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Infection Control Recommendations for Food Premises when Reopening

Operators of food premises must ensure they comply with all applicable regulations regarding their event or rental space.  As the organizer or operator it is your responsibility to ensure you remain up to date on all premise specific regulations as they may change based on regulatory requirements and Covid-19 reopening stage that the business is currently in, which may include:

  • Advice, recommendations, and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health regarding cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Requirements to actively or passively screen employees and members of the public.
  • Requirements of members of the public and employees regarding mask or face covering use.
  • Requirement for employees to wear personal protective equipment.
  • Capacity or gathering limits.
  • The requirement to physically distance.
  • Completion of a safety plan.
  • Limits to seating arrangements and dine-in options (e.g. separation of tables, number of people permitted to sit at a table)
  • Restrictions on music and dancing.
  • Requirements to record and maintain contact information.

Permitted hours of operation and the sale and consumption of liquor.


Screen patrons and staff for illness

  • Requirements to actively or passively screen members of the public and employees are dependent on the Reopening Stage the area is currently in.
  • Passive screening involves posting signage at public and staff entrances to prompt anyone to not enter if they feel unwell, have symptoms of COVID-19, have traveled outside of Canada in the past 14 days, or been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • Active screening involves having an employee or representative either, asking the individual or verifying that the individual has responded to the appropriate screening questions and that the answers provided meet the requirements. This also includes ensuring any individual who does not pass the screening does not enter the premise or event.
  • All individuals, including children, should be screened. Consider taking temperature checks of persons entering.  Deny entry to any individual who does not pass the screening.
  • If you provide services in a high-risk setting (e.g. Long-term care home, congregate settings). Visitors should be actively screened.
  • Where reservations or other appointments are made, advice or screen callers indicating to not attend an appointment if ill.
  • Screening questions and requirements can be found online at
Continue to practice and ensure physical and social distancing

  • Place signage and markers to notify patrons of physical distancing requirements.
  • Party size limits must meet provincial requirements.
  • Arrange furniture and other items used by patrons and staff more than 2 metres apart or separate the table by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.
  • Assign staff to ensure customers are maintaining safe physical distances in congested areas like entrances/exits and check-outs.
  • Occupancy limits are dependent on the stage the jurisdiction is currently in. In certain stages, the occupancy limit is based on how many individuals can maintain 2 metres apart and in other it is based on how many individuals can maintain 2 metres apart up to a maximum number defined in the Reopening Ontario Safely Act. 
  • Set and post-occupancy limits for indoor areas accessible to the public to ensure patrons can stay 2 metres apart. For example, you could set the occupancy limit by calculating the total useable floor space for patrons (e.g. subtract areas taken up by counters, seating, etc) and divide by 36 square feet. Small areas such as elevators should be considered.  Smaller public areas within the premise (e.g. washrooms) should also have occupancy limits that are posted.
  • Continue to limit or reduce workspace occupancy through work from home, work schedules, and break schedule adjustments where possible.
  • Cohort staff (i.e. schedule shifts so only the same group of staff work together) where possible to limit the impact of potential workplace outbreak on continuity of operations.
  • Avoid carpooling. Where sharing vehicles is required, passengers should sit in back seats (if available).  Commuters should wear masks and open windows if possible.
  • Patrons must remain seated at all times except:
    • While entering the area and moving to their tables
    • While placing or picking up an order
    • While exiting the area
    • While going to or returning from a washroom
    • While lining up to do any of the above activities
    • When necessary for health and safety purposes
Provide easy access to handwashing or hand sanitizer

  • Position handwashing or hand sanitizer stations in public (e.g. placed on every table, if supplies allow) and staff areas
  • Post signage to encourage proper hand washing in washrooms and food-handling areas.
Enhance environmental cleaning

  • Develop a schedule for increased, routine cleaning and disinfection as well as daily ‘complete’ cleaning before or after a work shift.
  • Ensure staff are trained in the proper use of cleaning and disinfection products (e.g. contact times, if PPE needs to be worn)
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs/handles, phones, railings, faucets, toilets, and other shared items frequently.  Clean and disinfect shared objects (e.g., payment terminals, tables, countertops/bars, receipt trays, condiment holders) between each use.  Surfaces should be immediately cleaned following spills or where someone displays respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough or sneeze) in the area.  Discard items that cannot be properly cleaned or disinfected (e.g. food items) after becoming contaminated.
  • Ensure washrooms are cleaned at least twice a day and when visibly soiled.
  • Change tables should be cleaned and disinfected after every use.  Signage should be posted providing instructions for customers as to how to do so where cleaning and disinfection products (e.g. wipes) are provided to patrons.  Otherwise, instructions should include customers notifying staff immediately after use.
  • Disinfectants used in public settings should have a DIN and virucidal claim.
  • Wash, rinse, disinfect, and then sanitize food contact surfaces, food preparation surfaces, and food preparation equipment.
  • Ensure that cleaning or disinfecting product residues are not left on table surfaces. Residues could cause allergic reactions or cause someone to ingest the chemicals.
  • Ensure safe and correct use and storage of disinfectants to avoid food contamination and harm to employees and other individuals. This includes storing products securely away from children.
  • Use gloves when removing garbage bags or handling and disposing of trash. Wash hands after removing gloves.
Shared Items

  • Discourage sharing of items that are difficult to clean, sanitize, or disinfect.
  • Limit any sharing of food, tools, equipment, or supplies by staff members.
  • Ensure adequate supplies to minimize sharing of high-touch materials (e.g., serving spoons) to the extent possible; otherwise, limit the use of supplies and equipment by one group of workers at a time and clean and disinfect between use.
  • Avoid using or sharing items that are reusable, such as menus, condiments, and any other food containers. Instead, use disposable or digital menus, single-serving condiments, and no-touch trashcans and doors.
  • Tables should not be set with utensils, dishes, and other foodservice items until the customers are present.
  • Use touchless payment options as much as possible, if available. Ask customers and employees to exchange cash or card payments by placing them on a receipt tray or on the counter rather than by hand to avoid direct hand-to-hand contact. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as pens, counters, or hard surfaces between uses and encourage patrons to use their own pens.
  • Use disposable food service items (e.g., utensils, dishes, napkins, tablecloths). If disposable items are not feasible or desirable, ensure that all non-disposable food service items are handled with gloves and washed with dish soap and hot water, or in a dishwasher. Employees should wash their hands after removing their gloves or after handling used food service items.
Provide personal protective equipment and physical barriers where applicable

  • Masks must be worn in enclosed public areas where the public is permitted and in enclosed areas where employees cannot maintain 2 metres physical distance.  Masks may be removed to consume food or drink.
  • Where persons cannot maintain physical distancing, install barriers (e.g. plexiglass in kitchens and at cash registers, host stands, or food pickup areas) or provide appropriate PPE (e.g. masks for staff who may need to be within 2 metres of customers or other staff members).
  • Appropriate PPE should be determined based on the task being completed
  • Ensure staff are trained as to how to don (i.e. put on) and doff (i.e. take off) PPE
Provide alternative service delivery where possible

  • All self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets, salad bars, and drink stations are prohibited.  Similarly, the use of food and beverage utensils and containers brought in by customers should be avoided.
  • Prioritize outdoor seating as much as possible
  • Stagger and limit dining times to minimize the number of customers in the premises.
  • Discourage crowded waiting areas by using phone apps, text technology, or signs to alert patrons when their table is ready. Avoid using “buzzers” or other shared objects.
  • Consider options for dine-in customers to order ahead of time to limit the amount of time spent in the establishment.
  • Avoid cash transactions.  Debit or credit using ‘tap’ option is preferred.
  • Provide services on-line or other methods (e.g. pick up) limiting interactions amongst people
  • Consider extending business hours if it reduces surges in patrons attending the workplace.
  • Hold meetings so that everyone is 2 metres or more apart, online or via teleconference.
  • Offer options for vulnerable employees at higher risk for severe illness (including older adults and people of all ages with certain underlying medical conditions) that limits their exposure risk (e.g., modified job responsibilities such as managing inventory rather than working as a cashier, or managing administrative needs through telework).
  • Hours that a Food premise is permitted to offer dine-in services varies depending on the stage the jurisdiction is currently in.


Music, Singing and Other Performances

Members of the public can only sing or perform music at the establishment if,

  • They are not singing or performing music in a private karaoke room
  • They are separated from every other person, including from other performers, by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier while singing or while performing on a brass or wind instrument;
  • They maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person while singing or performing music;
  • Any equipment used by members of the public while singing or performing music is cleaned and disinfected between each use.

A person or group under a contract with the establishment may dance, sing or perform music if the following requirements are met:

  • Singers and players of brass or wind instruments must be separated from any spectators by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.
  • Every performer and another person who provides work for the business or place must maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person, except,
    • If it is necessary for the performers or other persons to be closer to each other for the purposes of the performance or rehearsal,
    •  Where necessary for the purposes of facilitating the purchase of admission, food or beverages, or
    • Where necessary for the purposes of health and safety.
Get your water system ready after a prolonged facility shutdown

  • For those on a municipal or communal water supply, flush your water lines by opening all faucets for 10-15 minutes and the water runs clear.
  • For those on a private water supply, ensure equipment is operating properly (e.g. filters, treatment units), flush, and consider a shock chlorinating system. Only commence use of water system once satisfactory drinking water samples are obtained.  For Small Drinking Water System Operators, follow regulatory requirements (O. Reg. 319/08) 
Increase ventilation

  • Where possible, increase the ventilation system’s air intake or open doors and windows. Avoid central re-circulation where possible.
  • Similarly, open windows when in vehicles with others where possible.
Keep staff up-to-date on the evolving situation and applicable health and safety issues

  • Ensure staff know how to report an illness in a timely manner and take action to protect themselves and others when at work
  • Review signs, symptoms, and methods of transmission of COVID-19
  • Ensure staff know when and how to self-isolate should it be required (see Managing Sick Staff fact sheet).
  • Consider having a point person for each shift that can address COVID-19 concerns
  • As with all workplaces, the Occupational Health and Safety Act must be applied.  Safety is everyone’s responsibility under the act and thus all staff should assess and plan to address their tasks with infection control in mind.  Application of R.A.C.E. is recommended:

RRecognize the hazard

AAssess the risk associated with the hazard

CControl the risk associated with the hazard (e.g. Hierarchy of Controls)

EEvaluate the controls

Please be advised, the HNHU is not responsible to address health and safety complaints issued by employees against their employers.  Employees and employers seeking further direction on occupational health and safety measures should consult the Ministry of Labour.