Restoring Safe Services
 


Workplace Guidance for Business Owners

Information has been developed to support businesses permitted to operate as per Manitoba's Pandemic and Economic Roadmap for Recovery, while reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 among employees, volunteers and customers. This page provides overarching advice applicable to all businesses.

On this page:




Assessing the Risk

Employers/business owners should conduct a risk assessment when determining the specific public health actions related to a workplace/business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Employers/owners are encouraged to do a workplace walkthrough and:

  • develop a plan for various scenarios for workers in and out of the workplace, such as what to do if staff become ill while at work;
  • review all tasks performed in the business to identify any possible risks. This includes those where workers interact with each other or the public or are involved in work activities where recommended physical distancing is not achievable for extended periods of time. Determine if some aspect involves particular risk and remove it where possible. It may be determined that some aspects of the business should not be performed;
  • look at how services could be provided in different ways, such as on-site, other locations, remotely or virtually; and
  • review the flow of work processes, workers, and customers through your facility to reduce contact between workers and customers. This includes:
    • considering all areas of congestion and installing markers to direct workers or customers to flow in one direction only;
    • considering areas where line-ups may form outside of the site;
    • noting the location of high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, railings and elevators, and shared surfaces, computers screens, tools and equipment;
    • ensuring access to washrooms where people can wash their hands with soap and water;
    • determining the best places to provide a 60 per cent or higher alcohol-based hand sanitizer and tissues/garbage containers in common areas;
    • considering closing high-traffic areas;
    • installing signage to remind people to maintain a physical distance of two metres/six feet;
    • closing items if you are not able to clean them frequently, such as water fountains;
    • assessing any risks associated with all tasks performed in the business, and developing a plan to reduce the risk of COVID-19 in the workplace, including:
      • asking customers not to visit if they are sick;
      • requiring staff to stay home if they are sick;
      • making physical changes to the workplace, such as installing barriers (Plexiglas, curtains) between worker stations, between workers and the public and between customers and staff; and
      • considering changing how services are provided, such as offering delivery or curbside pick-up.

See the Public Health Agency of Canada Risk Assessment tool for an overall approach to conducting the risk assessment of the workplace. This tool includes guidance from the World Health Organization and other public health agencies that reflect current scientific evidence and expert opinion.


  • Review current, job-specific training requirements.
  • Review worker training requirements, particularly in situations where employees are completing unfamiliar job tasks.
  • Ensure emergency contact information is current for all employees.
  • Employees, managers and employers all have a role to play in reducing the risk of COVID-19. This document outlines each set of responsibilities in different scenarios during the pandemic.

  • Remove barriers to employees staying home when sick, including:
    • reviewing sick leave and return to work policies removing requirements for doctor’s (sick) notes to encourage employees to stay home when ill and avoid an increased risk of exposure;
    • considering continuing pay for employees during isolation periods to remove financial incentive for workers to attend work while ill.
  • Assign employees who are at increased risk of serious illness from COVID-19 (e.g., people with a weakened immune system, living with a chronic disease or aged 60 years or older) to job tasks that lower their risk of exposure.
  • Allow employees to work from home and avoid frontline/public-facing work, or use increased protection measures, such as protective personal equipment, for interactions with others).
  • Suggest employees and volunteers review screening information in the provincial self-screening tool before leaving for work.




Controlling the Risk

When COVID-19 hazards cannot be completely eliminated, businesses need to consider implementing changes to the way people work. This can include changes to work procedures or implementing training to help reduce the risk of employees or customers becoming sick.

Notify employees and volunteers of the steps being taken to prevent the risk of transmission of infection, the importance of their roles in these measures, and post this information in areas where employees and volunteers can refer to them. Do not make determinations of risk for COVID-19 based on race or country of origin and be sure to maintain confidentiality if an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19.

Reassure employees and volunteers that public health officials will conduct a public health investigation in the event an employee or volunteer is confirmed to have COVID-19 while at work during the time they were infectious. If any additional measures need to be taken at the workplace, public health officials will notify the workplace directly and provide advice.


  • Consider changing hours of operation or job rotation/shifts (in the case of work camps, this could include keeping workers for longer and aligning changeovers so that workers aren’t coming on and off site frequently).
  • Space out shifts to ensure adequate cleaning/disinfection can occur.
  • Encouraging off-hour shifts for workers who require public transportation to decrease exposure risk during busy rush hour times.

 


  • Ensure regular work groups continue to work together to minimize the number of contacts for each worker.
  • Ensure regular work groups are well-documented to ensure contacts can be quickly identified in case a worker tests positive for COVID-19.
  • Ensure workers use the same workstations or seats (if driving in a vehicle with another person) and use equipment dedicated to that worker.
  • When indoors, ensure ventilation systems are working properly, and open windows as weather permits.
  • Consider using barriers between wash basins and urinals.
  • If there are workplace showers, consider staggering use or implementing partitions so only one person showers at a time. Showers will need to be cleaned and disinfected after each use.
  • Identify an area that an employee can self-isolate in and develop a plan, should they become ill while at work.

  • Actively discourage the congregation of people and limit the areas where people gather or frequent. In situations where people congregate, ensure no more than 10 people gather in a common area, and that they maintain a two metre distance. This includes designated smoking areas, if applicable.
  • Minimize tables and remove chairs in lunchrooms or meeting rooms to limit the number of workers per table (for example, one chair per table).
  • Kitchen/cafeterias can make takeout and package meals for pickup, but must close buffet/self-serve options and ensure minimal contact with servers/cashiers. Use cashless or no-contact payment to the greatest extent possible.
  • Consider postponing workplace events and celebrations, especially with people bringing or ordering food.
  • Consider using outdoor spaces or a rotation of employees to use their individual personal vehicles for breaks or lunches.
  • Post the limit of the number of people in each area--even at sinks, in hallways, wash areas and bathrooms).
  • Monitor occupancy levels to allow employees, volunteers and customers to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres, except for brief exchanges.
  • Implement waiting room management strategies, including asking customers to wait in a car (where applicable), to ensure people maintain a two metre distance.



Workplace Precautions

When COVID-19 hazards cannot be completely eliminated, businesses need to consider making physical changes to the workplace to ensure physical distancing and hand hygiene practices are maintained in order to reduce the potential for transmission.


  • Posting signs in multiple locations (external and within the premises) to give employees, volunteers and customers information on proper hand hygiene, cough etiquette, screening and physical distancing protocols. Several printable resources including posters and factsheets are available online at:

https://www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/resources/index.html https://sharedhealthmb.ca/covid19/providers/posters/


  • Maintain a single point of entry, and ensure entry into the facility or place of business, including lines, are regulated to prevent congestion.
  • Suggest employees and volunteers review screening information in the provincial self-screening tool before leaving for work.
  • Large workplaces may consider designating several points of entry into workspaces by different work groups. This will allow the area to be closed off for cleaning/disinfecting without disrupting processes if a worker is identified as COVID-19 positive.
  • Ensure a 60 per cent or higher alcohol-based hand sanitizer or a portable hand wash station is available at the entrance/exit for patron and staff use.
  • Patients and people attending with patients must sanitize hands upon entry to the facility.

  • Remove any unnecessary high-touch surfaces or items that cannot be easily cleaned, such as magazine racks, newspapers, and toys.
  • Close on-site play areas in waiting rooms.
  • Ensure each worker has their own equipment. Avoid sharing pens/paper, computers or paper unless it is disinfected between users.
  • Close public-use items, such as water fountains, onsite snack bars, coffee bars and other confectionery style counters.



Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) and Non-Medical Masks


Businesses should not rely solely on personal protective equipment to reduce the risk of COVID-19 in the workplace. The general recommendations of staying home when sick, physical distancing, good hand hygiene, and proper respiratory etiquette remain the most important and effective measures.

In some workplaces, personal protective equipment may be used to protect workers and customers. This should be used based on a risk assessment that considers both the risk associated with a specific task/activity as well as the risk of COVID-19.

Ideally, the use of personal protective equipment should be done with the advice of an organization’s occupational health and safety office/safety or health committee/safety and health representative. However, most businesses will not require personal protective equipment above what was required before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The safe use of personal protective equipment relies on a worker’s understanding of how to use it safely. If it is not used safely, personal protective equipment may:

  • give workers a false sense of security;
  • increase risk if workers don’t use consistent and appropriate techniques of putting it on and taking it off; and
  • increase risk because workers may touch the face more frequently.

If employers choose to provide protective personal equipment, they must provide also training to workers on when protective personal equipment should be used, how they should put it on and take it off, and how to clean, store or dispose of it.

During a pandemic, the most commonly used protective personal equipment outside a health-care facility includes the use of masks and gloves.


A mask can reduce the chance that others are coming into contact with your respiratory droplets, in the same way as practicing cough etiquette by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or coughing or sneezing into your sleeve.

Employees can wear medical masks if physical distancing of two metres can’t be maintained and exposure is greater than 10 minutes. If medical masks are not available, employees can wear a non-medical mask to cover their mouth and nose to prevent respiratory droplets from spreading to others or landing on surfaces.

If you choose to wear a face mask, you must do the following:

  • Wash your hands immediately before putting it on and immediately after taking it off.
  • Practice good hand hygiene while wearing the mask.
  • Ensure your mask fits well (doesn't gape).
  • Do not share your mask with others.
  • Avoid touching the front of the mask, or changing a mask multiple times in a shift unless it is damaged, damp or visibly soiled.

Face masks can become contaminated on the outside, or when touched by your hands. Avoid touching your face mask while wearing it and change your mask as soon as it is damp or soiled. To clean non-medical mask directly into a bag or into the washing machine, launder your mask on a hot cycle and dry it thoroughly. For information about the safe use of non-medical masks, visit Health Canada.

NOTE: The regular use of respirators (e.g. N-95 respirators) are not routinely recommended, except in health-care settings when particular high risk procedures are being performed or in other industries when respirators are used regularly.

For information about the safe use of non-medical masks, visit Health Canada.


Gloves are not routinely recommended. Gloves are only recommended when workers will be in direct contact with a sick person, or a surface or environment that may be contaminated. Gloves must not be worn between customers or after touching contaminated objects in the environment. Ensure workers dispose gloves properly and perform hand hygiene after removing gloves.

For information about the safe use of gloves, visit the Public Health Agency of Canada.


Eye protection/face shields are only to be used when required for the work, but may be considered in higher risk situations such as when working closely (less than 2 metres) with another person for greater than 10 minutes.

If a two metre distancing cannot be reliably maintained between individuals in the workplace:

  • minimize these interactions to be as brief as possible (under 10 minutes);
  • use barriers, where possible;
  • increase ventilation, where possible;
  • increase environmental cleaning and hand hygiene;
  • consider grouping workers into smaller work groups (they work together only and do not mix with others);
  • consider using non-medical masks (such as cloth face coverings) or medical masks and gloves as required during those interactions, depending on the setting



General Guidance for Staff and Customers

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve, this information is subject to change and is not intended to exempt employers from existing workplace health and safety requirements. Under the Workplace Safety and Health Act, employees have the right to refuse work that they reasonably believe is a danger to their safety and health, or that of another person.


Good hygiene will provide significant protection from COVID-19. Businesses should ensure a 60 per cent or higher a portable hand wash station is available at entrances and exits for employee, volunteer and patron use.

Information should be posted in multiple locations, reminding employees, volunteers and customers to:

  • Wash their hands often with soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds, or use a 60 per cent or higher alcohol-based hand sanitizer. People should clean their hands when they enter and exit the building, before and after they eat, and after using the washroom.
  • Employees and volunteers should be encouraged to take frequent breaks to clean their hands.
  • Cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or cough or sneeze into their sleeve. Ensure boxes of tissues and plastic-lined garbage bins are available for use by employees, volunteers and customers, and include signage instructing people to clean their hands.
  • Avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid sharing personal items (such as cups/dishes/cutlery and cigarettes), office equipment or supplies, including electronic devices (such as phones, tablets and laptops).
  • Reinforce the message to staff that anyone ill with cold-like symptoms MUST NOT be in the workplace.
  • Ensure staff are given information about safe work procedures, physical distancing, how to avoid touching their face/eyes/nose/mouth, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and protective personal equipment (when it is required/putting on/removing/care/cleaning/disposal/fitting).
  • Ensure staff know procedure they must follow if they develop symptoms while at work. Staff should:
    • cover their face with a non-medical mask if possible;
    • practice appropriate hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette;
    • notify their manager;
    • arrange to leave work and go home immediately, and avoid public transportation (bus, taxi, ride sharing);
    • maintain a two metre distance from others as they leave; and
    • contact Health Links - Info Santé for information about testing.
  • Once the sick individual has left, staff should clean and disinfect all surfaces and areas they may have touch.

  • Provide employees and volunteers with information about physical (social) distancing.
  • Post external signs indicating COVID-19 physical distancing protocols, along with floor markings, where service is provided or lines form.
  • Maintain a single point of entry and ensure entry into the facility or place of business, including lines, are regulated to prevent congestion.
  • Implement waiting room management strategies, including waiting in a car (where applicable), to ensure people maintain a two metre distance.
  • Actively discourage the congregation of people and limit the areas where people gather or frequent. In situations where people congregate, ensure no more than 10 people gather in a common area, such as a lunch or locker room, and that they maintain a two metre distance.
  • Monitor occupancy levels to allow employees, volunteers and customers to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres, except for brief exchanges.
  • Increase spatial separation and distance between workstations and shared spaces.
  • Encourage cashless or no-contact payment to the greatest extent possible.
  • Close public-use items, such as water fountains, onsite snack bars, coffee bars and other confectionery style counters.
  • Where feasible and practical, consider using outdoor spaces. When indoors, ensure ventilation systems are working properly, and open windows as weather permits.
  • Install Plexiglas or other form of physical enclosures or barriers to separate employees and customers, particularly in instances where a two-metre distance cannot be consistently maintained.
  • If a two-metre distance cannot be reliably maintained between individuals in the workplace:
    • Minimize these interactions to be as brief as possible.
    • Use barriers, where possible.
    • Increase ventilation, where possible.
    • Increase environmental cleaning and hand hygiene.
    • Consider grouping workers into smaller work units.
    • Consider using medical or non-medical masks (e.g., homemade cloth masks) during those interactions, depending on the setting.
    • Workers with direct public access can use medical masks if available. If medical masks are not available, non-medical masks can be used.
    • Where there is no direct public access, the above measures should be utilized to reduce risk and the number of workers they are exposed to. Non-medical masks can be used by the worker.

  • Ensure there is a routine regime in place for overall sanitation of the workplace, including frequently cleaning and sanitizing washrooms.
  • Ensure that all staff responsible for cleaning are trained in the proper handling and use of cleaning products and that they have appropriate personal protection equipment, such as gloves, for use while cleaning.
  • Discard equipment, instruments and/or materials that cannot be disinfected between customers and sanitize shared surfaces, tools and equipment before/after use as well as in between users.
  • Remove any unnecessary high-touch surfaces or items (magazines, newspapers, toys) that cannot be easily cleaned from common areas, such as break rooms and waiting areas.
  • Regularly clean workstations and objects with disinfectants that are touched frequently, such as doorknobs, handles, elevator buttons and railings. This includes regularly disinfecting electronic devices, such as phones, tablets, laptops and payment devices, with an alcohol (70 per cent) wipe. Businesses are encouraged to increase the frequency of cleaning workstations and worksites to at least two times per day.
  • Provide cleaning supplies for employees to clean and disinfect their workspaces.
  • Limit the number of incoming deliveries to those that are deemed essential.
  • Remind employees and volunteers not to touch their face and to clean their hands after handling and/or unwrapping deliveries.

  • Suggest employees and volunteers review screening information in the provincial self-screening tool before leaving for work.
  • Do not allow customers who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 to enter the premises.
  • Employees, volunteers or customers identified as symptomatic should be instructed to call Health Links -Info Santé (204-788-8200 or 1-888-315-9257).
  • In situations where appointments are required, customers should also be screened by telephone before an appointment is booked, and again upon arrival.
  • Emphasize that employees must stay home if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19(such as cough, fever, runny nose, sore throat, breathing difficulties). I
  • Information about what employers can do to help employees who are experiencing symptoms can be found at: https://www.gov.mb.ca/asset_library/en/coronavirus/workplace_responsibilities.pdf.
  • Encourage employees and volunteers to remain current with information related to COVID-19 by regularly accessing manitoba.ca/COVID19.
  • Reassure employees and volunteers that public health officials will conduct a public health investigation in the event an employee or volunteer is confirmed to have COVID-19 while at work during the time they were infectious. If any additional measures need to be taken at the workplace, public health officials will notify the workplace directly and provide advice.
  • Do not make determinations of risk for COVID-19 based on race or country of origin and be sure to maintain confidentiality if an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19.
  • Notify employees and volunteers of the steps being taken to prevent the risk of transmission of infection, the importance of their roles in these measures, and post this information in areas where employees and volunteers can refer to them.

Signs should be posted in multiple locations, providing employees, volunteers and customers with information on proper hand hygiene, cough etiquette, screening and social distancing.

Several printable resources including posters and factsheets, are available online at: www.manitoba.ca/covid19/resources/index.html and https://sharedhealthmb.ca/covid19/providers/posters/.