Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Measures to reduce COVID-19 in your community
On this page
- Lifting public health measures
- For individuals
- Stay informed, be prepared and follow public health advice
- Make plans and talk about them
- Continue to practise good hygiene
- Stay home and away from others if you’re feeling ill
- Keep practising physical distancing
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects
- Stay home if you have a high risk of serious illness
- Wear a mask or face covering
- Limit non-essential travel
- For communities
- Group living settings
- Businesses and workplaces
- Child and youth settings
- Outdoor spaces
- Cultural and religious gatherings
- Community gathering spaces
- Large group events
- Public transportation
- Remote and isolated communities
- Indigenous communities
- Organizations that serve people experiencing homelessness
Lifting public health measures
The status of the COVID-19 pandemic varies across Canada.
Nationally, we’re seeing positive change from our actions. Public health measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 across Canada are flattening the curve and slowing the spread of new cases.
The effects of COVID-19 vary between and within provinces and territories. Because of that, local governments, working with local public health authorities, may lift or change public health measures at different times depending on where you live.
Your local government will:
- make decisions based on the local situation and the best evidence available at the time
- tailor plans for lifting measures to their regions, including remote and isolated communities
- gradually lift measures, allowing enough time between each step to assess the impact and adjust their plan, if required
- monitor the effectiveness, harms and benefits of specific measures, and then adjust less effective measures as needed
National, provincial and local governments will continue public health efforts to minimize:
- serious illness and death
- disruptions in our society
- the burden on health care resources
It takes more than actions from governments and the health sector to lower the spread of COVID-19. Everyone has a role to play.
We can do our part by:
- understanding how coronavirus spreads
- knowing how to prevent illness
- taking care of our mental and physical wellbeing
With no treatment or vaccine available, actions we’re currently taking in our lives will need to continue to help control the spread of COVID-19. The following core public health practices will help you protect yourself and your community.
Stay informed, be prepared and follow public health advice
Get credible information about COVID-19 from reliable sources. The Public Health Agency of Canada is a reliable source of information, as are provincial and territorial resources.
Continue to think ahead about what you’ll do if you become sick or someone in your family becomes sick and needs care. Plan for how you’ll arrange backup caregivers if you’re a caregiver of children or others. If your work is re-opening, talk to your employer about working from home if you’ll need to care for your family.
Follow the advice of your local public health authority and adjust your behaviours and routines based on their advice.
Make plans and talk about them
Talk to your family, friends and neighbours about what you’re doing to stay healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you live alone, consider setting up an agreement with a neighbour where you’ll check on each other and run errands if either of you become sick.
Think about the type of care you’d want if you became seriously ill. Talk to the people who will decide on your care if you’re unable to. These discussions can help caregivers feel more comfortable and confident in making decisions you’d want.
It’s not always easy to begin these conversations. You can get started with information, tools and prompts from advance care planning.
Continue to practise good hygiene
COVID-19 is a contagious disease. Proper hygiene practices will help lower your chance of getting it or spreading it to others. You should continue to do the following:
- wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol
- cough and sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm
- avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
- dispose of used tissues in a lined waste container and then wash your hands
Stay home and away from others if you’re feeling ill
As local governments lift public health measures, you should continue to stay home and away from others if you have symptoms. If you start to develop symptoms of COVID-19, isolate yourself from others and contact your health care provider or local public health authority. Adjust your behaviours and routines based on their advice.
Wear a medical mask if you’re ill and will be in close contact with others or need to go out to access medical care. If a medical mask isn’t available, wear a non-medical mask or cloth face covering.
Keep practising physical distancing
Keep practising physical distancing as your local government lifts public health measures. Physical distancing minimizes close contact with others in your community.
Things you can do to keep practising physical distancing are:
- avoiding crowded places
- reducing non-essential travel and trips out of your home
- keeping 2 metres away from others when outside of your home
- commuting outside of the busiest hours if you use public transit
- avoiding greetings that include physical contact, such as handshakes
- following your local public health guidance on the number of people that can gather in one place at one time
Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects
In your personal environment, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects. This will help lower the spread of COVID-19.
Frequently touched surfaces and objects include:
- door handles
- bedside tables
- television remotes
Stay home if you have a higher risk of serious illness
Some people have a higher risk of getting seriously ill. Stay at home as much as possible if you:
- are an older adult
- have an underlying medical condition
- have a compromised immune system
Talk with your health care provider about how to protect yourself.
If you have an increased risk of illness and you’re working outside the home, consider working from home if possible.
Ask your family, a neighbour or friend to help you with essential errands, like picking up prescriptions and buying groceries.
Wear a mask or face covering
There are two categories of masks: medical and non-medical (or cloth face covering). These masks and face coverings can help stop us from unknowingly spreading infectious droplets.
Wear a medical mask (if not available, wear a non-medical mask or cloth face covering) if you’re experiencing symptoms and will be:
- in close contact with others
- going out to access medical care
Wear a non-medical mask or cloth face covering to help stop the spread of COVID-19, especially if it’s not possible to consistently maintain a 2-metre physical distance from others. Wear your mask or cloth face covering safely and make sure it fits well.
The advice you receive about wearing a non-medical mask or face covering may vary depending on where you live. This will depend on the rate of infection or spread of COVID-19 in your community. Follow the advice of your local public health authority when it comes to wearing a non-medical mask or cloth face covering.
For more information, refer to how to protect others by wearing a non-medical mask or face covering.
Limit non-essential travel
If you’re planning on travelling outside your province or territory, check to see if your destination has different public health measures.
To limit the spread of COVID-19, we advise avoiding all non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice.
Local governments continue to make public health decisions to lower the spread of COVID-19 in communities. The public health measures they keep in place depend on the COVID-19 activity in their area.
As the spread of COVID-19 slows, governments will use a phased approach to slowly lift restrictions and control the spread of the virus. However, even when gradually lifting the restrictions, there will be an increased chance of COVID-19 spreading.
Planners, administrators and employers must work together to protect:
- the general public
- remote and isolated communities
- vulnerable and most at-risk populations
- people who are at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19
As the restrictions that have been in place are gradually lifted, we will continue to see the transmission of COVID-19 in communities. To lower the chance of spreading COVID-19, local governments will continue to apply public health measures in communities and public settings where people gather.
Group living settings
Group living are settings where many people who aren’t in the same family unit live together. They may live there for a short or long period of time. Examples of these settings include:
- industrial camps
- student residences
- construction trailers
- closed settings, such as:
- residential care
- correctional facilities
- long-term care facilities
- agricultural worker dormitories
- overnight camps for children and teens
- group homes for people with disabilities
- shelters for people experiencing homelessness
These settings may include vulnerable and most at risk populations who have a higher chance for serious illness. You should adapt public health measures for your setting to prevent COVID-19 from entering and lower the chance of it spreading.
Learn more about the measures you can take in group living settings.
Businesses and workplaces
Essential businesses have followed public health measures so they could stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic. Local governments will allow more categories of businesses to re-open if they can follow measures to lower the risk of spread of COVID-19.
COVID-19 can spread in businesses and workplaces. Some workplaces in Canada have had outbreaks. Learn what employers and employees can do to protect workers, their families and the community.
For more information, refer to the following:
- Advice for essential retailers during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Guidance for workplaces and businesses operating during COVID-19
Child and youth settings
As provinces and territories lift or adjust public health measures, child and youth settings need to prepare for re-opening or operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. Child and youth settings need to be aware of risks and put in place measures to lower them. These measures need to take into account:
- the different needs of girls, boys, and gender diverse children and youth
- other cultural, linguistic and social contexts
- the advice, guidance and resources from local public health authority and partners
Work with your local public health and education authorities and partners to consider strategies and options. For more information, refer to the following:
- Provincial and territorial resources for COVID-19
- Risk mitigation tool for child and youth settings operating during the COVID-19 pandemic
Outdoor spaces and outdoor recreational activities are important to our health, well-being and social connections.
Outdoor spaces include:
- dog parks
- outdoor recreation spaces
Lower your chances of becoming infected or spreading COVID-19 by participating in activities where you can keep physical distancing, such as:
- activities you can do safely by yourself
- low-contact sports, like golf or tennis
- activities that only include the people who live with you
Operators of parks, playgrounds, public swimming pools and campgrounds can lower the spread of COVID-19 by:
- limiting large gatherings
- posting signs and monitors at busy locations to encourage physical distancing
- telling people to avoid sharing equipment unless they clean and disinfect it between use
- controlling the number of admissions to facilities to prevent overcrowding
- limiting activities that involve physical contact and only allowing sports that allow for physical distancing
- removing or closing features that encourage people to gather, such as clubhouses (except for washrooms)
- setting up hand hygiene areas if public washrooms are closed, such as hand sanitizer or hand washing stations
- adjusting rules and methods of play to promote physical distancing, as some sports associations have recommended
For more information, refer to the risk mitigation tool for outdoor recreation spaces and activities operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. The tool can help you find out how to lower the risks when using different types of outdoor spaces.
Cultural and religious gatherings
We regularly hold cultural and religious gatherings with friends and family, which can highlight important milestones in our lives, such as:
- birthday parties
- cultural ceremonies
The chance of COVID-19 spreading at these gatherings ranges from low to high, depending on a number of factors.
For more information, refer to our advice on how to reduce the risks at cultural and religious gatherings.
Community gathering spaces
Community gathering places include places of worship, libraries, community and recreation centres, drop-in centres, museums, theatres and cinemas.
The chance of COVID-19 spreading at these spaces depends on the:
- number of participants
- characteristics of the participants
- personal interactions participants may have on site
- measures put in place by event organizers to reduce risk of virus spread
You can lower the spread of COVID-19 in community gathering places by:
- hosting events online or providing event-related resources online
- ensuring attendees can keep physical distancing in your setting
- limiting the number of people in your setting at any one time
- installing physical barriers between employees and guests where possible
- ensuring ill people don’t attend your gathering space or event
- accommodating guests who have a higher chance of getting seriously ill
- cleaning and disinfecting items that people share
- using non-medical masks or cloth face coverings if physical distancing isn’t possible
For more information, refer to the advice on how to reduce the risks for community gathering spaces.
Large group events
Large group events (mass gatherings) are settings or events where large numbers of people may be in close contact. It’s unlikely that governments will allow mass gatherings to take place anytime soon.
Event organizers and planners should speak with their public health authorities for recommendations. You may need to cancel, postpone or change in-person gatherings. You may be able to re-design your event to meet physical distancing guidelines, such as offering virtual or online alternatives.
Public transit services are essential to communities. Crowded public transit can add to the spread of COVID-19. Measures to lower these risks include:
- collecting fares and tolls hands-free
- minimizing shared rides in vehicles, such as taxis and rideshares
- requiring that employees, drivers and passengers stay home when ill
- using non-medical masks or cloth face coverings by drivers and passengers
- providing enough vehicles to prevent crowding, such as adding extra vehicles at rush hours
- cleaning between driver change-overs, in addition to regular cleaning of vehicles and waiting areas
- having passengers sit apart from each other (such as using every other seat) on buses, subways and trains
- installing acrylic/plastic shields for staff at booths and between the driver and passengers
Another measure to reduce crowding on public transit is to avoid non-essential travel during peak commuting hours. Talk to your employer about the possibility of staggered work hours.
For more information, refer to the advice on how to reduce the risks for public transportation and guidance for road transportation workers and passengers (PDF).
Remote and isolated communities
Many remote and isolated communities have adopted strategies to keep COVID-19 out of their community. They’ll likely maintain these strategies for a long time.
If COVID-19 enters these settings, it can spread rapidly. It’s important for community members to use core personal public health practices and community-based measures.
For more information, refer to our guidance for remote and isolated communities.
See the COVID-19 in Indigenous communities page for more information on preparing for COVID-19.
Organizations that serve people experiencing homelessness
People who experience homelessness may have a higher chance of getting COVID-19 or developing complications. This is because they may not be able to access or use traditional services or resources.
Organizations, community health workers and volunteers play an important role in helping prevent the spread of COVID-19 among those who experience homelessness. For more information, refer to our guidance for providers of services for people experiencing homelessness in the context of COVID-19.
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