COVID-19 Update: New Ministry of Labour Guidelines for Reopening of Workplaces

by | May 4, 2020 | For Employers

The New Guidelines 

On Thursday, April 30, the Ontario government issued safety guidelines for employers on how to protect employees as the province prepares for a gradual reopening of workplaces. 

There are guidelines for five (5) sectors; namely, food services, manufacturing, agriculture, construction and long-term care. 

The sector guidelines contain recommendations and tips for employers on how to keep workers safe to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on the job. 

To view the sectors that have been affected and to view the guidelines, click here. 

Ontario’s health and safety associations have also developed recommended safety and precautionary measures that employers should begin to prepare to reopen safely. These include: 

  • Ways to ensure appropriate physical distancing 
  • Eliminating pay-at-the-door options 
  • Holding team meetings outdoors 
  • Changes to the physical workplace, such as installing Plexiglas barriers and increasing ventilation
  • Enforcing proper sanitation, such as providing disinfecting agents and frequent handwashing 

These guidelines can be found here

Furthermore, the government has created posters with helpful tips on how to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces. It is recommended that employers hang these posters in their office. These posters offer advice on preventative measures, physical distancing and workplace hygiene. 

These posters can be found here

Workplaces Permitted to Reopen 

As of Monday, May 4, the Ontario government is permitting specific businesses to reopen on the condition that they comply with new health and safety guidelines. These measures will ensure that the workplaces can open safely for the protection of employees, customers and the public. 

The following businesses will be permitted to begin operations: 

  • Garden centres and nurseries with curb-side pickup and delivery 
  • Landscaping 
  • Essential construction projects that include:
    • Shipping, logistics and any other business that supports the delivery of goods and services
    • Telecommunications and digital infrastructure
    • Colleges and universities
    • Childcare centres
    • Schools
    • Municipal projects
    • Site preparation, excavation and servicing for essential construction
  • Contactless car washes 
  • Car dealerships
  • Golf courses (to prepare for opening)
  • Marinas (to prepare for opening) 

To learn more about businesses that are permitted to reopen, click here


The Minister of Labour, Monte McNaughton, announced that an additional 58 people will be hired as labour inspectors. These inspectors will focus on communicating and implementing the COVID-19 safety guidelines and enforcing emergency measures such as physical distancing and closing non-essential businesses. 

The Minister indicated that inspectors may issue $750 fines to workplaces found in non-compliance. 

For over 30 years, Doug MacLeod of the MacLeod Law Firm has been advising employers on all aspects of the employment relationship. If you have any questions, you can contact him at 416-317-9894 or at [email protected]

The material and information in this blog and this website are for general information only. They should not be relied on as legal advice or opinion. The authors make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of any information referred to in this blog or its links. No person should act or refrain from acting in reliance on any information found on this website or blog. Readers should obtain appropriate professional advice from a lawyer duly licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. These materials do not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and any of the authors or the MacLeod Law Firm.



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