Workplaces and Public Places

Certain Ontario businesses and workplaces may re-open as long as they comply with strict public health measures. Ontario businesses who have questions about the emergency orders can call the Province’s toll-free line: 1-888-444-3659.


When developing plans for your workplace, it is helpful to think of the hierarchy of controls, where the most important way to reduce exposure to COVID-19 is through physical distancing.  Masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) may be used when physical distancing is difficult to achieve.

Check the information below to see how you can eliminate and/or manage exposure in your workplace.

Physical Distancing - Maintaining at least 2 meters of physical

Physical Distancing

Eliminate Exposure
 Working from home and using technology.
 Maintaining a physical distance of two metres from others.
 Restricting the number of employees onsite.
 Managing traffic flow and using floor markings.


Adjusting the Workplace

 Rearranging desks.
 Spacing out work stations.
 Installing barriers or plexiglass between employees and/or residents.
 Ensuring proper and adequate ventilation meets industry guidelines and standards.


Adjusting Process

 Implementing health screening of all employees and visitors.
 Encouraging employees to practice good hand washing and hygiene techniques
 Encouraging individuals to practice hand hygiene directly after contact with high touch areas.
 Increasing cleaning and disinfecting.


Providing PPE

Manage Exposure
 Working from home and using technology.
 Maintaining a physical distance of two metres from others.
 Restricting the number of employees onsite.
 Managing traffic flow and using floor markings.


Adapted from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institution for Occupational Health and Safety for the purposes of COVID-19.

Videos: How the Hierarchy of Controls was implemented at City of Hamilton worksites 

  • Do not permit employees to come to work if they have symptoms of COVID-19. Symptomatic employees should contact their family doctor or public health to determine if a COVID-19 test is warranted.  
  • Employees, volunteers and customers should complete a health-screening questionnaire before entering the workplace.
  • If employees develop symptoms while at work, they should notify their supervisor and return home. Employees should follow guidelines for what to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor.
  • At a minimum, signs should be posted at the entrance reminding ill employees, clients or customers not to enter the workplace if they have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Soap and handwashing facilities and/or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, tissues, disinfecting wipes and no-touch waste receptacles should available for employees.
  • Before starting work and after returning from break, all employees should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be used.
  • Workplaces should display posters promoting hand-washing and respiratory etiquette.
  • Workplaces should follow cleaning and disinfection guidelines.
  • Cleaning frequency of high-touch surfaces such as point of sale transaction equipment, elevator buttons, keyboards, mouse, phones, desks, computers, door knobs, light switches, seating areas, lunch tables, kitchens, and washrooms should be increased.
  1. Inform your employees about any upcoming changes as much as possible - When people are informed of what changes are coming and how things are being addressed, they are better able to cope with the change.
  2. Ask employees what their needs are during this time - When you involve your employees in assessing their work needs during this time, it will provide them with some level of control over the situation.
  3. Acknowledge the many emotions that your employees are experiencing - It is important to recognize that it is very normal for people to experience anxiety and many different emotions at this time. It is important to validate these emotions and to let your employees know they are not alone.
  4. Ensure that there are social supports available for your employees - Physical distancing does not mean social isolation.  Have existing health and safety groups support mental well-being by reaching out and connecting with other employees virtually.
  5. Promote positive ways to cope through this challenge - Share positive coping strategies with your employees to protect their mental health.
  6. Remind employees that we are all in this together – The reality is that we are all making changes and sacrifices right now in order to keep one another safe.
  7. Connect your employees to mental health supports Remind employees that it is ok to not be ok. Share information on existing EAP or EFAP programs that your workplace provides. For additional supports employees can visit:

Adapted from Managing through COVID-19 How to Support Your Employee’s Mental Health – An Employer’s Guide

Public Places


  • Attractions and heritage institutions, including museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites and similar attractions were permitted to reopen in Stage 2.
  • In addition to the exhibits opened in Stage 2, high-contact surfaces such as interactive exhibits and displays may open. They must be cleaned and disinfected frequently.
  • All special events, classes and performances at these locations are subject to gathering limits and physical distancing.

Shows & Theatres

  • Concerts, artistic events, theatrical productions, performances, and movie theatres may resume operations, including rehearsals, with some restrictions.
  • Audiences are subject to the number of people that can maintain physical distancing of at least two metres and cannot exceed gathering limits of 50 indoors and 100 outdoors. This applies to the entire facility, regardless of the number of theatres or performance stages within the facility.

Recreational Attractions

  • Indoor recreational facilities and attractions are now permitted to open and include arcade rooms, escape rooms, bowling alleys, and pool halls.
  • Physical distancing of at least two metres must be in place.
  • Equipment must be cleaned and disinfected frequently.

Health and safety guidance was developed in anticipation of child care centres re-opening.  

Child care centres and home care providers across Ontario are able to reopen with strict safety and operational requirements in place, similar to the safety guidelines required for emergency child care centres.

Centres will be required to adopt specific rules, including:

  • COVID-19 response plan - all child care settings will be required to have a plan in place if a child, parent or staff member/provider is exposed to COVID-19.
  • Screening - all staff and children must be screened prior to entry to the child care setting.  Anyone feeling unwell must stay home.
  • Daily attendance records - child care settings must keep daily records of all attendees in order to support contact tracing.
  • Cleaning - child care settings must be thoroughly cleaned before opening and frequently thereafter; removal of all toys that can easily spread germs.
  • No visitors - only essential visitors are permitted entry into the child care setting.
  • Implementing drop-off and pick-up protocols in a way that facilitates physical distancing.

Operators can contact the City of Hamilton’s Early Years and Childcare Services, who are working in conjunction with Public Health Services and others, to inquire about operation and infection prevention and control measures and concerns.

All places of worship in Ontario are permitted to re-open with physical distancing in place and attendance limited to no more than 30% of the seating capacity. 

The number of attendees at an indoor funeral is a maximum of 30% capacity of the venue. Outdoor funerals can have a maximum of 100 attendees. All attendees must practice physical distancing from those outside of their household.

Health & Safety Guidance for Places of Worship (PDF)

When developing guidelines for re-opening places of worship, it is important to apply the Hierarchy of Controls:

Physical Distancing

  • Limit the number of people to 30% of seating capacity to ensure physical distancing can be maintained.
  • Maintain physical distancing of 2 metres (6 feet) between everyone in the place of worship, unless attending with members of the same household.  Note: physical distancing of at least two metres is required in Hamilton during COVID-19 under By-law 20-164
  • Manage traffic flow using floor markings.

Adjusting the Setting

  • Rearrange seating so that people are maintaining physical distancing from other people in different households. If this is not possible, seating should be blocked off to only permit 30% seating capacity.
  • Ensure ventilation meets industry guidelines and standards.

Adjusting the Process

  • All attending the place of worship should complete a health-screening questionnaire before entering.
  • At a minimum, signs should be posted at the entrance reminding ill attendees not to enter the place of worship if they have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Do not permit people to attend if they have symptoms of COVID-19. Symptomatic attendees should contact their family doctor or public health to determine if a COVID-19 test is warranted.
  • If people develop symptoms while at a place of worship, they should notify leaders and return home and follow guidelines for what to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Attendees who are well but who have a family member at home with COVID-19 should not attend.
  • Encourage attendees to practice good handwashing and hygiene techniques (provide handwashing stations or alcohol-based hand rub at entrance).
  • Encourage handwashing after people come in contact with high touch areas such as door handles.
  • Increase cleaning and disinfecting to minimum twice per day.
  • Refer to Ministry guidance for sharing or distributing materials or objects.

Manage Exposure

Singing and instrument playing

Our local direction to places of worship for music and singing is outlined below. It is important to note that the Ministry of Health advice is to adapt or suspend indoor singing activities, choir service and playing brass/wind instruments.

  1. Consider using pre-recorded audio or video for music during services.
  2. Places of worship may have a soloist and accompanying instrument players.
  3. Only the soloist is able to sing. Please note that if there are several soloists taking turns, barriers and equipment should be disinfected prior to each soloist. Consider separate microphones for each soloist or disinfect the microphone between each person and use disposable microphone covers for the head of the microphone.
  4. All performers must practice physical distancing (at least 2 metres/6 feet), use of plexiglass or other impermeable barriers and wear face coverings (except when singing).
  5. Instruments that are not wind or brass must physically distance and wear face coverings but do not need to be behind an impermeable barrier
  6. Places of worship should consider additional measures such as increasing spacing distance between performers, limiting duration of play for wind/brass instruments and if possible, consider increasing ventilation (open windows, relocate players away from air conditioners/fans, etc.)
  7. Barriers must be large enough to create an effective barrier between the breathing zones of the people on each side. A person’s breathing zone has a diameter of about 60 cm (24 in.) which means it extends 30 cm (12 in.) in every direction from the person’s nose.

A barrier should be positioned to accommodate the heights of the tallest and shortest people who will likely be near it. If one person is standing and the other is seated, the barrier should extend 30 cm (12 in.) below the seated person’s nose and 30 cm (12 in.) above the standing person’s nose. Barriers should also be wide enough to account for the normal movement of both people.

Social Gatherings

Social gatherings before or after in-person services, including those where food and drink are shared:

  • Any social gathering should ideally be suspended before or after a service.
  • If a gathering occurs, it must comply with the gathering restrictions set out by the province. Physical distancing must be maintained between non-household members.
  • There can be a maximum or 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
  • Individuals should be screened before attending to ensure they are not sick or have come into contact with a person with COVID-19.
  • A record of attendants at the gathering should be kept by the host in case of an outbreak, including first and last names and telephone numbers; any rental agreements need to have a name and contact number for the host .
  • Ensure frequent cleaning throughout the facility. Washrooms and surfaces that are used at the gathering must cleaned and disinfected routinely.
  • Cleaning and disinfection should be completed at a frequency needed to maintain the facility in a sanitary condition.
  • Only pre-packaged food or food provided by table service should be served. Catering must be provided in pre-packaged servings or by full sit-down table service. Buffet style and potluck meals are not permitted at this time.
  • Event space should allow those not living in the same household to maintain physical distancing at all times (2 metre gap around person).
  • Those living outside of the same household should not be in close contact.
  • Tables should be set up in advance. Only people living in the same household should be seated at the same table, with a 2-metre separation between tables.

Convention centres, meeting and event spaces are subject to physical distancing measures and gathering limits (50 people indoors per room, 100 people outdoors), which apply to the entire facility.

People gathering indoors for religious services, rites or ceremonies, and wedding ceremonies or funeral services, can continue to fill up to 30 per cent of the capacity of the particular room, as introduced in Stage 2.

City of Hamilton Guidance for Hosting Gatherings and Events

Ministry Guidance for Meeting & Event Facilities

  • Personal care services, including but not limited to hair salons, spas, tanning salons, tattoo studios, diet centres and beauty salons, were permitted to open in Stage 2.
  • In addition to the services permitted in Stage 2, all services that tend to a customer’s face are permitted (e.g., facials, ear piercing, eyebrow grooming and eyelash extensions).
  • Steam rooms, oxygen bars, saunas and bath houses must remain closed.
  • Patrons must wear face coverings except while receiving services on an area of their face that would otherwise be covered by a face covering.
  • Workers must wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Personal care services must take measures to enable physical distancing between patrons, such as limiting the number of people who may be in the business at any one time.
  • Businesses should consider operating by appointment wherever possible.
  • Businesses should also consider recording each patron’s name and contact information to support effective contact tracing in case of an outbreak.

Information to assist with re-opening:

For further information please call Hamilton Public Health Services COVID-19 Hotline  at 905-974-9848, Option 4.


  • Practice physical distancing by keeping 2 metres (6 feet) away from others while waiting for an elevator and riding an elevator. Aim for no more than two or three people in the elevator at any time, unless they are also household members, to avoid close contact with others.
  • Take the stairs when possible or wait for the next elevator to avoid overcrowding.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth after touching elevator buttons or other elevator surfaces (e.g. mirrors or railings). 
  • Cover your cough or sneeze by using a tissue or your arm/sleeve.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer after leaving the elevator.
  • Enhanced cleaning practices should be in place for high-touch items, such as elevator buttons and surfaces. Clean and disinfect at minimum twice per day.


Shared Laundry Facilities

While COVID-19 is mainly spread through person to person contact, it may be possible to be exposed to the virus by touching a contaminated surface in a shared laundry facility and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Practice physical distancing and keep 2 metres (6 feet) away from others. 
    • If physical distancing is not possible, wear a non-medical mask or face covering.
  • Limit the number of people allowed in a shared area at one time.
  • Avoid doing laundry if the facility is busy/crowded or when physical distancing is not possible.
  • Where possible, open windows or doors to increase ventilation in shared areas.
  • Wash your hands before and after doing laundry.
  • Clean laundry machine controls and common surfaces before and after each use, at mimimum twice per day.
  • Wear disposable gloves when handling dirty laundry belonging to a person who is sick.
  • Do not shake dirty laundry.
  • Do not overload laundry machines.
  • Wash laundry using the warmest temperature setting possible.
  • Dry laundry at the highest temperature setting possible until completely dry.
  • Close washer and dryer doors when finished.
  • Place and fold clean clothes on a cleaned surface or separate area from where dirty clothes were placed.
  • Disinfect hampers between use for dirty and clean laundry OR use a designated clean and dirty hamper to ensure cross-contamination does not occur.


Additional information for housing providers during COVID-19

All restaurants, bars, concession stands, and other food and drink establishments may open for indoor dine-in, dining in outdoor areas such as patios, curbside, parking lots and adjacent premises and take-out, drive-through, and delivery service.

Nightclubs are not permitted to open, except for the purpose of serving food or drinks to patrons in accordance with the conditions that apply to restaurants and bars.

Buffet-style service is not permitted.

All patrons must be seated when eating or drinking at the establishment.

Restaurants & bars must:

  • record the name and contact information of one person per party who enters an indoor or outdoor dining area in the establishment, other than patrons who temporarily enter the area to place, pick up or pay for a takeout order,
  • maintain the records for a period of at least one month, and
  • only disclose the records to a medical officer of health or an inspector under the Health Protection and Promotion Act on request

Establishments must take appropriate measures to ensure physical distancing of at least two metres between tables, including:

  • Using reservations.
  • Limiting number of patrons allowed in the outdoor space at one time.
  • Ensuring enough space between tables, including to allow for movement.

Plexiglass or an impermeable barrier can be used for separation in areas where physical distancing of less than two metres exists.

Physical distancing of two metres between patrons from different households or social circles continues to apply to food trucks, food courts, concession stands and tours, including tastings at wineries, breweries and distilleries.

Other restrictions:

  • Restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments (including nightclubs) cannot sell alcohol after 11 pm, cannot permit the consumption of alcohol on the premises after 12 am until 9 am (including employees). These establishments are required to close by 12 am and remain closed until 5 am, except for takeout or delivery.
  • Singing/music at restaurants or bars is permissible, with restrictions, including barriers between the performers and patrons and physical distancing. Dancing may only be performed by someone working at the establishment with restrictions.
  • Karaoke is not permitted in private karaoke rooms but is permitted outside private karaoke rooms with barriers, physical distancing and increased cleaning and disinfecting.

Read guidelines below for specific guidance:

Sports Teams

Prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports is not permitted.

  • Team sports in which body contact between players is either an integral component of the sport or commonly occurs while engaged in the sport (e.g., wrestling, judo) are not yet permitted, unless the approach can be modified to prevent prolonged or deliberate physical contact.
  • Amateur and recreational sports leagues may resume so long as they do not allow prolonged or deliberate physical contact between players or if they have modifications to avoid physical contact between players.
  • Leagues must contain no more than 50 participants total. If participants in a league exceed 50, the league may divide into smaller groups of no more than 50. Players are not yet permitted to play against players outside of their league or group.
  • Spectators at all sporting events will be subject to gathering limits and physical distancing measures, with assigned seating where possible.

Sports clubs should review the sport return guidelines (listed individually for each sport) and follow the advice from the Provincial Sport Organizations.

In addition, review advice above for creating a COVID-19 response plan.

Fitness & Recreational Facilities

Ministry Guidance for Sports & Recreational Facilities
Facilities for sports and recreational fitness activities include gyms, fitness studios, and community centres.

  • Physical distancing of at least 2 metres from others must be maintained, except as needed for personal training.
  • The total number of people permitted in areas containing weights or exercise machines is limited to the number of people that can maintain physical distancing of at least two metres, which cannot exceed the indoor gathering limit of 50 people.
  • The total number people permitted in classes or organized activities at any one time is limited to the number of people that can maintain physical distancing of at least two metres, and cannot exceed the indoor gathering limit of 50 people or the outdoor limit of 100.
  • Capacity limits outlined above are per room, but require physical distancing of at least 2 metres from others.
  • Assigned spaces are strongly recommended for organized fitness classes (e.g., by marking circles on the floor to designate where each person should exercise).
  • Gathering limits do not apply in all other areas (e.g., pools, tennis courts and rinks).
  • Equipment must be cleaned and disinfected between user sets.
  • Any washrooms, locker rooms, change rooms, showers or similar amenities made available to the public must be cleaned and disinfected frequently.
  • Steam rooms and saunas are not yet permitted to open.

All day camp operators are to follow the guidelines from the Ministry of Health.(PDF, 149 KB)

No pre-opening inspections are required from Hamilton Public Health Services.

No notification is required to Hamilton Public Health Services for re-openings plans, with exceptions for existing reporting requirements such as re-opening of swimming pools or bathing areas on beaches.

Follow directions issued by your respective Ministry on safe operations and other required actions.

The resources and guidance documents provided on this page are to help workplaces and businesses conduct their own COVID-19 risk assessment and develop processes to help protect their employees and patrons. It remains the responsibility of the workplace to ensure that it complies with all applicable laws and is permitted to operate when deciding to open. Hamilton Public Health services is available to answer questions and provide general comments about plans, however do not provide advice regarding a workplace’s ability to operate.

Related Links