How to Prepare to Re-Open Your Business in Ontario

As businesses start gearing up, ready to reopen after months of closures due to COVID-19, it’s important to know exactly how to reopen. After all, this pandemic has changed just about every aspect of how we conduct business and we can no longer simply go back to the “normal” we had before. 

Here in Ontario, we’re opening up slowly in phases and with new announcements happening daily, it’s best to be flexible and prepared to open at a moment’s notice. 

First, while it might be exhausting to do so, try to keep up with the news. Thankfully, the government has been fairly transparent and all information surrounding reopening is very accessible during this time. You’ll be able to find out when you can reopen and with what restrictions in place by doing so. If you don’t want to have to keep constantly updating the news, setting up a Google Alert might be the best way to go. 

Secondly, the government of Ontario has released sector-specific guidelines for policies that should be in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you fall under one of these sectors, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with these guidelines. They not only help stop the spread of the virus, but they’ll help you to comply with OHSA to protect your employees from hazards.

Third, formalize your policies. Up to this point, policies may have been issued via various emails and as they became necessary. However, before you reopen, it’s a good idea to compile your policies into a central document so all stakeholders can review and adjust their behaviour in compliance. 

Relevant Policies may include: 

  • Sick leave policies if employees present symptoms 
  • Any Work From Home policies 
  • Policies related to reducing contact (physical distancing) 
  • Any policies requiring the use of PPE (personal protective equipment) 
  • Adjustments in Frequency and Thoroughness of cleaning  

Next, communicate your policies. Your policies only work if everyone involved knows about them and can follow accordingly. You might accomplish this through posters listing out the policies throughout your store, outdoor signage listing any new restrictions due to policy changes or an email blast. 

During this time, it might be a good idea for your business to stock up on some basic COVID-19 combating supplies. From plastic barriers, to masks and gloves, making sure that you have enough for your employees is crucial to maintaining a safe work environment. As well, there’s some other simple supplies you’ll need that aren’t as front of mind such as: 

  • Hand soap 
  • Paper towels 
  • Disinfectant 
  • Hand sanitizer (and signs telling people where it is) 
  • Disposable gloves 
  • Face shields 
  • Plastic bags (government policies currently discourage the use of reusable bags) 
  • Fans to increase air circulation 

And finally, once you get the go-ahead to reopen, make sure people know about it! Remember to talk about it on social media, to update your Google Business status and any other places online such as your own website. As well, don’t overlook just a simple sign. With the weather as nice as it is now, why not use lawn signs and flags to indicate to any passing traffic that you’re open? 

By following these steps, you’ll be in a better position to handle conducting business under the new “normal”. While we’re all eager to be back to work, and for businesses, to get revenue flowing in again, it has to be said that safety is the number one priority so no one should be rushing to open without the proper tools in place.