Last updated: September 28, 2020 at 6:05 p.m.

You should get tested for COVID-19 if you have one or more symptoms of COVID-19, you were a close contact of someone who has COVID-19 or you are concerned you may have been exposed to someone who might have COVID-19.

Avoid close contact and keep a distance of two metres (six feet) from others. Everyone has a role to play. The actions you take will protect you, loved ones and those most vulnerable in our community.

Tips to Prevent the Spread

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed:

  • Limit non-essential trips out of your home and follow travel advice
  • Keep two metres (six feet) distance from others
  • Wear a mask or face covering in indoor public spaces and when you can’t keep physical distance
  • Clean your hands often. Use soap and water or an alcohol-based (70-90 per cent) hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow or a tissue. Immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you are feeling unwell
  • Download the COVID Alert app so you can be notified directly if you have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19

Physical distancing means limiting close contact with others. When outside of your home, practise physical distancing by staying two metres (six feet) away from others to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Remember:

  • Stay at home when you are sick, even if your symptoms are mild.
  • Stay within your social circle of 10 family members or friends.
  • Avoid crowded places, playgrounds, play dates, or gathering at the beach.
  • Wash your hands often, and avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve.
  • Greet others from a distance with a smile, nod or wave.
  • Practise self-care, and check-in with family, friends and vulnerable neighbours.
  • Wear a non-medical mask or face covering in indoor public spaces.
  • You still need to practice physical distancing when wearing a mask or face covering.

Safer spaces

  • Continue to work from home, when possible
  • Go out with your social circle for fresh air, exercise and outdoor play
  • Shop and bank online, or shop during off peak hours or use curbside pickup
  • Connect virtually with others for coffee chats, selfies, funny videos and special events
  • If home is not safe for you, reach out for help

Residents of multi-unit buildings

  • Limit your time in common areas and wear a mask or face covering
  • Limit the number of people in elevators to keep two metres (six feet) apart, when possible
  • Wear a mask or face covering and use your elbow to push buttons in elevators
  • For shared laundry areas:
    • Choose a time when it is less busy and keep two metres (six feet) from others
    • Sort and fold clothes at home
    • Wash your hands when you return home
    • Wear a mask or face covering

Exercise and outdoor play

  • Go out regularly for fresh air, exercise or gardening.
  • Take your children outdoors to play. Bring your own toys and sports equipment.
  • Do not arrange play dates or gatherings at the park or beach outside of your social circle.
  • Check the City of Toronto website on safe use of parks and recreational facilities.

Transit

  • Do not use transit if you are sick or self-isolating.
  • Wear a mask or face covering; it is required under a TTC bylaw.
  • Avoid travel during peak hours, when possible.
  • Use your elbow/arm to push buttons/open doors.
  • Wash or sanitize (70-90% alcohol concentration) your hands often, and avoid touching your face.
  • When using taxi and ride share, sit in the back, wear a mask and keep the windows open.
  • Wash or sanitizer your hands when you reach your destination.

Shopping

  • Have a list to keep trips short.
  • Limit to one household member when shopping.
  • Avoid crowded stores, and go back when it is less busy.
  • Use tap to pay rather than handling cash.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands often, and when you return home.

Wearing a mask or face covering in indoor public spaces can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is also a requirement under the?mandatory mask or face covering bylaw in Toronto. This bylaw applies to indoor public spaces, such as stores, mall, restaurants, library, galleries, hair salons and places of worship. Be respectful of others who cannot wear a mask. Some conditions make breathing through a mask difficult.

Consider downloading Health Canada’s COVID Alert app so you can be notified directly if you have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.

Get more tips for the safe use of spaces such as parks, recreational facilities, transit and more. You can also download this information as a PDF.

Activities that Support Physical Distancing

  • The City has also created a resource list of?free, high-quality recreation, active living, arts and culture activities?for all ages to enjoy while staying, playing, and learning at home.
  • ActiveTO is a program that will make more room on neighbourhood streets and major roads so that people can maintain physical distance while outside.
  • CurbTO is a program to help businesses, services, and community agencies support physical distancing outside and inside their buildings while also accommodating increased demand for delivery and pickup services.
  • The CaféTO program?aims to provide more outdoor dining areas to help restaurants and bars create physical distancing for patrons on patios during the summer months.

Resources

Videos

Effective July 7, wearing a mask or face covering is required under the?Mandatory Mask or Face Covering Bylaw?in indoor public spaces. Effective August 5, masks or face coverings are also required in condominium and apartment building common areas.

Wearing non-medical (cloth) masks or face coverings can be an added public health measure for containing the spread of COVID-19 when it is used in combination with frequent handwashing, physical distancing and staying home when sick.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. The infection spreads from close contact with someone with COVID-19 through their respiratory droplets or touching our face with contaminated hands. Respiratory droplets can include coughing, sneezing, talking or even normal breathing. When a person is singing, laughing or talking loudly, the droplets can travel further than two metres/six feet.

People may unknowingly pass the infection to others because they do not have symptoms (asymptomatic) or have not yet developed symptoms (pre-symptomatic). The highest risk for infection is with prolonged close contact.

My Mask Protects You and Your Mask Protects Me

As we are now in Stage 3 of reopening, more people are returning to work, reconnecting, moving around the city and using public transit. This is making physical distancing more challenging, or nearing impossible. The risk of spreading COVID-19 is greater indoors as there is less air flow and ventilation, more crowding, and a greater chance of touching surfaces that have been contaminated by respiratory droplets.

Wearing masks or face coverings indoors helps us keep our respiratory droplets to ourselves to prevent spreading germs to others. There is evidence that cloth masks can reduce the spread of respiratory droplets into the air and landing on surfaces. Jurisdictions that have legislated mandatory masks have seen a decrease in new COVID-19 cases.

The use of masks/face coverings is non-invasive, inexpensive, and can help save lives. Masks may also serve as a visual reminder to everyone that we need to be vigilant and continue to maintain physical distance.

Non-medical Masks or Face Coverings

Non-medical masks or face coverings can help keep your respiratory droplets to yourself and protect others when we are unable to maintain physical distancing. The general public should wear non-medical (cloth) masks or face coverings when going to public places, and when entering enclosed public settings. Non-medical masks or face coverings can be made with household items or purchased materials. It is important to use and clean a mask properly (see below). Using a mask incorrectly can accidentally spread infection to the wearer.

Do not use N95 and surgical masks as they are in limited supply, and are urgently needed for healthcare workers. Also be respectful of people who are not wearing a mask. Some health conditions make breathing through a mask difficult.

Qualities of a Good Cloth Mask or Face Covering

A good cloth mask or face covering should:

  • Be at least two layers of tightly woven cotton or linen.
  • Cover over nose, mouth and chin, and be easy to breathe through.
  • Fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops without gaping or impairing vision.
  • Be comfortable to avoid the need for adjustments when wearing.
  • Maintain their shape after washing and drying.
  • Not contain non-breathable materials such as plastic.

For instructions on making a mask using fabric, a t-shirt or a bandana, visit the Government of Canada website.

Proper Use of a Mask or Face Covering

  • Do not share your mask with others.
  • Wash your hands before putting on and after taking off a mask.
  • Place the mask over your nose, mouth and chin.
  • Avoid touching your face and mask while using it.
  • Change your mask as soon as it is moist or dirty.
  • Do not leave your mask tucked under the chin, hanging from your ear, or on your forehead.
  • Remove the mask by the ear loops without touching the front of the mask.
  • Put used mask in a plastic bag or directly in the laundry bin to be washed.
  • Launder cloth masks with other items using the hot cycle and dryer.

People Who Should Not Use Face Masks

  • Children under the age of two.
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing or cannot remove the mask without assistance.

Use of Face Shields as an Alternative to Masks

A face shield is not an alternative to a mask. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that they “do not recommend use of face shields as a substitute for cloth face coverings. It is not known if face shields protect others from the spray of respiratory particles. The CDC does not recommend use of face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for cloth face coverings.”

Use of Masks or Respirators with Exhalation Valves or Exhaust Valves

Masks with an exhalation valve are not recommended because they may filter dust particles in the air as the person inhales, but they may not filter virus particles or respiratory droplets. This means droplets from a person can be spread in a room, reducing the benefit of the mask. Respirators with exhaust valves are also not recommended. These are intended to make the respirator more comfortable for the person who is wearing it, but they can also allow respiratory droplets to spread in room.

Use of Clear Plastic Masks

Clear plastic face masks that extend below the chin and wrap around the sides of the face may be considered when communicating with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, to allow them to lip read. However, clear plastic face masks are not recommended for general use as they do not cover the nose, mouth and chin without gapping and cannot be properly cleaned and disinfected between uses.

Download this information as a PDF.

Resources

Videos

There is no evidence that COVID-19 is spread by food or food packaging. Wiping down containers or packaging is not necessary. In general, you can lower your risk of infection by following safe food handling practices.

It is important to:

  • Wash your hands before and after handling groceries, take-out bags and containers
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces after handling groceries and packaging
  • Wash reusable shopping bags
  • Wash vegetables and fruit under cold running water

Shopping for Essentials:

The following recommendations can help you protect yourself, and prevent the spread of COVID-19 when you are shopping. Also, consider downloading the COVID Alert app so you can be notified directly if you have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.

Stay home if you are sick

  • Do not go out when you are sick or if you are self-isolating.
  • Limit contact with household members.
  • Visit our website to learn what to do if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed.

Limit the number of shopping trips

  • Order supplies online, if possible.
  • Minimize the number of trips for groceries, medication and other essentials, to once a week.
  • Keep track of the essentials you already have at home. Try to be creative and use what you have before deciding to go out (e.g. try new recipes).
  • Offer to pick-up essentials for neighbours, especially vulnerable community members.
  • Plan before going out:
    • Make a list of the items that you need to limit the amount of time spent out during your visit.
    • Buy enough for one to two weeks at a time, buying more than this can create strain on supply chains and result in temporary shortages.
    • Try to do all of your shopping at one location.
    • Check the stores website or call in advance to find out when the best time to visit is (i.e. off-peak hours) and to find out about special hours for seniors and vulnerable individuals.
    • Allow for extra time. Stores may limit the number of people entering at a time, and may have a lineup outside the main entrance.
    • Be patient and treat store employees and other customers with kindness and respect.

Safe shopping practices

  • Practice physical distancing:
    • Reduce crowding by not bringing extra people with you when going shopping.
      • Households should designate one person to do the shopping, if possible.
    • Keep two metres (six feet) apart from others:
      • Follow physical distancing markers and visual aids (e.g. signage, floor markings) where provided
      • Avoid crowded aisles.
      • Be courteous to others in front of you by allowing them to complete their selection of items before moving forward.
      • If you have to ask a staff member a question, remember to keep your distance.
      • Don’t crowd the cashier station, and keep your distance from the person in front of you.
      • Wait until the person in front of you has finished collecting their items before unloading yours at the cashier station.
    • Greet others from a distance with a nod or wave.
  • Practice hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette:
    • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 15 seconds.
    • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, if your hands are not visibly soiled.
      • If possible, carry hand sanitizer and use it before entering and immediately after exiting the store.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze into a tissue. Immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve.
    • Avoid touching your face.
    • Use disinfectant wipes:
      • If provided in the store, wipe down the cart or basket handles and discard the wipe immediately.
      • If possible, bring your own disinfectant wipes.
    • Practice general food safety while shopping:
      • Avoid touching items that you are not going to buy.
        • Visually inspect fruit, vegetables and other items prior to selection to ensure they are fresh.
      • Canned food should be free of dents, rust and bulges.
      • Packages should be intact with no ripped or torn packaging.
      • Avoid purchasing bulk food items that are not prepackaged (e.g. candy, nuts).
      • Use contactless payment whenever possible.
      • Never leave food in a hot car as warm temperatures can help bacteria to grow.
      • If reusable bags are permitted, bag your own groceries to minimize touching by other individuals.
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces in your vehicle if you touched them before washing/sanitizing your hands (e.g. steering wheel, door handles, radio dials).

Gloves

  • Gloves are not a substitute for proper hand hygiene, and are not recommended when shopping.
  • If you choose to wear gloves, it is important to change/remove them when they become dirty and after exiting the store.
  • Avoid touching your face when wearing gloves.
  • Discard gloves in a waste receptacle immediately after removing.
  • Wash and/or sanitize your hands immediately after removing gloves.

Face masks and coverings

  • You must wear a mask or face covering when you are in indoor public spaces such as stores, as per a new City of Toronto bylaw. Some exceptions apply, including children under the age of two, and people with medical conditions that make wearing a mask difficult. Learn about the proper use and disposal of masks.

Putting away your groceries

  • Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after returning home, handling groceries, bags, food packaging/containers and putting away food.
  • Wash fresh fruits and vegetables, under cold running water.
  • Refrigerate or freeze perishable foods promptly.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces after unpacking your groceries (e.g. countertops).
  • Clean and wash re-usable grocery bags before every use.

Using food delivery services

  • Food should be delivered and received with minimal or no contact.
  • Prepay for food with a credit card when you order over the phone, or online.
  • Delivery should be contactless:
    • Orders should be delivered to your front door or a designated area.
  • Maintain two meters (six feet) when receiving a delivery.
  • Check the following upon receiving a food delivery:
    • Food should be delivered to you as quickly as possible to ensure it is received at the proper temperatures: “hot food” should be hot and “cold food” should be cold.
    • Food packing should be intact and sealed to prevent leaking and protect the food during transit.
    • Food packaging should be labelled.
    • Check for signs of freshness (i.e. no spoilage and mould).
    • If in doubt, throw it out, or contact the store you purchased the food from.
  • After receiving take-out deliveries, transfer the meal to a plate and discard the packaging immediately.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after handling take-out bags/packaging and before eating.

General food safety practices at home

  • Prevent cross contamination:
    • Keep fruits, vegetables and ready to eat foods separate from raw meats.
    • Wash your hands before and after handling or preparing food.
  • Cook/reheat food properly to avoid foodborne illness.
  • Use a probe thermometer to check that the food is cooked to the proper internal temperature.
    • Cooking and reheating food to recommended internal temperatures for beef, poultry, pork should kill the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Visit our website to learn more about food safety at home.

Food Access

  • Seniors and vulnerable residents who are in self-isolation, feeling ill or need help obtaining food, can call 211 for assistance.
  • Visit our website for more information about food access strategies and delivery services.

Download this information as a PDF.

Resources:

Consensual sex can be a way of dealing with anxiety or fulfilling and expressing our needs for intimacy. A safe and pleasurable sex life is an important part of mental health and wellbeing. But is it safe to have sex during COVID-19?

Safer sexual practices may prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), but it will not prevent infection from COVID-19. COVID-19 spreads through direct contact with respiratory droplets (spit) of someone who is infected with the virus when they cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can spread up to two metres or six feet. The virus has also been found in semen (cum) and feces (poop). It is not yet known if the virus can be found in blood or vaginal fluids. It may also be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

How to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and still enjoy sex

  • Your safest sex partner during the COVID-19 pandemic is yourself. Solo sex, also known as masturbation, does not spread COVID-19.
  • Consider consensual sexting, virtual sex, video dating, or chat rooms.
  • Only have sex with consensual partner(s) that are part of your social circle.
  • If you usually meet sex partners online, are polyamorous with people who are not living in the same house or are part of your social circle, or make a living having sex, consider video dates, sexting or chat rooms instead of meeting people in person.

Protect yourself and your partners when having sex

  • Skip having sex if you or your partner are feeling unwell, have symptoms of COVID-19 or if either of you have been exposed to someone who has COVID 19.
  • Consider downloading Health Canada’s COVID Alert app so you can be notified directly if you have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.
  • Wash your hands before and after having sex, whether alone or with a partner.
  • Be creative and find ways to include using masks during sex, especially with a partner you do not live with.
  • Avoid or limit kissing and saliva exchange and do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Consider sexual positions that avoid being face-to-face.
  • During oral or anal sex, use condoms, gloves or other barriers to reduce contact with saliva and other fluids.
  • Use condoms to protect yourself from STIs.
  • Clean sex toys and consider covering them with a condom. Do not share sex toys with others.
  • Avoid having sex if one partner has a health condition that can lead to more severe illness from COVID-19.

Learn more about safer sex during COVID-19.

 

You can safely perform CPR during COVID-19 and reduce the spread of the virus by following these hands-only CPR guidelines, which were developed by Toronto Paramedic Services.

On December 31, 2019, Chinese health authorities identified a new (or novel) coronavirus (referred to as COVID-19) through a series of reported cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, China.

Coronaviruses are a large family of common viruses which are typically associated with mild illness, similar to the common cold and spread easily between people. There are however, strains of coronaviruses which have caused more severe illness, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). These tend to have more difficulty spreading from person to person.

COVID-19 is most commonly spread from an infected person through:

  • Respiratory droplets shared when you cough or sneeze. These droplets can spread up to 2 metres, or 6 feet.
  • Close, prolonged personal contact (defined as being within 2 metres for 15 minutes or more), or having physical contact, such as hugging someone.
  • Touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

While COVID-19 can spread from aerosols generated during medical procedures and certain dental procedures, airborne transmission is not a common way the virus is spread. COVID-19 is not known to be spread through airborne transmission in community settings, ventilation systems or through water.

Resources

French Resource:

Know the Law

Learn how emergency orders, directives and bylaws impact you, including the Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health’s directives for residents of Toronto issued on April 1.

Information in French

For information in French about COVID-19, please visit the Government of Ontario’s website and Public Health Ontario portal.