Multi-Unit Residential Buildings and COVID-19
If you own or operate a multi-unit residential building, it is important to keep yourself, your staff and your tenants safe in this time of COVID-19. Proper screening, cleaning, physical distancing and other measures are essential to reduce the spread of infection.
What Building Operators Should Do
Ensure that all staff who are working and essential visitors:
- Have no symptoms of COVID-19
- Have not been diagnosed with COVID-19
- Have not travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days (even if they have no symptoms)
- Are not a close contact of someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19
- Have not been advised to remain in isolation by the EOHU or another health authority
Prepare and plan for increases in staff absenteeism.
Close all non-essential common areas such as gyms, outdoor playgrounds, party rooms, etc.
In addition to routine cleaning, ensure surfaces in essential common areas are cleaned and disinfected at a minimum twice per day or as they become visibly dirty:
- Use appropriate cleaner and disinfectant as per manufacturer’s instructions (consult the list of acceptable disinfectants).
- If you are unable to buy commercial disinfectant, you can make your own homemade disinfectant.
- Focus on high touch surfaces (e.g. doorknobs, handrails, elevator buttons, buzzer systems, mailboxes, light switches, laundry machines, recycling and garbage chutes handles, etc.).
- Remove items from essential common areas if they cannot be easily cleaned.
- Avoid dusting or sweeping to reduce the risk of making the virus airborne. Use damp cloths or paper towels and wet mopping.
- Dispose of trash in regular waste. Trash cans (in common areas and outdoors) should have working lids and be kept closed.
- Consider providing a hand sanitizing station in high traffic areas (if you can keep it stocked).
Encourage residents to use essential common areas only when necessary and put measures in place to ensure physical distancing. The use of masks or face coverings (non-medical masks such as cloth masks) is strongly encouraged in public areas of the enclosed space.
- Consider posting, at every public entrance to the premises, prominent and clearly visible signage that contains the following message: "Prior to entering, wear a mask or face covering to cover your mouth, nose and chin."
- Limit and post the number of people who can use the elevator at the same time to ensure physical distancing.
- Limit and post the number of people who can use the laundry room at the same time; consider making a schedule or staggering times to use laundry facilities.
- If shared washrooms in common areas must remain open:
- Enhance cleaning with appropriate disinfectants
- Keep them well stocked with soap and paper towel.
- Encourage users to flush the toilet with the lid down when possible.
Deliveries (e.g. groceries, medication or other parcels) should be left in the lobby or outside apartment doors.
- Encourage residents to review and follow these safe home delivery practices.
- For residents in self-isolation or isolation, deliveries should be left outside of their apartment door.
Ensure meetings (e.g. condominium association) or unit viewings (for the sale or rental of a unit) are done virtually.
Suspend non-urgent inspections and repairs.
- If repairs are urgent and cannot be postponed, staff should practice good hygiene and public health measures including handwashing before and after each visit and maintain physical distancing from residents. If possible, residents should stay in a separate room during repairs.
Ensure ventilation system is functioning as intended and filters are clean.
- Changes to building ventilation, temperature, and humidity are NOT required at this time.
Promote and share public health messages with residents and staff, including:
- Instructions for self-monitoring, self-isolation and isolation.
- Guidelines for good hygiene and public health measures such as frequent handwashing and physical distancing.
- Consider implementing a policy requiring residents and visitors to wear a mask when entering or using common areas of the property, such as lobbies, stairwells, elevators, shared bathrooms and laundry rooms.
Can residents leave their apartment units?
Residents CANNOT leave their apartment unit or access common spaces (unless they need medical care) if they:
- Have travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days (even if you have no symptoms), OR
- Have symptoms of COVID-19, even if mild; OR
- Have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days; OR
- Are a close contact of someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days; OR
- Have been advised to remain in isolation by the EOHU or another health authority.
Residents CAN leave their apartment unit and access common spaces if they:
- Have not been diagnosed with COVID-19; AND
- Do not have symptoms of COVID-19; AND
- Have not been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19; AND
- Have not travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days.
Tips for Residents Leaving the Building or Accessing Common Areas
Stay in your unit as much as possible and only use common areas or go outside if it is essential.
- Refrain from visiting or inviting others to your unit, even if they live in the same building.
Consistently and strictly follow good hygiene and public health measures including handwashing and physical distancing. The use of masks or face coverings (non-medical masks such as cloth masks) is strongly encouraged in public areas of the enclosed space.
Avoid or minimize contact with high touch surfaces such as doorknobs and handrails. Wash hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer before leaving your unit and immediately when returning to your home.
Consider using the stairs if possible. If using the elevator, respect posted limits and ensure that you are maintaining physical distancing with others (2 metres/6 feet). You may have to use the elevator one person (or one household) at a time.
Follow these measures if you are using shared laundry facilities:
- Wash your hands before and after doing the laundry.
- Disinfect the controls before and after using the machine.
- Use soap and hot water. Do not overload the machine.
- Dry items completely at the highest temperature setting.
- Disinfect hampers before using it for clean clothes.
- Fold laundry in your unit.
- Keep dryer door closed when not using.
- Avoid shaking out or hugging dirty laundry.
- Do not leave soiled clothing or baskets on top of machines.
- Do not leave cleaning residues in machines that could damage other people’s clothing.
Source: National Collaborating Center for Environmental Health, March 2020
- Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (April 6th, 2020) COVID-19 – Multi-Unit Dwellings/Apartment Buildings
- Lambton Public Health (April 9th, 2020) COVID-19-Multi-unit Residential Buildings
- National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health (March 31st, 2020) COVID-19 Precautions for Multi-unit Residential Buildings