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Employers & Businesses

Information for businesses and operations during the pandemic.

Last updated: January 26, 2022

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:

  • COVID-19 safety plans: An order from the provincial health officer requires employers to re-activate their COVID-19 Safety Plans. Learn more from WorkSafeBC.
  • Proof of vaccination: You are required to use your BC Vaccine Card to provide proof that you received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine for some social and recreational events, services and businesses. This applies to individuals aged 12 years and older (born 2009 or earlier).
  • Masks: Wearing a mask is required in all indoor public spaces for people age 5 and up (born in 2017 or earlier) regardless of vaccination status. Read about masks in public indoor settings.
  • Events and gatherings: Indoor organized gatherings of any size are not allowed. Indoor events at venues can only have 50% capacity.
  • Bars, nightclubs and lounges that do not serve meals are closed.
  • Restaurants, cafes and pubs can have a maximum of 6 people at each table.

Note: Follow any additional measures that may have been put in place by local public health or in your health region.Learn more about the current provincial 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:

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. 

An order from the Provincial Health Officer requires employers to re-activate their COVID-19 Safety Plans.

This replaces the previous requirement for employers to have communicable disease prevention plans in their workplaces. While communicable disease prevention plans and COVID-19 Safety Plans share some of the same fundamental principles, COVID-19 Safety Plans are formal, written plans with more rigorous controls and are more appropriate for periods of elevated risk, such as the one currently faced by B.C. workplaces by the Omicron variant. 

Learn about COVID-19 Safety Plans from WorkSafeBC

  • Wearing a mask is required in all indoor public spaces for people age 5 and up (born in 2017 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 2-4. 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 Sanitation Plan under the Food Premises Regulation. More information about developing an appropriate sanitation plan.

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: 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 communicable disease spread.

Resources and information about ventilation:

If an employee has symptoms of COVID-19, they should stay home and use the When to get tested for COVID-19 resource or the BC Self-Assessment Tool to see if they need to get tested.

  • If they test positive and are fully vaccinated, self-isolate for 5 days. They can return to work if their symptoms have improved and they no longer have a fever.
  • If they test positive for COVID-19 and not fully vaccinated, self-isolate for 10 days. They can return to work if their symptoms have improved and they no longer have a fever.
  • If not tested, they should stay home until they feel well enough to return to your regular activities.

A doctor's note or test result are not required to return to work.

WorkSafe guidance

Supports for businesses

Industry-specific guidance and information

Posters and reference materials

SOURCE: Employers & Businesses ( )
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