COVID-19 Update: Meal & Break Periods

Beverly Written by Beverly Leavitt January 15, 2021 COVID-19

According to the Ontario government, the major source of COVID-19 outbreaks is in Ontario workplaces. There is some evidence that transmission may occur during meal and break periods in particular.

The government would like to make sure employers ensure all workers can follow these public health measures to protect themselves and others while working and on break.

According to the guidelines, there is an increased risk of spreading COVID-19 when workers are:

  • Close together
  •  In crowded places
  •  In closed spaces
  •  Exposed for a longer time
  •  Forcefully exhaling

These factors are important to address during break times and working hours.

In addition to having strong policies and procedures for using lunchrooms, change rooms, break rooms, and training, employers should ensure that shared spaces for eating, taking breaks, and changing are well-ventilated and set up to allow workers to maintain physical distance. Some actions employers can take include:

  • Position dining tables, chairs, and other furniture in meal and break rooms to help workers keep at least two metres of distance from each other;
  • Remove furniture from break spaces that would lead to overcrowding if used;
  • Provide more locations for eating, changing, and taking breaks;
  • Provide visual markings to support physical distancing and control the flow of people;
  • Make sure HVAC systems are properly maintained;
  • Choose spaces with windows that open and keep them open as much as possible; and
  • Use any outdoor spaces available to you.

More can be found in the guidelines here.