COVID-19 - Niagara is under a provincewide stay-at-home order. Learn about the COVID-19 vaccination and service disruptions.

COVID-19 Guidance for the Community

Keeping Ontario Safe

Niagara is under a provincewide stay-at-home order

Restrictions and measures

Niagara Region Public Health and Emergency Services is closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a rapidly evolving situation and we'll continue to update information as it becomes available.

The health and well-being of our residents is our top priority. We work daily with local hospitals, primary care, emergency services, the Ministry of Health, Public Health Ontario, and other provincial and federal partners in response to this new virus.

COVID-19 Vaccination

COVID-19 is still spreading in Niagara. It's important that we all follow public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Book your vaccine as soon as you're eligible. See who can book a vaccine in Niagara and learn about the vaccine.

Frequently asked questions


  • What do the Provincial restrictions mean for me in Niagara ?

    Niagara is under a provincewide stay-at-home order. This means we must remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes only, such as:

    • Groceries or pharmacy
    • Work or school
    • Health care
    • Outdoor exercise
    • Helping vulnerable people

    Continue to limit your close contacts to people in your immediate household. If you live alone, you can join one other household.

    Learn more about the restrictions. Shopping malls, retail stores, and food and drink premises in Niagara must follow additional measures described in Section 22 orders.

  • What age of children should be wearing a face covering in an indoor public space?

    As of Oct. 2, 2020, provincial regulation requires children age three years and up to wear a face covering, unless they are exempt. Not everyone can wear a mask and many disabilities are invisible. There's no requirement for people to prove their condition or disability.

    The Province of Ontario amended the Ontario Regulation 364/20: Rules for Areas in Stage 3. As a result, the age of exemption for wearing a face covering is two years of age or younger. Where the requirements of the provincial order conflict with the requirements of the Niagara Region face covering by-law (By-law 2020-46), the requirements of the provincial order prevail. 

  • What is my personal responsibility to help keep my family and community safe?

    We must all do our part to keep each other, our families and our communities safe. Staying healthy through this pandemic depends on our collective efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

    When you're offered a vaccine, take it. Find out who can book an appointment in Niagara.

    Continue to maintain a two metre physical distance from others, wear a face covering if you can't maintain physical distancing, and frequently clean or sanitize your hands

    If you get sick, stay home and get tested.

    Stay local, so you don't bring back infections from elsewhere. Support small businesses, shop local and look for products that are locally grown and made.

    You may not go into public areas, go for a walk or for a leisurely drive if:

    • You returned to Canada in the last 14 days. You're legally required to self-isolate according to the Federal Quarantine Act.
    • You're self-isolating because you have any (one or more) COVID-19 symptoms. You must stay home from work, school and public areas.
    • There's an individual in your home that is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and has been referred for COVID-19 testing. You (the household member, even if you don't have any COVID-19 symptoms) must stay home from work, school and public areas until the test result for the symptomatic individual in your home comes back negative. If the test result comes back positive, Public Health will follow-up.
    If you're over 70 years of age or have underlying medical conditions and / or a compromised immune system, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health recommends only leaving your home for essential reasons. This means only leaving home or seeing people for essential reasons. Where possible, you should seek service over the phone or online and ask for help from friends, family or neighbour with essential errands.

    Let's work together to successfully beat COVID-19.

  • I need personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies and physical distancing prompts for my business, where can I buy them?

    Niagara businesses looking to get masks, face shields and other personal protective equipment to manage the risks of COVID-19 should visit the Niagara PPE Provider Directory to help you find what you need.

  • Should my prevention practices change based on the municipality I live in?

    No. We're seeing COVID-19 in every municipality. We're all in this together and we all need to take precautions to protect ourselves and our community.

    Regardless of where you live in Niagara, it's important for all community members to continue doing their part in preventing the spread of COVID-19 by following these simple steps. COVID-19 doesn't respect municipal boundaries or land borders. Our COVID-19 statistics show what municipality confirmed cases live, but this doesn't necessarily mean this is also where they were exposed.

    It's also important for all community members to monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19, even if you live in a municipality with lower case numbers. If you have even mild symptoms of COVID-19, self-isolate and contact your health care provider or our COVID-19 Info-Line to speak with a public health professional.

    Watch this video where Dr. Mustafa Hirji, Medical Officer of Health (Acting), explains the municipal data as part of the COVID-19 statistics in Niagara webpage.

  • Should I be covering my mouth and nose (face coverings) in public?

    Yes. On Oct. 2, the Province of Ontario amended Ontario Regulation 364/20: Rules for Areas in Stage 3. This regulation contains new requirements on face coverings and other restrictions. See Ontario's latest updates to make sure you're in compliance.

    Visit our face coverings page for Regional by-law details. Learn how to create, safely clean, wear and remove your face covering, as well as review frequently asked questions about face coverings.

  • Can I wear a face shield or a plastic mouth shield instead of a face covering (non-medical mask)?

    Provincial and federal messaging does not state for the public to wear a face shield or a plastic mouth shield as a substitution for a face covering.

    Face shields are intended to be used by health care workers and worn in addition to other personal protective equipment. A face covering creates a complete or near-complete barrier on the sides of the wearer's face. A face shield is open on the sides which allows particles and aerosols to enter and exit.

    Plastic mouth shields are not on the Health Canada medical device licence product list for personal protective equipment. As a non-medical mask it has significant gaps, particularly around the nose and top of the mask. It does not fit closely to the face and provides inadequate protection from particles and aerosols.

    Wearing a face / mouth shield alone does not meet the requirements of the Regional by-law. A face shield may be worn in addition to a face covering if desired.

    Watch this video on the difference and why face coverings are so important.

  • Is wearing rubber gloves while out in the public effective in preventing COVID-19?

    No. Regularly washing your bare hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer offers more protection against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.

    You can still pick up COVID-19 contamination on rubber gloves. If you then touch your face, the contamination goes from your glove to your face and can infect you.

    Gloves are recommended for specific situations like caring for sick individuals or to prepare some food safety. If you decide to wear gloves:

    • Clean your hands before putting gloves on and taking them off
    • Don't touch your face with gloves on
    • Don't cover your cough or sneeze into hands with gloves on
    • Gloves should be removed with care to avoid contact with the outside of the gloves
    • Always put gloves and other home health care waste in a plastic lined garbage and tightly tie the bag closed. Learn more about disposing your waste.
  • How long does the coronavirus live on surfaces?

    It's not certain how long COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Preliminary information on COVID-19 suggests that the virus may live on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days depending on:

    • Temperature
    • Type of surface
    • Humidity of the environment

    High touch surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Clean your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or hand sanitize. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

    Products shipped within or from outside of Canada could also be contaminated. However, because packages usually take days or weeks to be delivered, and are shipped at room temperature, the risk of spread is low. There is no known risk of coronaviruses entering Canada on parcels or packages.

  • Who should self-isolate?

    You must self-isolate if you fall under one of the following:

    • Start to develop symptoms (see specific guidance for children and adults)
    • Are living with a household member that has symptoms and is being sent for COVID-19 testing
    • Are a close contact of a positive case with COVID-19
    • Are a laboratory confirmed case with COVID-19
    • Are required to do so under the Quarantine Act due to travel outside of Canada.

    Learn how to quarantine at home during COVID-19 if you're a Canadian crossing the border daily to attend school in the United States.

    Watch this video where Dr. Hirji explains the difference between self-isolating and co-isolating in a household.

  • Should I avoid contact with pets or other animals if I am sick with COVID-19?
    As a precaution, Public Health Ontario recommends you restrict contact with pets and other animals while you're sick with COVID-19, just like you would other people. This includes petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.

    When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you're sick. Service animals are permitted to remain with their handlers.

    If you're sick with COVID-19 and must care for your pet, wash your hands before and after interacting with your pet(s), and wear a face covering.

  • Can I watch someone else's pet?
    As long as the pet owner is asymptomatic, you can watch someone else’s pet. It's advisable to clean your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or hand sanitize every time you handle the pet.
  • What if I am caring for someone with COVID-19?

    The only people in the household should be those who are responsible for providing care to the sick person.

    People who are not taking care of the sick person should make arrangements to live somewhere else until the sick person is better. If this is not possible, other people in the home should stay in another room or be separated from the sick person.

    • Take care of yourself. Monitor yourself for any signs of illness, and separate yourself immediately if you're staring to feel sick with a fever, new cough or shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.
    • If you begin having symptoms, contact your health care professional or Niagara Region Info-Line immediately at 905-688-8248 and press 7, then press 2.
    • Clean your hands often. Alcohol-based hand rub / sanitizer is preferred. However, plain soap and water is acceptable if alcohol-based hand rub isn't available. If hands are visibly soiled, clean them with plain soap and water immediately.
    • Wear personal protective equipment (PPE), gloves, mask and eye protection, while providing care or in the same room as the sick person
    • When you walk out of the sick persons' room, remove PPE in this order to reduce the risk of getting germs on your hands or face:
      • Remove gloves, wash your hands.
      • Remove eye protection
      • Remove your mask by holding only onto the ear loops or ties (do not touch the front of the mask that was over your face) and throw your used mask into a covered, plastic lined garbage can and wash your hands
      • Clean eye protection with a cleaner / disinfectant as per manufacturer's instructions or place into a container for later cleaning / disinfection
      • Clean your hands again
  • Is Niagara Region Public Health and Emergency Services contacting the close contacts of Niagara's confirmed cases?
    Yes. Public health professionals are working directly with the close contacts of all laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases in Niagara. They're providing close contacts with medical direction.

    Watch this video where they explain the contact tracing process Public Health performs with every positive COVID-19 case from Dr. Hirji and Sandra, a nurse from the infectious disease program.

  • What healthy habits should I be practising to protect my family from getting germs or spreading germs?
    Everyone should be following these recommendations to protect yourself from COVID-19.

    Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces daily.

School and child care

  • Where can I learn about screening and symptoms for child care and school?
  • Do all students and school staff need to wear face coverings at school?

    The decision regarding masks / face coverings was made by the Ministry of Education.

    • Students in Kindergarten are encouraged, but not required to wear a non-medical / cloth face covering in school, including on school transportation
    • Students in Grades 1 to 12 must wear a non-medical / cloth face covering in school, including:
      • Hallways and during classes
      • On school transportation
      • Outdoors, where physical distance cannot be maintained
    • School staff and essential visitors must wear medical masks provided by the Ministry of Education

    Not everyone can wear a mask and many disabilities are invisible. Exemptions are given for those who have health or other conditions that prevent them from wearing a face covering. If you would like to request a face covering exemption for a child, contact the school principal. Niagara Region Public Health doesn't give exemptions.


  • I just got home from travelling outside of Canada, what should I do?

    Travellers who have returned from anywhere outside Canada are required by law to:

    • Comply with the Quarantine Act
    • Self-isolate for 14 days
    • Stay at home and avoid close contact with others, including those in your home
    • Call Niagara Region Public Health COVID-19 Info-Line at 905-688-8248 press 7, then press 2 or your primary care provider's office if you experience symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, new cough or difficulty breathing
    • Call ahead before visiting any health care provider and let them know about your travel history and symptoms so they can ensure that they use proper infection control measures
  • I just got home from travel within Canada, do I need to self-isolate?

    Individuals and families who arrive or return to Ontario during the provincewide shutdown should self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. Travel out of province should be for essential purposes only.

    If you have concerns about an exposure to the virus while travelling, we recommend you speak to your health care professional or call the Niagara Region Public Health Info-Line at 905-688-8248 or 1-888-505-6074.

  • Is it safe to travel within Ontario?

    Stay home. Travel outside your region should be limited to essential purposes only.

General information

  • What do I need to know about variants in Niagara?

    All viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19, mutate over time. A virus with one or more mutations is a variant. Some mutations can change the characteristics of a virus, such as how it spreads, making it a variant of concern. COVID-19 variants of concern include:

    • B.1.1.7 - first identified in the United Kingdom
    • B.1.351 - first identified in South Africa
    • P.1 - first identified in Brazil
    • B.1.617 - first identified in India

    You can see Niagara's daily case count for these variants.

    We're concerned about these variants because they:

    • Appear to spread more easily and quickly than other variants
    • Increase risk of severe illness and death

    All variants may increase the risk of re-infection for people who already had COVID-19.

    We're learning more about the effectiveness of vaccines against the variants. Studies are showing that our vaccines:

    • Are effective against B.1.1.7
    • May be less effective against B.1.351, P.1 and B.1.617

    Actions you take to prevent COVID-19 will protect you against variants. Get vaccinated and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

  • I have been tested for COVID-19, when can I return to work?

    If you were tested as a result of having COVID-19 symptoms, even if they were mild symptoms, you must self-isolate while awaiting your test results.

    Individuals must self-isolate for at least 14 days:

    • After returning from international travel regardless of test results
    • Since the last exposure to a case of COVID-19 regardless of test results

    If you received a positive test result:
    Anyone with a positive test result will be contacted by Public Health to determine the period of self-isolation. In general, there is a minimum 10 day self-isolation period after symptoms started.

    If you received a negative test result:
    You can return to work when one of the following conditions are met:

    • It has been 24 hours since symptoms have gone away OR
    • 10 days after symptoms started, whichever is shorter. You also must not have a fever without use of fever reducing medications, such as Advil, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, and be feeling better.

    If you have travelled internationally or had contact with a case, you will still need to self-isolate for at least 14 days from your return to Canada or your last contact with the person with COVID-19, even with a negative test result.

    It's important to remember that a COVID-19 test is only a snapshot of your health on the specific date and time the swab was taken. No testing is perfect and a negative result doesn't mean you haven't been exposed to COVID-19. If your symptoms worsen, another test may be required and it's important to contact a health care provider.

    You can return to work, but self-monitor if you:

    • Chose to be tested for COVID-19, but you didn't have symptoms (you were asymptomatic), you just wanted to know your result status AND
    • You have had no known close contact with a positive case of COVID-19 AND
    • No travel history outside of Canada in the past 14 days AND
    • You haven't been told by Public Health to self-isolate
  • Who do I call if I have a concern around the face covering by-law not being followed?
    During normal business hours, concerns around enforcement should be directed to your municipality's by-law office. After 4:30 p.m., please call Niagara Region's dispatch line at 905-984-3690 or 1-877-552-5579. Do not call 911. Regional or local by-law enforcement or Niagara Regional Police Services may respond to reports of significant or ongoing non-compliance.
  • I have a pre-existing health condition (e.g. allergies, asthma, migraines and diarrhea) but my employer has asked me to get tested for COVID-19. What should I do?

    Some of the mild symptoms of COVID-19, such as a runny or congested nose, headaches or diarrhea can be attributed to other pre-existing health conditions.

    It's important to seek guidance from a health care provider or self-refer for testing at a Niagara Health COVID-19 Assessment Centre if you have even one mild symptom associated with COVID-19. There is specific guidance for children with symptoms.

  • How many Niagara residents have been tested for COVID-19?
    In Niagara, we have many health care providers doing COVID-19 testing, and unfortunately, Ontario has no central repository to know exactly how many tests have been done in each local region.

    Niagara Health does the majority of Niagara's COVID-19 testing at their assessment centres. Niagara Health's testing numbers don't account for the testing done by other doctor's offices in our community, for example in:

    • Long-term care homes
    • Retirement homes
    • Hospice care
    • Or by a mobile paramedic team that travels to peoples homes who are unable to visit a testing site

    Also, some Niagara residents seek testing outside of Niagara. For example, West Niagara residents are tested at the Stoney Creek Assessment Centre.

    We work with our health care partners to test anyone who might be a case of COVID-19, even if they have unusual or mild symptoms. We want to find every case of COVID-19 in Niagara so that we can isolate them, isolate their contacts and stop every chain of transmission.

    Community members who have symptoms of COVID-19 should self-isolate and contact their health care professional or self-refer for testing at an assessment centre. See specific guidance for adults and children with symptoms.

    If there are remaining questions, call our COVID-19 Info-Line to speak with a public health professional by calling 905-688-8248, then press 2.

    Community members who have symptoms of COVID-19 should self-isolate and contact their health care professional or call our COVID-19 Info-line to speak with a public health professional by calling 905-688-8248 press 7, then press 2.

    For more information about testing in Niagara, we encourage you to watch this video from Dr. Hirji.

  • Am I at risk for COVID-19 from mail, packages or products?
    After collecting mail from a post office or home mailbox, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer. If you want to be extra cautious, retrieve the package / envelope 24 hours after delivery.

    Learn more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about safe handling of deliveries and mail.

  • I live outside of Niagara. Can you help me?

    We encourage you to call your local public health agency. The COVID-19 recommendations in Niagara may be different from where you live. Recommendations can vary based on the demographics of each region and the Medical Officer of Health leading the COVID-19 response.

  • Why are the COVID-19 numbers reported differently by various sources?
    Results posted by Niagara Health may differ from the results posted on our Niagara Region Public Health COVID-19 webpage or posted by the Ontario Ministry of Health:

    • Due to the time of day when data is reported
    • Statistics reported by Niagara Health are for persons tested by Niagara Health. Their results do not include persons tested elsewhere in Niagara (for example through primary care) and may include persons who reside outside of Niagara
    • Niagara Region Public Health reports only results pertaining to Niagara residents

    Our COVID-19 webpage is updated daily at noon.

  • How do I access my COVID-19 lab results?

    To access your lab results, visit testing and lab results for COVID-19. Watch this informative video to learn how to find your COVID-19 test results.

  • What is the severity of COVID-19?

    Across the globe, we're seeing 80 per cent of cases having mild to moderate illness. Elderly people and those with underlying medical conditions are often experiencing more severe illness.

  • How is COVID-19 transmitted?

    The virus transmits from person to person through coughing and sneezing, just like the common cold or flu.

  • Why is flu activity in Niagara so low?

    Niagara Region Public Health monitors flu (influenza) activity. The number of cases of the flu has remained low so far this year because:

    • The public is getting vaccinated more than in past years
    • People are following the public health measures recommended to slow COVID-19, such as cleaning your hands, physical distancing, and wearing a face covering
    • There's been a dramatic drop in travel

    However, there are also years where we don't see much flu until December or January, so we should all take precautions and remain vigilant to keep flu low while we're busy fighting COVID-19.

  • Does the COVID-19 test detect influenza too?

    Yes, depending on which test is used. Your health care provider will pick the test that's right for your health needs.

    Some of the tests used to detect COVID-19 also detect other respiratory viruses. One of them is influenza, commonly called the flu. Other tests detect only COVID-19.

    Some of the symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the flu, and it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. You may need a COVID-19 test to help confirm a COVID-19 or influenza diagnosis.

    All flu cases and COVID-19 laboratory-confirmed cases are reported on our website.

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