor settings such that:

  • Indoor gathering limits are a maximum of 50 people.
  • Outdoor gathering limits are a maximum of 100 people.
    • In all cases, individuals are required to maintain physical distancing of at least two metres with people from outside their households or social circles.
  • All businesses, services and public spaces when hosting an event are subject to indoor or outdoor gathering limits and ensuring physical distancing can be maintained.
    • People at their place of work, including performers and crews, do not count towards gathering limits.
    • This guidance document provides recommendations to help stop the spread of COVID-19 when organizing and attending an indoor or outdoor event or gathering.

For a listing of all restrictions please visit A Framework for Reopening our Province: Phase 2: Restart — Stage 3

NEW: Effective July 13, 2020, owners or operators of all businesses, organizations and public transit services in Simcoe and Muskoka must have policies in place to restrict people from entering if they are not wearing a non-medical mask or face covering. Best efforts shall be made to only allow entry to customers wearing a face covering. The face covering must be worn inside the business or organization at all times, unless it is reasonably required to temporarily remove the face covering for services provided by (such as eating or drinking).

Regarding signage, we only ask that you post appropriate visible signage indicating that face coverings are required inside the business or organization. Sample signage can be found at the bottom of this page under Public Signage.

These instructions were issued under the authority of the provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to ramp up efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

(Revised July 15th) Correspondence sent July 7, 2020- Instructions to Persons Responsible for a Business or Organization Permitted to Open under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990 and related Regulations

Guidance on Face Covering Instructions for Businesses and Organizations (including Public Transit Services)

FAQ's for Businesses and Organizations - (Revised September 11, 2020)

If you have questions about impacts to your business call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at1-888-444-3659.

If you are an employee who has concerns about your health and safety that your employer is not addressing, you can file a complaint with the Health and Safety Contact Centre at 1-877-202-0008

While no specific protocols are in place for businesses that require staff housing, there is enough information in existing protocols for other sectors to guide recommendations for best practices in staff housing settings. The guidance documents for Temporary Foreign Worker accommodations and the Tourism and Hospitality sector provide a good foundation for determining appropriate prevention practices within staff housing.

At a minimum, the following precautions should be in place for businesses with staff housing:

Screening: Passive screening (posting signs) and active screening (asking employees to self-monitor for symptoms of respiratory illness).

Policies for when someone is ill: The employer must have plans in place if a worker fails the health screening, including how to access COVID-19 testing and how to isolate symptomatic workers from others.

Environmental cleaning: Provide employees in staff housing with supplies to clean and disinfect their housing and encourage regular cleaning and disinfection of shared areas and frequently touched surfaces.

Physical distancing and cohorting: Limit the number of employees in staff housing to allow them to maintain physical distancing and provide a minimum of 2 metres (6 feet) between beds and furniture in common areas. Encourage employees sharing staff accommodation to maintain physical distance from others and to use face coverings when physical distancing is not possible. Discourage shared meals and meal preparation and keep working groups together during on and offsite activities to limit transmission.

Educate employees to protect themselves and others:

  • Practice good hand hygiene: wash with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer 
  • Practice respiratory etiquette by sneezing and coughing into your sleeve
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth

The health unit and the The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development have roles and responsibilities for protecting public health and worker safety. COVID-19 is a reportable disease in Ontario and all cases are reported to local public health for investigation. Public health staff provide case investigation and management and follow up with tracing of contact. Public health also provides outbreak management support for a variety of settings. Workplace illnesses and injuries must be reported to The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development . Depending on setting-specific arrangements staff housing may be considered part of the workplace. Complaints or concerns about COVID-19 practices in various settings can be reported to us by calling Health Connection 705-721-7520 (1-877-721-7520) or by filling out the online form.

The provincial government is permitting summer day camps to operate during the months of July and August 2020. Overnight camps are prohibited. For public health recommendations provided by the Ontario Ministry of Health please see COVID-19 Guidance Summer Day Camps.(Revised August 13, 2020)

Management of individuals who develop symptoms of possible COVID-19
If a child or staff member fails a screen, they must be excluded from the day camp. Refer the individual to an assessment centre for testing for COVID-19. Contact SMDHU at 1-877-721-7520 ext. 8809 if a camper or staff member reports that they are positive for COVID-19. The health unit will provide specific advice on required control measures to prevent the potential spread and how to monitor for other possible infected staff members and children.

Other resources have been created by SMDHU to assist day camp providers to assess readiness to open, reduce the risk of introducing and spreading COVID-19 and recording active surveillance. Please see:

With many buildings either closed or experiencing lower occupancy as a result of COVID-19, many properties have used less water and increased the amount of water stagnation in plumbing systems. It is important for business owners to flush both cold and hot water lines, and drain hot water tanks to remove stagnant water from their building’s plumbing system.

If you are reopening your business you need to sample the private drinking water supply at a licensed laboratory ahead of reopening.

For more information and resources for your business visit the small drinking water systems section of our website.

Large employers, such as those in the manufacturing sector have a number of risks associated with their operations. These settings, where a large congregation of employees interact and work collectively on tasks provide ideal locations for viral transmission, in particular where employees work within a 2 metre range.

In addition to the sector specific guidelines provided by the Province, we recommend the practice of cohorting staff. ‘Cohorting’ or ‘bubbling’ refers to the act of ensuring that staff that work together performing similar tasks should remain as a ‘bubble’ or team during breaks (i.e. lunch), meetings, or in entering/leaving the facility where possible with limiting interaction with others. The act of cohorting limits contact with employees in the organization outside of the ‘bubble’, which in the event of a positive COVID-19 case within the bubble, limits the potential spread of the virus to more people than necessary. This is advantageous since the employer limits the number of ‘close contacts’ that would be required to isolate (and therefore not be permitted to work) and more importantly, limit a large scale outbreak in the facility.

May 19, 2020 - Letter for large employers

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) has identified, based on data available, that there is a high risk of spread of COVID-19 within agricultural farms in Simcoe County and The District of Muskoka. To protect the health of temporary foreign workers SMDHU has issued a local Section 22 Class Order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act. The Section 22 Class Order requires that all owners and operators of farms in the region who employ farm workers, including Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW), local workers and temporary help agency workers, take actions to protect their labour force.

The following public health guidance and resources support employers of temporary foreign farm workers in Ontario to effectively respond to COVID-19 and protect these workers from becoming ill:

On July 17th all restaurants, bars, concession stands, and other food premise (e.g. wineries, breweries and distilleries) may open for indoor dining as well as outdoor dining. Please refer to the COVID-19 Public Health Guidelines for Food Premises – Updated July 30, 2020.

For more information and resources for your business visit the food services section of our website.

Landlords, and property managers play an important role by taking the necessary precautions to prevent and limit the spread of COVID-19 in condominiums, apartment buildings, and other residential units.

  • Although multi-dwelling units are typically restricted tot he public without approved entry, the general public can enter such common spaces when going to a residence/room within the location. Therefore, face coverings are required in common areas (e.g. elevators, reception areas) as these areas may not permit physical distancing to take place. 
  • Limit the number of people that gather in shared spaces to ensure a distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others where ever possible ( e.g. lobbies, hallways, mail rooms, laundry rooms).
  • Remind residents of gatherings restrictions.
  • 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. Further:
  • It is strongly recommended that the surfaces and objects are first cleaned and then disinfected.
  • Some areas to focus on are laundry room appliances (e.g. washers, dryers, baskets and counters), door handles, light switches, mailboxes, stairwell railings, elevator buttons, and buzzer systems.
  • Commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are effective against COVID-19 but 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.
  • Anyone recently returning from international travel MUST self-isolate for 14 days in their unit and use delivery options if they need food, groceries, or other supplies. This is mandatory.

Should I consider making modifications to the ventilation system in my multi-unit dwellings?

While it has been shown that increasing ventilation (e.g. opening windows when weather permits) may help reduce the transmission of other viruses such as influenza, there is currently no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be spread through ventilation systems.

Knowledge on COVID-19 continues to evolve, however the current evidence does not suggest a risk of transmission from airborne virus in HVAC systems. Residents of multi-dwelling units can also take actions to protect themselves and others. Visit our main page for more information.

For the purposes of re-opening, child care operators are directed to the Ministry of Education Guideline as well as the SMDHU Guidance Document for Licensed Childcare Settings (Revised September 4, 2020). Reopening inspections will not be required for existing licensed child care centres unless changes in age groups or ratios are planned. We are reminding all operators of child care centres to ensure that water flushing occurs prior to re-opening so that the water quality in the building is restored.

Letter: Flushing and Sampling in Child Care Centres Before Reopening- June 11, 2020

Additionally, we have created:

For more information and resources for your business visit the child care operators section of our website.

As of July 17, 2020, all services that tend to a customer's face are permitted (e.g. facials, ear piercing, and eyebrow grooming and eyelash extensions). As of June 12, 2020, all hair salons, spas, tanning salons, tattoo studios, diet centres and beauty salons were permitted to open in Stage 2.

Oxygen bars, bath houses, steam rooms and saunas are not yet permitted to open.

This SMDHU guidance document (revised July 16, 2020) and FAQ (revised July 16, 2020) is updated with new information for Stage 3.

For more information and resources for your business visit the personal services settings section of our website.

As of July 17, 2020, recreational water settings are permitted to open; (pools, wading pools, splash/spray pads and whirlpools/spa). Waterparks including float parks are not permitted to reopen in Stage 3. 

Prior to the re-opening of your pools and whirlpool/spa you will require an inspection from a Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Public Health Inspector. You will not be allowed to reopen if you haven’t had an inspection conducted of your pool/whirlpool/spa. 

You will need to submit the completed notification form to the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit - Environmental Health Department and ensure all requirements of Regulation 565 – Public Pools are met. 

Standing water at recreational water settings, can cause conditions that increase the risk for growth and spread of Legionella and other biofilm-associated bacteria. Stagnant water can also impact disinfectant levels. Please consider the recommendations from the Centre for Disease Control with respect to biofilm, flushing, water features and spa disinfection:

Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection 

  • In addition to standard cleaning protocols, clean and disinfect high touch surfaces including doorknobs, light switches, toilet handles, and tabletops at least twice daily.
  • Equipment that is rented or loaned must be disinfected or quarantined appropriately between uses. 
  • Any washrooms, locker rooms, showers or similar amenities made available to the public must be cleaned and disinfected frequently. 

Procedures must also be developed and implemented to ensure health and safety of employees and patrons.

For more information and resources for your business visit the recreational water facility section of our website and also review the FAQ.

The Public Health Guidance for Taxi and Rideshare Drivers- updated July 8, 2020 information is intended to help taxi and ride share drivers reduce the risk of exposure to illnesses including COVID-19.
Did you find what you were looking for today?
What did you like about this page?
How can we improve this page?

If you have any questions or concerns that require a response, please contact Health Connection directly.

Thanks for your feedback.
Failed to submit comment. Please try submitting again or contact us at the Health Unit.
Comment already submitted ...