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

Implement a COVID-19 screening policy for staff (i.e. staff are screened using an appropriate screening tool before starting each shift).

Post signage at all entrances that inform individuals on how to screen themselves for COVID-19 prior to entering the building.

Prepare and plan for increases in staff absenteeism.

Follow guidance on Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings.

Consider providing a hand sanitizing station in high traffic areas (if you can keep it stocked).

Put measures in place to ensure physical distancing in common areas. Individuals must wear a mask when they are in a common area and they can't maintain 2 metres from others. Common areas include lobbies, stairwells, elevators, shared bathrooms and laundry rooms. Residential building owners or condo boards may choose to implement their own policies within their buildings..

  • 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.

  • For residents in self-isolation, deliveries should be left outside of their apartment door.

Ensure ventilation system is functioning as intended and filters are clean.

Promote and share public health messages with residents and staff, including:

Can residents leave their apartment units?

If they recently travelled, were exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms, they should complete a COVID-19 self-assessment and act on the recommendations provided (e.g. self-isolate, visit a COVID-19 Assessment Centre to be tested, self-monitor for symptoms, contact primary care provider, etc.).

  • Guidance may vary based on different factors including their COVID-19 vaccination status.
  • If recommendations include self-isolation/stay home, residents can’t leave their apartment unit or access common spaces unless it is for a critical reason (like going to a testing location or for a medical emergency).

Tips for Residents Leaving the Building or Accessing Common Areas

Consistently and strictly follow good hygiene and public health measures including handwashing and physical distancing. The use of masks or face coverings 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

References: 

  1. Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (April 6th, 2020) COVID-19 – Multi-Unit Dwellings/Apartment Buildings
  2. Lambton Public Health (April 9th, 2020) COVID-19-Multi-unit Residential Buildings
  3. National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health (March 31st, 2020) COVID-19 Precautions for Multi-unit Residential Buildings
Eastern Ontatio Health Unit / Bureau de santé de l'Ontario