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Employers & Businesses

Information for businesses and operations during the pandemic.

Last updated: September 13, 2021


The advice below is based on current recommendations and may change. Please check back often for recent updates from the Office of the Provincial Health Officer, Ministry of Health, WorkSafeBC, and BC Centre for Disease Control.

Important updates:

  • Masks: As of August 25, 2021, wearing a mask is required in all indoor public spaces for people age 12 and up (born in 2009 or earlier) regardless of vaccination status. Read about the PHO order on masks in public indoor settings.
  • Proof of vaccination: Some events, services and businesses are now required to check a person's proof of vaccination for access to their venue or space. Businesses can find information on proof of vaccination requirements at: gov.bc.ca/VaccineCard-Businesses

Guidance for Step 3 

B.C is in Step 3 of BC's Restart:

  • Employers should develop communicable disease prevention plans as described in the WorkSafe BC restart plan and guidance.
  • Daily health checks are no longer required.
  • Indoor seated organized events can take place with 50 people or up to 50% capacity, whichever is greater, with safety plans in place,
    • Patrons should remain seated and avoid mingling with other tables.
  • Outdoor seated organized events can take place with 5000 people or up to 50% capacity, whichever is greater, with safety plans in place.
  • Nightclubs and casinos may open with capacity limits.
  • Indoor gyms can operate at normal capacity.
  • Outdoor fairs, festivals and indoor walk-through trade shows may operate.
  • Table limits in restaurants, pubs and other premises are removed. Banquet halls can also operate. For further details, visit the Food businesses page.
  • Liquor services return to normal operations.
  • Retail businesses and farmers' markets may return to normal operations.
Note: Additional COVID-19 restrictions are in place for certain regions. Learn about the restrictions.

Prevention measures for all businesses

Some events, services and businesses are now required to check a person's proof of vaccination for access to their venue or space. 


Businesses can find information on proof of vaccination requirements at: gov.bc.ca/VaccineCard-Businesses


Retail stores, farmers’ markets, food banks, personal services (salons, barbers) are examples of places that don’t require proof of vaccination.


Getting immunized against COVID-19 by getting two doses of the vaccine is the most effective way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. 

Employers should be transitioning from COVID-19 plans to Communicable Disease Plans. Understand the risks of flu, other respiratory viruses, norovirus and other communicable diseases. Create, implement and put into practice policies, practices and measures to reduce these risks, and review plans to keep them up to date.


Communicable disease plans should address 

  • a worker illness policy that supports staff to stay home when ill, 
  • hand hygiene, 
  • vaccine promotion,
  • cleaning and sanitation program, and
  • adequate ventilation systems.

Review WorkSafe BC guidance.

These requirements have been added to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation

  • Wearing a mask is required in all indoor public spaces for people age 12 and up (born in 2009 or earlier) regardless of vaccination status. Read the PHO order on masks in public indoor settings. Exemptions include:
    • People who cannot wear a mask because they cannot put on or remove a mask on their own.
    • People who may not be able to wear a mask due to psychological, behavioural or health conditions. 
  • Masks may be removed temporarily in indoor public spaces to identify the individual wearing a mask, while eating or drinking at a designated location, while participating in a sport or fitness activity, or while receiving personal or health services that require masks to be removed.
  • Masks are optional for children aged 2-12. Those under the age of two should not wear masks.
  • More information about use of masks can be found on the BCCDC and WorkSafe sites.
  • A review of the efficacy of masks can be found here (from the National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health).

When customers refuse to wear masks in your store it puts workers and other customers at risk.
  • Private businesses have a right to refuse entry to customers not wearing a mask. Ask these customers to shop online or to choose curbside pick-up options.
  • Provide masks at the entrance for those customers who have forgotten their mask.
  • Employers have a duty to accommodate customers and workers who may not be able to wear masks for disability or other medical reasons. If a worker or customer shares these as reasons why they cannot wear a mask you should accommodate per the information provided by the BC Human Rights Tribunal
WorkSafeBC is recommending all employers maintain a clean environment through routine cleaning processes that are appropriate for their industry and work practices. 
Questions to be addressed in the Communicable Disease and Prevention Plan are:
  • What is the cleaning schedule at your workplace?
  • Who is responsible for cleaning?
  • Do cleaners have appropriate supplies and training to do their job effectively and safely?
Food businesses are required to have a Food Safety Plan and a Santitation Plan under the Food Premises Reguation. More information about developing an appropriate sanitation plan.

At step 3 of the pandemic, we recommend normal cleaning practices are followed with additional cleaning of high touch surfaces. Document and follow cleaning practices that will reduce risks of communicable disease and food-borne illness. This may include more frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces, such as POS systems, bulk bin handles, garbage can lids, elevator buttons, high touch surfaces on bottled water filling machine, etc.

For further information about surface (fomite) transmission risk, see this evidence review from NCCEH: Fomites and the COVID-19 pandemic: An evidence review on its role in viral transmission

Physical distancing: Workplaces must ensure all customers and workers maintain a safe physical distance. Physical distancing is established by providing a two metre distance between people or by providing a barrier that stops transmission of respiratory droplets from one person to another. Workplaces must be especially vigilant in shared settings like break rooms and kitchens. 


In Step 3, physical distancing restrictions have been eased for businesses. During this phase physical distancing measures, such as plexiglass barriers, are recommended if they do not interfere with normal business operations or customer relationships.


Ventilation: a well ventilated workplace will limit transmission of some communicable diseases, such as the flu and COVID-19. Employers are required to review the ventilation within their workplace to limit commuicable disease spread.


Resources and information about ventilation:

What workers should know:

  • You are not expected to disclose the results of your COVID-19 test or any other medical test to your employer.
  • You must not go to work if you are ill.  If you feel ill:

STEP ONE:

STEP TWO:

  • When you are asked to self-isolate or quarantine by public health
    • You must stay home for the full period even if you have a negative COVID-19 test. This can be 10 days if you are not fully immunized and are a close contact. Follow self-isolation guidance.
  • If you feel ill and then get a COVID-19 test and your test is
    • Negative: do not go back to work until you feel well. Continue self-isolation
    • Positive: do not go back to work for at least 10 days AND until you feel well and follow self-isolation  guidance.  

What employers should know:

  • Do not let employees come to work sick. Part of your COVID-19 Safety Plan is to implement a daily worker health check. This should be documented and available for inspectors' review.
  • You do not have the right to ask workers for a copy of their test result (e.g., text message result or other statement).
  • You should not ask workers for a doctor's note clearing them to work.

You will be contacted by public health if there is a reason to investigate a COVID-19 case or cluster in your premises. Your local public health department will identify anyone who may have been in contact with the person who tested positive for COVID-19. They may also visit your premise to offer specific advice. Public health may not contact you if the exposure is low risk for you, your visitors, or patrons. 



WorkSafe guidance

  • General and industry-specific guidance on protecting the health and safety of employees is being developed in sector specific guidance 

Supports for businesses

Industry-specific guidance and information

Posters and reference materials

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