COVID-19 safety

State of emergency and stay-at-home order

The Provincewide Shutdown (Government of Ontario) remains in effect.

On January 12, 2021, Ontario declared a province-wide state of emergency (Government of Ontario). A stay-at-home order is in effect requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise, or for essential work.

Enhanced public health and workplace safety measures (Government of Ontario) are also in effect and are anticipated to be in place until at least February 11, 2021.


Locally, we have seen very few cases among school-aged children and at this time the benefits to in-person learning outweigh the risks. We are fortunate that schools remain open for in-person learning in Sudbury and districts. As always, through case and contact management, we monitor our local situation and context to inform our decisions and recommendations.

To continue to keep students, staff, and communities safe, the following new health and safety measures will be put in place for in-person learning:

What’s on this page?

What does it mean to be COVID-safe?

Being COVID-safe means assessing your actions, thinking things through, and taking deliberate precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Handwashing, physical distancing, wearing a mask or face covering, covering your cough or sneeze, and staying home if you are feeling sick are simple behaviours you can practise to be COVID-safe.

Making informed choices will help to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. To reduce your risks and stay COVID-safe, always follow public health recommendations and avoid the three C’s (Health Canada) as much as possible; closed spaces, crowded places, and close contact.

Avoid closed spaces, crowded places, close contact

Closed spaces

You are more likely to contract and/or spread the virus if you are indoors, especially in closed spaces with poor ventilation. Enjoying activities outdoors or in large open areas is a COVID-safe way to get out and participate in your community.

Crowded places

Areas that don’t have large numbers or people gathered are a lower risk option when considering where to spend time. Going out during off-peak times is a COVID-safe way to limit the number of people you are interacting with and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Close contact

Only allow close contact like shaking hands and hugging with members of your household. Keep a physical distance of at least 2 metres from everyone else. A physical distance of 2 metres is about the length of one hockey stick. If you are unable to maintain your physical distance, wear a mask or face covering for added protection.

Learn more about the rules for public gatherings and social circles (Government of Ontario) and key tips for living safely with COVID-19.

How can you be COVID-safe? (Rules to live by)

With so many announcements about COVID-19—from stages of reopening to personal precautions—it can be hard to know what rules are currently in place.

The following COVID-Rules-to-Live-By will keep us going for the long haul and will go a long way to protect our health, our health care system, our schools, and our jobs and economy.


1. Stick to your household contacts

As of Saturday, October 3, 2020, at 12:01 a.m, the Government of Ontario is pausing social circles and advising that all Ontarians allow close contact only with people living in their own household and maintain two metres physical distancing from everyone else. Individuals who live alone may consider having close contact with another household.

2. Keep 2 metres distance from anyone not in your household contacts

Continue to practise physical distancing in all settings. For example, people at your table in restaurants and bars must be those in your household. Stay 2 metres away from everyone else, especially when it’s not possible to cover your face.

3. Use your face covering in enclosed indoor public spaces and when you can’t keep 2 metres distance outdoors

Keep a face covering (i.e. mask, scarf, bandana, etc.) with you so you can use it when you need it.

4. Avoid gatherings of any size

Provincial gathering limits may vary, but public health measures stay the same. Ask yourself if the gathering is necessary and if so, assess your risk and determine how you can make the activity safer.

5. Limit non-essential travel

Area residents are being exposed to the virus through travel outside our region. Ask yourself if the travel is necessary and if so, plan ahead on how you will keep COVID-safe.

6. Wash your hands

Wash your hands often and when visibly dirty, for 15 seconds. Make a habit of carrying hand sanitizer with you.

7. Stay home when ill

The easiest way to reduce transmission is to stay home. If you have a COVID-19 symptom, get tested.

8. Get tested

If you have a COVID-19 symptom, if you are concerned that you may have been exposed to COVID-19, or if you are at risk of exposure to COVID-19 through your work, contact an assessment centre and get tested. Remember, you can still be infected after a negative test. A negative result should not be treated as a free pass to let your guard down. Continue to take precautions.

9. Work remotely

Continue to work remotely, where possible. Reducing our time in the workplace reduces the possibility of introducing the virus to new environments. If you cannot work remotely, follow public health guidance for workplaces.

10. Practise kindness, patience, and gratitude—we are all in this together

Changing our behaviour and doing things in new ways takes planning and practice. Think ahead. Assess your risk and live by the rules.

These COVID-rules-to-live-by are simple yet powerful actions that will get us through this pandemic safely.

Changing our behaviour and doing things in new ways takes planning and practice. Think ahead. Assess your risk and live by the rules. The Top-10-COVID-Rules-to-Live-By are simple yet powerful actions that will get us through this pandemic safely. Learn more about each of the rules and download our 11 x 17″ poster (PDF, 607 KB).

Together we learn, together we adapt, and together we will be proud of how we successfully navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Your actions matter

Your actions matter to keep yourself and others COVID-safe. It is important to think ahead and understand risks for COVID-19. Risk levels may vary based on activity.

Reduce your risk by connecting closely only with people living in your own household. Keep a distance of 2 metres and wear a mask or face covering with everyone else. Consider participating in lower-risk activities and following public health tips for going out safely (Health Canada).

Think about the risks

COVID-19 is still circulating at different levels throughout the community and the province. To protect yourself and others, the safest options are to avoid non-essential travel, and as much as possible, limit outings to essentials like going to work or school, picking up groceries, attending a medical appointment, or engaging in outdoor physical activity. For all outings, continue to practise COVID-safe behaviours like distancing and wearing a face covering.

Here are a few examples of lower risk activities you may choose to do:

  1. Going for a walk in your neighbourhood
  2. Backyard BBQ with your family
  3. Visiting community parks and beaches with public health measures
  4. Sightseeing in your personal vehicle
  5. Visiting family members outdoors while practicing physical distancing and wearing a face covering and careful handwashing

Some higher risk activities include:

  1. Gathering at indoor spaces such as movie theatres, restaurants, and bars
  2. Crowded public transportation
  3. Indoor parties

We recognize that some activities are not optional. It’s important to continue to follow public health measures by washing your hands, keeping a distance of 2 metres, and wearing a mask or face covering when doing essential activities such as:

  1. Grocery shopping
  2. Getting the mail
  3. Going to the pharmacy
  4. Visiting a health care provider
  5. Commuting to work using public transportation
  6. Essential travel for work

If you get symptoms, even mild ones, do not participate in any activities and make an appointment to get tested.

Thinking about our actions and changing our behaviours in simple ways will help protect our health and our communities.

Safe Holidays and celebrations

Staying connected with loved ones and friends is important but COVID-19 does not take holidays. While we continue to navigate a global pandemic, celebrations have to look a little different. When planning, hosting, or attending a holiday celebration think about how you can modify your activities in a COVID-safe way.


At this time, you should only have close contact to the people you live with, even when celebrating or recognizing occasions when you would normally gather with others.

Limiting contacts and in-person interactions reduces the risk of spreading COVID-19. While indoor gatherings are not permitted, if you choose to gather outdoors, keep in mind the following tips to reduce risk:

Holiday Season Safety (Christmas, Hannukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice)

Many traditional holiday celebrations pose a higher risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus. This holiday season it’s more important than ever to take steps to be COVID-safe and limit the spread. Follow provincial (Government of Ontario) and local recommendations to celebrate safely this winter.

Shop safely

There are many things you can do to limit the spread of COVID-19 while shopping this year.

Holiday travel

Thinking about holiday travel? Be aware that COVID-19 is still circulating at different levels around the province. The safest options are to stay in the area of your home community or region and consider non-travel related celebrations. Avoid travel from areas of higher virus transmission to areas of lower transmission (for example from Yellow-Protect to Green-Prevent).

For those who need, or choose, to travel:

For anyone travelling this holiday season, talk with your family about what you have been doing in the 14 days before travelling. Try to reduce your number of close contacts for the two weeks before you go and after you return. Think about how you can celebrate with loved ones in a way that protects everyone.

Overnight guests

The best way to prevent the spread of the virus is to celebrate the holidays with members of your household. If you live alone, you can consider having mutually exclusive close contact with one other group of household members. Reduce the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 by limiting non-essential travel. If you have an overnight guest during the holidays, here are a few tips to reduce risk of spreading the virus:

Keep a list of your guests handy in your phone or on a notepad. This will be helpful in the event Public Health needs to conduct contact tracing.

Celebrating at school

Celebrating together is an important way to promote connectedness at school. Consider the following ideas to make sure your classroom activities are limited to individual cohorts and are COVID-safe.

Workplace and office celebrations

When socializing and connecting with your colleagues this holiday season, remember to stay COVID-safe. Consider the following when planning activities for your workplace:

Find ways to limit the spread of the virus and have a happy holiday season with public health measures in place.

Santa Photos

Thinking about your annual holiday photo with Santa? This year, it will likely look a little different. We encourage you to mark the occasion while being COVID-safe. Consider the following activities as possible alternatives this year:

Compassion and kindness

We can all agree that COVID-19 has been hard for everyone, and we also know that some groups feel it more than others. This includes people in our communities living on low income, having precarious employment, and having difficulty finding safe and affordable housing.

The holidays are a time to think about how we can make a difference in the lives of others. This year consider a new tradition like donating money, time or items to a charity, cause or organization rather than giving gifts. Your kindness and compassion can go a long way.

If you are facing challenges this year, including being alone for the holiday season, there are a number of agencies and resources that can help you.

Stay informed and be prepared

Canadians’ best defense against COVID-19 is to stay informed and be prepared. Anyone can post anything online. It’s important to think critically about posts to decide if it’s truthful and safe. Here are some tips to help you decide whether information is worth considering:

The following are examples credible sources of information.

For more information and credible resources, visit our COVID-19 resources page.

This item was last modified on January 14, 2021