COVID-19 – Guidance for Food Establishments

Last revised/reviewed: January 19, 2021

In response to recent trends that show an alarming increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, the province will return to the modified version of Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen effective Wednesday, January 5, 2022 at 12:01 a.m. for at least 21 days (until January 26, 2022), subject to trends in public health and health system indicators. Learn more about the provincial changes here.


Visit www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca/proofofvaccine for updated guidance on the provincial proof of vaccination requirement for select high-risk indoor settings.


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Food Premises Sector

Food premises are establishments where food is manufactured, processed, prepared, stored, handled, displayed, distributed, transported, sold or offered for sale. They include establishments such as grocery stores, restaurants, cafes, bars, etc.

Step 2 Guidance for all Businesses, Organizations, & Facilities

  • Operate in accordance with all applicable laws, including the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and the regulations made under it.
  • Follow all advice, recommendations and instructions from public health officials.
  • Follow all public health requirements for screening of workers, patrons and essential visitors.
  • Ensure that every person complies with mask/face covering requirements as outlined in Reg. 263/20.
  • Arrange the workplace and lunch/break rooms to accommodate physical distancing of at least 2 metres.
  • Ensure that any lineups for the business/organization are managed to ensure that physical distancing is in place and masks/face coverings are worn.

Capacity Limits

Subject to any other provisions set out in O. Reg. 263/20, the person responsible for a place of business or facility that is open to the public shall limit the number of members of the public in the place of business or facility so that,

  • the members of the public are able to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person in the business or facility; and
  • the total number of members of the public in the business or facility at any one time does not exceed 50 per cent capacity, as determined in accordance with Ontario Regulation 213/07.
  • The 50% capacity limits (mentioned above and below) are determined by taking 50 per cent of the maximum occupant load of the business or facility, or part of a business or facility, as applicable, as calculated in accordance with Ontario Regulation 213/07 (Fire Code), made under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997.
  • Ensure that the capacity limit for the business is posted in a conspicuous place, visible to the public.

Work From Home

“Each person responsible for a business or organization that is open shall ensure that any person who performs work for the business or organization conducts their work remotely, unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site at the workplace.”

COVID-19 Safety Plans

  • Persons responsible for a business or organization that is open to the public shall prepare (in writing) and make available by posting in a conspicuous location, a COVID-19 safety plan, which describes the measures and procedures implemented to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
  • The safety plan shall, as a minimum, describe how the requirements of the regulation and other Orders will be implemented at the business including screening, physical distancing, masks/face coverings, cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and objects, wearing of personal protective equipment and the prevention of crowding.
  • Develop your COVID-19 workplace safety plan | Ontario.ca

Active Screening of Workers*

Persons responsible for businesses and organizations must ensure that all workers (including employees, independent contractors, managers, directors, officers, owners, partners, shareholders, volunteers, students or any other person engaged in the employer’s activity at the workplace) are actively screened for symptoms of COVID-19, in accordance with the provincial screening tool, and that active screening is recorded and documented on a daily basis.

*for the following businesses, active screening is also required for patrons:

  • meeting/event spaces,
  • personal care services,
  • personal physical fitness or sports training,
  • shopping malls,
  • driving instruction (only commercial driving instruction permitted),
  • car dealerships prior to customer test driving of a vehicle,
  • photography studios and services,
  • tour and guide services,
  • businesses that provide teaching and instruction,
  • dine-in (outdoor) patrons at restaurants, bars, etc.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Staff must wear PPE (medical/surgical mask along with eye protection) when providing service or working within 2 metres of a person who is not wearing a mask or face covering (and where no physical barrier exists).

Please note: any exceptions that may apply regarding the mask/face covering requirements in O. Reg. 263/20 DO NOT apply to staff that are required to wear personal protective equipment (i.e., medical mask and eye protection) as outlined in Schedule 1, Section 2 of O. Reg. 263/20.

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Step 2 Guidance for Restaurants, Bars, & Similar Establishments

For full details regarding the restrictions for this food premises, owners, operators and persons responsible for the business are required to review O. Reg. 263/20: RULES FOR AREAS IN STEP 2.

  • No indoor dining may be provided. (Outdoor dining is permitted, please see below.)
  • The person responsible for the establishment must post a sign in a conspicuous location visible to the public that states the capacity limits under which the establishment is permitted to operate.
  • No more than 10 people may be seated together at any table (outdoors) unless everyone seated at the table is,
    • a member of the same household,
    • a member of up to one other household who lives alone, or
    • a caregiver for any member of either household.
  • Patrons must be seated at all times in any area of the establishment in which food or drink is permitted except,
    • while entering the area and while moving to their table,
    • while placing or picking up an order,
    • while paying for an order,
    • while exiting the area,
    • while going to or returning from a washroom,
    • while lining up to do anything described in subparagraphs i to v, or
    • where necessary for the purposes of health and safety.
  • They must open no earlier than 5 a.m. and close no later than 11 p.m., but may provide take-out, drive-through or delivery service outside of those hours.
  • Liquor can only be served between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m.
  • The person responsible for the establishment must actively screen any dine-in patrons in accordance with the advice, recommendations and instructions of the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health before they enter the establishment.
  • The person responsible for the establishment must,
    • record the name and contact information of every patron that enters an area of the establishment, unless the patron temporarily enters 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 for a purpose specified in section 2 of that Act or as otherwise required by law.
  • No patrons are permitted to dance or sing, including by performing karaoke, within the establishment.
  • The active screening and contact tracing requirements above do not apply to a food premise that provides an outdoor dining area and requires all dine-in patrons to order or select their food or drink at a counter, food bar or cafeteria line and pay before receiving their order.
  • Food or drink establishments with dance facilities, including nightclubs, restoclubs and other similar establishments, may open only for the purpose of providing food or drink in compliance with the conditions for restaurants, bars and similar establishments.
  • If live entertainment (music) is performed for spectators at the business or place, the performers must maintain a physical distance of at least 2 metres from any spectators or be separated from any spectators by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.

Outdoor Dining Area

  • If an outdoor dining area at the establishment is covered by a roof, canopy, tent, awning or other element, at least two full sides of the entire outdoor dining area must be open to the outdoors and must not be substantially blocked by any walls or other impermeable physical barriers.
  • If an outdoor dining area at the establishment is equipped with a retractable roof and the roof is retracted, at least one full side of the outdoor dining area must be open to the outdoors and must not be substantially blocked by any walls or other impermeable physical barriers.

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Step 2 Guidance for Supermarkets, Grocery Stores, Convenience Stores, Farmers’ Markets, General Retail, etc.

 Up to 50% capacity permitted where physical distancing can be maintained.

  • The person responsible for the establishment must post a sign in a conspicuous location visible to the public that states their capacity limit.
  • Music must not be played at a decibel level that exceeds the level at which normal conversation is possible (applies to both pre-recorded and live music).
  • If live entertainment (music) is performed for spectators at the business or place, the performers must maintain a physical distance of at least 2 metres from any spectators or be separated from any spectators by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.
  • No indoor dining may be provided.
  • Any outdoor dining must fully comply with the requirements for restaurants, bars and similar establishments.
  • Please see Reg. 263/20 for details re:
    • car/boat test drives,
    • retail vape stores, or
    • retail cannabis stores.

There are some additional resources below.

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