Symptoms, treatments and prevention

Transmission of the virus by ingesting food has been ruled out. In addition, the coronavirus cannot grow on food.

It is possible to contract COVID-19 by touching a surface or object where the virus is found and then bringing your hand to your mouth, nose or eyes, but this is not the primary means of transmission.

It is important to always follow the basic rules of hygiene, which include washing your hands thoroughly before eating and cooking, washing food thoroughly before eating, as well as coughing or sneezing into your elbow.

The COVID-19 pandemic is associated with virus transmission from person to person. There is no indication that animals play a major role in the spread of the disease. However, some cases of transmission between humans and animals have been identified. Furthermore, animals exposed to the virus are comparable to other surfaces that may be contaminated. Reported cases of animal infections are generally associated with the virus being transmitted to the animal from its human owner, often cats and sometimes dogs. There have been no reported cases of virus transmission from a pet to a human.

However, it is likely that mink, infected by people, in turn infected employees at affected farms in the Netherlands. The case of mink is exceptional because these animals are very sensitive to the virus. At mink farms, the virus is sometimes transmitted from humans to mink, which subsequently transmit it among themselves, and then can retransmit it to humans.

Other pets or farm animals were able to be infected following inoculation with the virus in the laboratory. This is the case for ferrets, hamsters, rabbits, and a small share of bovines and swine. The results This hyperlink will open in a new window. indicate that bovines and swine do not transmit the virus and that the tissue used for human consumption is free from the virus. Attempts to infect poultry have failed. These data are often based on a small number of animals exposed to very high doses of the virus. They therefore must be interpreted with care.

The risk of being infected through contact with an animal is generally considered low. Application of the following measures reduces the risks of virus transmission between humans and animals:

Certain situations call for specific measures:

  • People with symptoms of COVID-19 and those following public health authority self-isolation instructions must avoid contact with animals.
  • Professionals who cannot avoid contact with animals belonging to infected owners must follow the applicable recommendations, relying on the measures for veterinary care workers This hyperlink will open in a new window., for example.

Because COVID-19 is spread from person to person, it is not currently recommended to have animals tested, except in exceptional circumstances or in the context of research activities.

If you are concerned about your animal’s health, get in touch with your veterinarian. Discuss your concerns with them, but also other known illnesses that can affect animals. There is limited knowledge about which animals are likely to be infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Veterinarians with specific questions about animal health or public health can get more information by calling 1-844-ANIMAUX.

CONSUMERS

To obtain food, it is recommended to people 70 years of age or older that they use home delivery services or ask a friend or relative to do the shopping for them.

If this is not possible, they can go to the site while always following the health instructions that apply to the entire population. People 70 years of age or older should go shopping during low-traffic hours or take advantage of the reserved time slots offered by certain merchants.

Québec consumers are urged to buy local. By doing this, they support local producers, processors and businesses and contribute to economic vitality and ongoing activity in the sector.

Consult the Le Panier bleu This hyperlink will open in a new window. website.

Together, through their choices, businesses and consumers promote the diversity of Québec’s slate of food products.

  • Choose products from Québec when making your purchases. Various markings make it easy to identify these products in store. You can find out more on the Aliments du Québec This hyperlink will open in a new window. website;
  • Shop in local grocery stores or directly at local agricultural or food processing businesses. Le Panier bleu This hyperlink will open in a new window. is a reference platform that helps you locate local businesses. You can also visit the Savourez votre région This hyperlink will open in a new window. page.
  • Make local products more interesting by trying new recipes using local produce. Find some examples on the Aliments du Québec This hyperlink will open in a new window. website.
  • Do not waste food at home. Find some tricks and tips on the Gaspillage alimentaire : comment l'éviter? This hyperlink will open in a new window. section.
  • Help a community organization (Je bénévole.ca This hyperlink will open in a new window.) or agri-food businesses (Centre d'emploi agricole This hyperlink will open in a new window.). You can work there, but you can also volunteer your time if you wish. Contact organizations and businesses in your community for more information.
  • Treat yourself or your loved ones. Many companies are offering delivery or take-out services during the lockdown. Ask your sugar shack, restaurant, bakery, chocolate store or any other business you like. Many have launched some great initiatives at the moment.
  • You might be tempted to increase your self-sufficiency by turning to a garden or a private farm. You can also find out about community gardens. To get started, consult the Guide de l'agriculture urbaine This hyperlink will open in a new window..
  • If you like the idea of keeping urban chickens (poules en ville This hyperlink will open in a new window.) or any other animal species, never act on a whim. Chickens , like all other farm animals, require constant care to ensure their welfare. This type of farming is sometimes permitted by municipalities, you must be well informed before embarking on such a project, particularly with regard to the applicable regulations, the animals’ specific needs, and the availability of veterinary care in your region for the species you intend to keep. Before you start planning, you can consult the Guide de l'agriculture urbaine This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Instructions to follow when consumers go to retail stores are available on the website of the Retail Council of Canada This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Although it is possible to contract COVID-19 by touching a surface or object where the virus is found and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes, this is not the primary means of transmission. 

Many viruses from the coronavirus family can survive on surfaces for a duration ranging anywhere from two hours up to nine days, depending on the type of surface and the environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, etc.). However, you do not need to wash all your purchases. The key is washing your hands often, once you return home and after you have put your groceries away. As always, you should wash your hands before cooking and before eating.

For more information, watch the Hygiene tips at the grocery store and for fruits and vegetables This hyperlink will open in a new window. video.

No. However, fruits and vegetables must always be washed before being eaten, as you would normally do. All you need do is wash the produce with water and scrub the surfaces. There is no need for detergent.

In fact, packaging of fruits and vegetables increases the amount of handling by food establishment operators, which is not something we want. Consumers must also follow the respiratory etiquette concerning unpackaged food such as fruits and vegetables.

Using soap to wash hands has proven its usefulness, whereas this is not the case for fruits and vegetables.

Studies on fruits and vegetables involve even more variables like the type of fruit or vegetable, the type of detergent used, the type of targeted contaminants (chemicals like pesticides or microbiological contaminants). Consequently, the results of these studies are rarely unequivocal.

The theory that applies to washing hands with soap may also be appropriate for washing fruits and vegetables (among other things, because of the surface tension effect or wetting power of soap, which dislodges dirt and contaminants) There is a risk of leaving soap or detergent residues on fruits and vegetables especially those with rough or porous surfaces or if the peel is eaten, which is undesirable. Unlike dishes, fruits and vegetables are porous and residues can easily stay on them.

Ultimately, if we compare the risks and benefits, it is wiser to only rinse and scrub fruits and vegetables, when possible, whereas washing hands with soap is advisable.

The coronavirus is transmitted through respiratory droplets or by touching surfaces or utensils that may be contaminated with droplets. It is possible to contract COVID-19 by touching a surface or object where the virus is found and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes, but this is not the primary means of transmission.

Whenever possible, avoid handling packages while eating (or after washing your hands). Wash your hands when there is a risk of contamination. The following steps are therefore recommended (this is just one example of the many possible types of meals to be delivered):

  1. Pick up the delivery boxes and place them on a counter;
  2. Open the boxes;
  3. Wash your hands;
  4. Using utensils, transfer the food onto plates.  Even if this is not possible and the packaging is not handled (e.g., cardboard plate), the risk of contamination is still reduced;
  5. Dispose of delivery boxes (recycling, garbage or compost);
  6. Wash and disinfect the counter;
  7. Wash your hands before eating.

It is also important that good hygiene practices, food safety practices and safe cooking be followed.  These practices generally minimize the risks of contamination or transmission of foodborne illnesses.

Yes. Firstly, it’s important to follow the general precautions for donating food. There are also additional precautions required.

For people donating food:

You can prepare food for others by ensuring that normal hygiene measures are followed (washing hands and surfaces before cooking, washing fruits and vegetables, etc.). It’s also important to pay attention to containers and other objects that the recipient will handle. For example, using a container straight from the dishwasher or a new bag is preferable. This will ensure that the containers have not been handled in the meantime.

For more details on donating food, consult the page Dons d'aliments This hyperlink will open in a new window. (French only).

For those in charge of the community fridge:

You must monitor fridge traffic and set up a way to manage lines, if necessary. Hand sanitizer must also be available nearby, which donors and users should be encouraged to use.

You must disinfect handles and doors, as well as any other surface that is frequently touched. Lastly, you must ensure regular rotation of the food placed inside the refrigerator and clean the inside of the appliance according to the frequency of use.

To clean household surfaces, a solution of 0.1% sodium hypochlorite is recommended. That means 4 teaspoons (20 ml) of domestic bleach in 1 litre of water. It is best to prepare a new diluted solution every day and not to mix bleach with any other cleaning products.

A 0.1% hypochlorite solution is sufficient to eliminate viruses such as coronavirus, which is less resistant than other pathogenic microorganisms.

This is in line with current scientific literature on coronavirus and complies with recommendations from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention This hyperlink will open in a new window.).

In the current context and according to the available scientific data, the proportions usually recommended (1:200) must be increased to 1:50 (equivalent to a 0.1% solution of sodium hypochlorite) as a precautionary measure. When a solution of 0.1% sodium hypochlorite is used on food contact surfaces, those surfaces must also be rinsed off to limit the risks of chemical hazards.

We are monitoring the scientific data on the subject.

Restaurants offering food or meals for takeout can choose whether or not to make their washrooms accessible to the public.

If they do so, operators must then implement and execute a thorough cleaning procedure for surfaces most exposed to the public. It is not recommended to make restrooms meant exclusively for staff available to the public.

The coronavirus is transmitted through respiratory droplets. It is also possible to contract COVID-19 by touching a surface or object where the virus is found and then bringing your hand to your mouth, nose or eyes, but this is not the primary means of transmission. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, persons who are symptomatic or in preventive isolation should avoid handling or preparing food for others.

Alternatively, we can prepare food for others by ensuring that normal hygiene measures are followed (washing hands and surfaces before cooking, washing fruits and vegetables, etc.). We should also pay attention to containers and other objects that the recipient will handle. For example, the use of a container from the dishwasher or a new bag is preferable. This will ensure that the containers have not been handled in the interval. The dish can be placed on a surface when delivered to the recipient’s residence and the recipient can then pick it up later. As always, the person should wash their hands before eating.

These rules are the same for everyone, regardless of the age of the recipients.

ANIMAL OWNERS OR CARETAKERS

Avoid contact with animals, as indicated in the self-isolation instructions This hyperlink will open in a new window.. This rule is applicable until the end of the self-isolation period required by public health authorities.

With an animal free in the house, it can be challenging to avoid contact with it and to respect hygiene measures regarding it as you would with people around you. However, you must avoid direct contact like petting it, allowing it to lick you, carrying it or letting it sit on your lap. You must also avoid sharing food, your bed and the bathroom.

To make following these self-isolation instructions easier, you can put your animal in a cage or crate suitable for it or keep it in a room designated for it alone. Otherwise, you can restrict its access to the bedroom and bathroom by keeping the door closed behind you and picking up your food and dishes as soon as you finish eating or drinking.

If you followed the self-isolation instructions, your animal may interact with other animals and people again.

However, if you came into direct, unprotected contact with your animal during your self-isolation period, continue to limit contact between your animal and other animals or people for a period of 14 days after this contact. If possible, keep your animals indoors. Outdoors, use a leash or a private, fenced space.

There is limited knowledge about which animals are likely to be infected with SARS-CoV-2. In some infected animals, no symptoms have been observed. Others may exhibit fever, respiratory symptoms (sneezing, coughing, respiratory distress) and gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhoea).

No. Having an animal wear a mask for face covering is unhelpful and could cause them stress or other problems. This recommendation is for people only. It aims to reduce the risk of the person wearing the face covering of transmitting COVID-19 to others.

The government has implemented a variety of economic measures to support business and commerce, including those that are considered nonessential. Some of these measures could therefore apply depending on the activities concerned.

The current health crisis could have repercussions on pets and animals for leisure activities. Despite this context, it is essential that pets and animals for leisure activities continue to receive the basic care to which they are entitled (e.g., sufficient and proper nutrition, adequate shelter).

If an animal's owner is no longer able to provide this care or if he is unable to pay for the care provided by his animal's caretaker (e.g.: boarded horse), he/she must act and make responsible choices to limit the negative effects of his/her situation on his/her animal.

Animal shelters (e.g. animal services, SPA or SPCA) are considered as providing essential services.  They can be contacted by owners needing to give away their pets.

Shelters must also provide the required care for the animals in their care.  However, their care capacity may be reduced due to the current crisis. Cooperation on the part of all stakeholders is needed to limit cases of euthanasia of animals where alternatives are available.

Yes, you are allowed to purchase or adopt animals. However, there are many aspects you need to consider before bringing a pet into your home. Dogs live for 12 years on average, and cats for 15. So you will be responsible for it for many years. The MAPAQ website offers many tips on responsible pet adoption This hyperlink will open in a new window..

When you adopt an animal, please make sure that all parties concerned follow social distancing rules, and inquire about other hygiene instructions recommended by the  Ministère de la Santé et des Services Sociaux (MSSS).

Yes. Grouping inseminations (by synchronizing timing) at a set time of the week is recommended, when possible, in order to limit visits.

The hygiene measures recommended by the Ministère de la Santé et des Services Sociaux and the Interim Recommendations for Agricultural Workers in Crop and Livestock Production This hyperlink will open in a new window. of the Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec (INSPQ) should be implemented.

However, measures required by public health authorities take precedence over the information in these guides. Please review the additional health measures to be implemented according to the alert level in your area This hyperlink will open in a new window.. Contact your regional public health director This hyperlink will open in a new window. if you have any questions.

AGRI-BUSINESSES AND AGRI-FOOD WORKERS

Since measures vary according to the alert level specific to each region or city, bio-food businesses selling directly to customers (farm stands, shops, etc.) and farmers’ markets must refer to the Alert Levels Map by region This hyperlink will open in a new window. to see what measures food merchants must follow. They must make sure to adhere to the measures specific to their zone and the conditions applicable to their activities. They must also ensure their compliance with restrictions on the number of customers admitted to commercial enterprises This hyperlink will open in a new window.

Bio-food businesses selling directly to customers (farm stand, stores, etc.) and farmers’ markets must also refer to the Guide des mesures sanitaires pour le commerce de détail – CNESST This hyperlink will open in a new window. and the COVID-19: Shops and stores - Preventive measures in the workplace – INSPQ This hyperlink will open in a new window. so they are familiar with the health measures to be implemented.

Bio-food businesses that offer deliveries must also refer to the COVID-19: Delivery Workers - Preventive measures in the Workplace – INSPQ This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Bio-food businesses and farmers’ markets offering food service must refer to the Alert Levels Map by region This hyperlink will open in a new window. to see the specific measures for their zone and the conditions that apply to providing food service.

Additionally, bio-food businesses providing food service must refer to the Guide des mesures sanitaires pour la restauration et les bars – CNESST This hyperlink will open in a new window., the Fiche de prévention pour la restauration (service au comptoir, à l’auto et livraison) – INSPQ This hyperlink will open in a new window. and the Directives de santé publique concernant la réouverture des salles à manger et des autres lieux de consommation du secteur de la restauration - MSSS This hyperlink will open in a new window. to familiarize themselves with the preventive measures to be implemented.

You should avoid all forms of entertainment to limit the festive nature of an activity.

Sampling or tasting is allowed in stores. Masks or face covers can be removed briefly to consume food but must be replaced immediately. Other health recommendations such as social distancing between individuals from different residences must continue to be observed. Sampling or tasting must also occur in a spirit of respect for the following rules:

Since measures vary depending on the alert level of a given region or city, agri-tourism events must refer to the Alert Levels Map by region This hyperlink will open in a new window. to see the specific measures for their zone and the conditions that apply to hosting indoor and outdoor public gatherings.

Read the Guidance for Industry: What to do when someone tests positive for COVID-19 in a food establishment (PDF 166 Kb) document.

Food establishments can comply with recommendations and adopt best practices to protect their staff and customers. To learn more, consult the Recommendations for food establishment merchants (PDF 104 Kb).

The Public health expertise and reference centre (INSPQ) has produced a series of documents outlining preventative measures to take against the spread of COVID-19 in different work environments This hyperlink will open in a new window., including the following documents:

Measures required by public health authorities take precedence over the information in these guides. Please review the additional health measures to be implemented according to the alert level in your area This hyperlink will open in a new window.. Contact your regional public health director This hyperlink will open in a new window. if you have any questions.

Some documents are also available in Spanish on the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) website: Publicaciones This hyperlink will open in a new window.

You can also consult the Risk-informed decision-making guidelines for workplaces and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic This hyperlink will open in a new window. page to learn more about how to protect staff and customers in a work environment.

You can proactively validate the prevention measures as well as the response methods to act quickly if a positive case of COVID-19 is declared in an establishment.

Contact your local public occupational health network team. You can find the contact information under the “Régions” tab of Réseau de santé publique en santé au travail (RSPSAT) This hyperlink will open in a new window. website. 

So far, we have no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food. It is therefore unlikely that such a transmission will take place. Adherence to good food hygiene and safety practices and safe cooking generally minimizes the risk of transmission of any foodborne contamination and illness.

Food establishment operators (restaurants, supermarkets, slaughterhouses, butchers, dairy plants, processing plants, etc.) play an important role in preventing foodborne illnesses. In the current context, they should follow public health recommendations and the following guidelines:

  • Ensure that staff under their responsibility are aware of issues related to COVID19;
  • Rest assured that the staff respect the rigorous sanitary guidelines recommended by the public health authorities;
  • Ensure that food handlers are properly trained in food hygiene practices;
  • Ensure effective supervision of food handlers to enhance hygiene practices in the establishment;
  • Ensure that the appropriate facilities are available for hand washing;
  • Ensure that food handlers are aware that they must report any symptoms of respiratory illness before or during work;
  • Ensure that food handlers and other personnel are not ill;
  • Ensure that staff with symptoms remain at home until medical advice is received;
  • Enhance cleaning and sanitation procedures for items that are exposed to public handling (handles, crates, counters, menus, etc.). Special attention should be paid to fast food or self-service locations where utensils can be handled by several people;
  • The use of self-service buffets where people have to wait in line, close to each other and close to food and utensils, is an increased risk and should be avoided;
  • Provide for additional or alternative refrigerated or frozen storage capacities to meet the food demand, which is likely subject to change (decreased demand in the hotel, restaurant and institutional sectors, increased demand for food products at retail locations);
  • Prepare an action plan in the event of a labour shortage. Do not neglect cleaning and sanitation activities and processing methods that require qualifications. If necessary, prioritize activities that ensure the best means of food availability and abandon other activities.

The Public health expertise and reference centre (INSPQ) has produced a series of documents outlining preventative measures to take against the spread of COVID-19 in different work environments This hyperlink will open in a new window., with some of those pertaining to the food industry. 

If they believe that they have symptoms of a respiratory illness, it is important that food handlers inform their employer, avoid preparing food for others, and follow public health recommendations.

It is possible that food handlers who are infected may introduce the virus into the food they are in contact with through contaminated hands or by coughing or sneezing. However, this is unlikely to occur if people who come into contact with food in the food industry adhere to good personal hygiene practices that help reduce the risk of transmission of most foodborne illnesses. Such practices include:

  • Frequent hand washing and good general hand hygiene;
  • Compliance with the good food hygiene and safety practices (see the Guide des bonnes pratiques d’hygiène et de salubrité alimentaires This hyperlink will open in a new window.);
  • Compliance with respiratory etiquette This hyperlink will open in a new window.;
  • Avoid contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing and sneezing, to the extent possible;
  • Food handlers should wash their hands frequently (even if they have no symptoms of illness). Hand washing is required:
    • before starting work,
    • before handling cooked or ready-to-eat foods,
    • after handling or preparing raw food,
    • after handling waste,
    • after performing cleaning and sanitizing tasks,
    • after going to the toilet,
    • after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose,
    • after eating, drinking or smoking,
    • after handling money.

Gloves are not required and wearing them provides a false sense of security.

Common cleaning and sanitizing methods used in the food industry should be continued and their frequency of use should be increased where possible. Other pathogenic microorganisms, generally more resistant than coronavirus, should not be overlooked.

Currently, 70% alcohol and sodium hypochlorite are known to be particularly effective against coronavirus.

Confirm with your suppliers how effective their cleaning and sanitizing procedures and products are against coronavirus. In case of doubt, it is best to keep the procedures already in place and always ensure that they are correctly applied, in accordance with manufacturer instructions.

For non-food surfaces that are particularly exposed to the public (handles, crates, counters, etc.), more frequent cleaning using a disinfection method known to be effective against coronavirus is recommended. Health Canada has published a list of disinfectant products that can be used to inactivate SARS-CoV-2 on hard surfaces.

In the food sector, items in fabric can be washed following manufacturer instructions. If possible, use hot water and dry the items thoroughly.

If at all possible, clean and sanitize items made of fabric more frequently, as is the case for any other surface.

For more information on this subject, consult the COVID-19 : Nettoyage de surfaces This hyperlink will open in a new window. document from Public health expertise and reference centre (INSPQ).

Aside from using enhanced good hygiene practices when preparing food, additional precautions may be taken to limit the contamination of surfaces and contact with clients:

  • protect packaging (tins, bottles, containers, etc.) or distance packaging from handlers or clients;
  • encourage transactions by telephone or Internet and avoid the use of cash;
  • delivery people should signal their arrival, then leave packages on doorsteps.

Clients should handle the packages, then wash their hands before eating.

Masks and gloves are not necessary measures to ensure the protection of delivery people, food handlers or clients. They are for patients who have symptoms or who are thought to be infected, and for the healthcare professionals.

On this subject, consult the COVID-19 : Mesures pour les livreurs à domicile (colis, livraison de restaurant, épicerie, etc.) This hyperlink will open in a new window. from the Institut National de la Santé Publique du Québec (INSPQ).

It is the responsibility of the owner of the establishment to take such measures as he/she deems necessary to ensure public health in his/her restaurant or grocery store.

However, coughing does not mean that he/she is infected with the virus. We are relying on the civic-mindedness and honesty of citizens to respect public health instructions in case of doubt or contamination.

In grocery stores, as with all retail stores, systematic disinfection of the carts made available to customers is not required. However, it is recommended that customers be provided with the means necessary to clean carts, with either:

  • an employee stationed at the store entrance and assigned to this task;
  • or equipment made available to customers for self-service use. Where appropriate, the retailer should ensure frequent verifications are carried out to check that cleaning equipment is available and in good condition.

In addition, we remind you that regular cart cleaning by the retailer is still recommended. It is also strongly recommended that they provide the means necessary for handwashing.

It is also recommended that employees clean surfaces regularly. Consult the Hierarchy of Control Measures in the Workplace This hyperlink will open in a new window. page on INSPQ website.

In this regard, the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail refers customers to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations : Adjustment of preventive measures in the workplace in green zones This hyperlink will open in a new window..

At all times, Public Health Recommendations This hyperlink will open in a new window. must be strictly followed when receiving temporary foreign workers in order to support Québec’s agri-food activities in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

See the 2021 Reminders About Temporary Foreign Workers in the Bio-food Industry Arriving in Québec in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic (PDF 353 Kb) document for additional details. Spanish version available (PDF 374 Kb).

You can also read the answers to the most frequently asked questions on the Temporary Foreign Bio-food Industry Workers page.

As far as agricultural businesses are concerned, consult the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) website dedicated to employment in this sector: Centres d'emploi agricole This hyperlink will open in a new window..

We encourage you to donate any remaining food to food banks or other food aid organizations to help support Québec families in need.

Companies who make donations can take advantage of a tax credit for charitable donations This hyperlink will open in a new window..

The Food Banks of Québec network has implemented the Food Exchange This hyperlink will open in a new window., which is an electronic platform that connects product suppliers with community programs associated with the preparation or distribution of food.

Food handlers who are sick or showing symptoms of respiratory illness (fever and cough) must inform their employer. They should stay at home until their symptoms subside and follow the public health guidelines available on the Self-care Guide This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Food businesses are encouraged to work on their service continuity plan.

Agricultural producers and food processors may continue their direct sales activities to consumers through the following:

  • In a permanent or seasonal farmer's market stall;
  • In a shop or stand located on or outside production sites, including self-service stands;
  • At a delivery point for the delivery of a basket or an order.

However, they must ensure that hygiene and public health measures and instructions are followed, according to the requirements of the alert level in effect in the region, including, but not limited to, the continuous wearing of surgical masks in workplaces. Farmer's markets, whether indoors or outdoors, can also continue to operate and must follow the same guidelines.

Farmers’ markets, farm stands and delivery points must follow the same health measures as food merchants.

Protect the health of workers by ensuring the application of necessary measures. The INSPQ (Public health expertise and reference centre) has produced a series of documents outlining preventative measures to take in different work environments. They are available at COVID-19: Occupational health This hyperlink will open in a new window.. The document Interim recommendations for Agricultural Workers in Crop and Livestock Production This hyperlink will open in a new window., which supplements the general preventive measures, can be found there.

Strengthen your biosafety measures This hyperlink will open in a new window. by more strictly limiting the entry of visitors to the farm.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or are following self-isolation instructions from public health authorities, avoid contact with animals. Make sure you have an emergency plan in place to ensure that your animals receive the necessary care in the event that you are unable to care for them.

Mink farms are dealing with exceptional risks. Outside of Québec, mink farms have been infected by SARS-CoV-2 (the COVID-19 virus). They are subject to very strict control measures. Infected workers introduced the virus at several of these farms. A strain of SARS-CoV-2 characterized by mutations that affect the proteins targeted by potential vaccines has been found at some of these farms. The hypothesis that this strain could propagate and threaten the effectiveness of a future vaccine led to culling at several farms.

Especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, government programs exist to support businesses and workers in the commercial fisheries and aquaculture industry.

For information, refer to the following files:

Government support programs for fisher helpers, plant workers and aquaculture workers (PDF 228 Kb)

Initiative to reduce the spring stock at fish farms that supply the fish planting market for sport fishing This hyperlink will open in a new window.

The Public health expertise and reference centre (INSPQ) indicates preventative measures to take against the spread of COVID-19:

Consult the Interim recommendations for the fishing industry This hyperlink will open in a new window. and the Interim recommendations for the food processing industry This hyperlink will open in a new window. documents.

If you are a company or a stakeholder in the bio-food sector and you are faced with specific issues jeopardizing your activities, you are invited to contact the regional branch This hyperlink will open in a new window. of the ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation.

The following measures are available:

  • Lending banks are available to study your file and find a customized solution for your situation. It is important that you contact them before you reach a critical tipping point.
  • The Financière agricole du Québec (FADQ) is offering new solutions in connection with its financing and insurance products. For more information, visit the “News room This hyperlink will open in a new window.” section of the FADQ website, and feel free to contact the service centre in your area.
  • The Government of Québec announced the creation of the Concerted Temporary Action Program for Businesses This hyperlink will open in a new window. (PACTE) and a moratorium on loans taken out through local investment funds. The PACTE can help businesses experiencing difficulties with the supply of raw materials or products (goods or services) and who are facing an inability or a substantial reduction in their ability to deliver products (goods or services) or merchandise. The financial assistance, for a minimum amount of $50,000, is provided in the form of a loan guarantee, but may also take the form of a loan.
  • The Government of Québec announced the introduction of the Emergency Assistance Program for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses This hyperlink will open in a new window., which aims to support eligible companies experiencing financial difficulty for a limited period. The assistance granted will take the form of a loan or guarantee of up to $50,000 and will serve to mitigate the same cash flow problems as the PACTE (Concerted Temporary Action Program for Businesses). Loan applications must be sent to regional county municipalities (MRC).
  • The Government of Canada has set up the Canada Emergency Business Account This hyperlink will open in a new window. intended to help eligible businesses that paid out wages in 2019. Financial institutions have been mandated by the federal government to offer a loan of up to $40,000, including an interest-free period.
  • The Government of Canada has increased the lending capacity of Farm Credit Canada This hyperlink will open in a new window. (FCC) by more than $5 billion to support the cash flow needs of farmers and food processors. Contact this organization for more information.
  • The Government of Canada is offering SMEs, through the Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee Program This hyperlink will open in a new window. and the BDC’s Co-Lending Program This hyperlink will open in a new window., the possibility of maintaining a sufficient volume of liquid assets. These programs are being managed by Export Development Canada and the Business Development Bank of Canada, respectively. In addition, these two organizations have relaxed the conditions for offering their financial services following the increase in the business credit program.
  • Revenu Québec This hyperlink will open in a new window. and the Canada Revenue Agency This hyperlink will open in a new window. are also offering various deferrals with regard to the dates for tax returns, tax instalment payments, GST-QST returns and on balances of income taxes payable.
  • Regarding medium and large businesses, the CDPQ (Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec) This hyperlink will open in a new window. is offering financing of more than $5 million to companies that were profitable before the crisis and which have good future business prospects, to help them overcome the crisis.

Financial assistance to businesses, granted under the programs administered by the ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation, is maintained as are essential services.

If you wish to apply for a food permit, please visit the Permis This hyperlink will open in a new window. section to view the documentation and download the permit application form.

You must complete the form and mail it to the address indicated on the form. It must include the required documents, if applicable, as well as the payment (opening fee and cost of the permit).

Due to the ongoing epidemiological crisis (COVID-19), additional processing times for applications and permit renewals are expected. 

We would like to remind you that submitting an application is not sufficient to start an operation. You must receive a permit before taking any action.

Renew a current food permit This hyperlink will open in a new window. : Send your completed and signed renewal form along with the required payment.

Given the current situation, additional processing times are expected. In cases where a previously issued permit is not renewed within the recommended time due to extended processing times; this means you can continue to carry out the activities authorized by that permit, under the same conditions.

Despite the current crisis (COVID-19), inspectors are continuing to support operators to ensure food safety and animal health and welfare. They are also informing operators of the public health measures to be taken with regards to COVID-19 when preparing and processing food.

Some services may be affected, such as the issuing of permits. Under these circumstances, no negative consequences will be attributed to clients in this respect.

All measures necessary to protect the health and ensure the security and physical safety of workers are taken.

When an inspection must be carried out on-site, employees take all measures necessary to protect themselves as well as to protect the clients with which they are entering into contact. To do this:

  • Standard biosecurity directives are maintained to limit the spread of all pathogens. A clean lab coat must be worn during each inspection.Handwashing is mandatory both upon arrival and before leaving the inspection site;
  • Staff must keep a distance of two metres between themselves and others. All unnecessary contact between individuals is to be avoided;
  • It is no longer required to have the inspection report signed by the operator. The inspector must instead indicate "submitted to Mr. or Mrs. the..." and set down the report at a reasonable distance from the operator;
  • Before entering the operation site, the inspector must ask whether anyone present or on-site is showing any symptoms associated with COVID-19 (fever, cough, respiratory difficulties), has tested positive for COVID-19 or has travelled abroad in the past 14 days. If the answer is yes to any of these questions, the inspector must not enter the site and then evaluate alternative options with their manager. It is to be noted that in the absence of symptoms amongst the occupants, social distancing measures must be respected, and the inspector must avoid all unnecessary contact with the animals or the environment;
  • Specific measures are planned for continuous inspections in slaughterhouses.​
  1. The worker’s period of employment begins when they arrive in Canada and includes the required quarantine period on arrival. This means that the employer must comply with all laws and policies regarding the employer-employee relationship during that period.
  2. Employers are required to pay their temporary foreign workers for the duration of the mandatory quarantine period. If the period of quarantine or isolation on arrival is extended for any reason, workers must continue to be paid accordingly by the employer. The compensation must correspond to 5 hours of work per day, up to a maximum of 30 hours per week, at the rate of pay specified in the Labour Market Impact Assessment. This practice is consistent with the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program’s authenticity policy. It specifies that reasonable employment needs to constitute a full-time workload, i.e. a minimum of 30 hours a week. Proof of wages paid should be kept.
  3. This requirement will also apply to workers participating in the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP). The mandatory quarantine period on arrival will be paid in addition to the minimum 240 hours of pay provided for in the contract.
  4. Employers can withhold standard contract deductions (e.g. Employment Insurance, housing, transportation, etc.) as per Program requirements. The employer is not allowed to deduct any additional amounts due to the quarantine period.

Visit the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) This hyperlink will open in a new window. page and the Government of Canada’s Quarantine, testing and other COVID-19 measures for temporary foreign workers and employers This hyperlink will open in a new window. page.

A financial assistance program has been created to help agricultural producers, fishers and all employers in the food processing sector. This allows them to put in place the necessary measures to ensure compliance with the mandatory quarantine period imposed on all workers arriving from abroad. The federal government’s Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Program may provide a contribution for each temporary foreign worker.

In order to establish the legitimacy of a person’s travel, the police may ask the person to provide supporting documents, such as proof of residence, a driver’s licence or a document provided by an employer.

The first condition is that the person must not be exhibiting any symptoms. The police will then assess whether or not the travel is essential.

The police will always be able to use their discretion to make a decision. Therefore, a letter from the worker’s employer is recommended in order to help with the police assessment.

Visit the transportation, travel, gatherings and audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic This hyperlink will open in a new window. page.

According to the usual process, the letters are not “available on arrival,” but rather before departure (usually before the worker purchases their plane ticket, and under current circumstances, before they can be registered on a charter flight).

Therefore, if the industry charters a flight to pick up workers, it is responsible for ensuring that enough workers have received their letter and are good enough health to board the flight.

Employers are entirely responsible for organizing transportation for their workers. No financial assistance will be provided.

COVID-19 poses a risk to the health of workers and the employer is obligated to protect the workers’ health, as well as to ensure their safety and physical integrity.

On October 23, 2020, a working group of the Réseau de santé publique en santé au travail, coordinated by the Québec Public health expertise and reference centre, adopted new health recommendations for the bio-food sector (publications 2962 and 3072). The majority of these recommendations apply to the living environment of hired temporary foreign workers and their accommodation.

The current public health recommendations were made using the best available information and best practises in the context of a health emergency. They aim to reduce the risk of disease outbreaks among the same group of workers and to reduce any associated risks, including simultaneously losing part of the workforce at a critical time.

A consistent and standardized approach has been adopted to support employers for the 2021 production season. The accommodation requirements introduced for the 2020 season continue to apply and the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail and the Réseau de santé publique en santé au travail will conduct preventive inspections using these criteria. However, if possible, the employer is expected to be able to demonstrate the efforts they have made to follow the new recommendations and to agree to participate in a process of continuous and optimal improvement of their facilities.

Orders issued by some public health departments and measures being taken by municipalities can lead to police intervention, particularly in regard to enforcing social distancing.

Foreign temporary workers can be housed in furnished accommodation either on the farm or in accommodation located off-site. The latter includes housing rented off-site, as well as housing units that are part of an establishment governed by the Act Respecting Tourist Accommodation Establishments, for example hotels, motels, vacation campsites, short-term chalet rentals, etc.

Accommodation must meet public health requirements and comply with the Government of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program This hyperlink will open in a new window. obligations.

No. However, during the mandatory quarantine on arrival in the country, Québec public health authorities recommend that foreign workers be housed in single rooms with meals served in the room. This is the best practice to avoid contagion between quarantined people.

Despite this recommendation, it was agreed that the same requirements as in 2020 would be applied. Employers are also required to comply at a minimum with the Canadian government’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

There is no limit of workers per room imposed by this regulation. However, at all times, lodged workers must be able to maintain a physical distance of two metres from other persons. Thus, bunk beds or screens between beds are not allowed. If the housing does not allow workers to maintain the two-metre physical separation, the employer must find alternative accommodation that will allow this, such as renting hotel rooms.

It is important to note that under this regulation, for the entire duration of the stay – including the mandatory 14-day quarantine period on arrival – the employer must provide facilities to allow each person who is ill or showing COVID-19 symptoms to isolate him/herself in a single room with a private bathroom (strict individual isolation).

Yes, but it is not recommended. Wherever possible, it would be desirable to limit occupancy to one or two workers per room according to public health recommendations.

In this regard, the use of dormitories should be a measure of last resort until the employer is able to provide single or double occupancy rooms. The layout should make it possible to:

  • reduce the number of temporary foreign workers so that there is a minimum distance of two metres between each worker at all times, with an additional distance of one metre on each side of the bed for movement (for a total of nine square metres of personal space for each worker).
  • position the beds foot to foot to keep the faces as far apart as possible.
  • constantly ventilate the room with fresh outside air (natural or mechanical ventilation) and have windows that correspond with least 5% of the floor area. If ventilation is mechanical, the system must always be on, without using the air recirculation mode, and if the ventilation is natural, the windows must be open for a minimum of 15 minutes, three times a day (morning, noon and evening).

The employer is expected to be able to demonstrate the efforts they have made to follow the new public health recommendations and to agree to participate in a process of continuous and optimal improvement of their facilities.

Taking temperatures as the sole tool for screening workers at the facility’s entrance is not recommended. Occupational health physicians prefer to use a symptom-based screening questionnaire without taking a temperature.

French: Questionnaire des symptômes COVID-19 – INSPQ This hyperlink will open in a new window.

English: COVID-19 Symptom-based Screening Questionnaire – INSPQ This hyperlink will open in a new window.

Spanish: Cuestionario de síntomas COVID-19 – INSPQ This hyperlink will open in a new window.

Yes. After the quarantine period, temporary foreign workers must follow the same rules that apply to all workers in the workplace.

The Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail and the Québec Public health expertise and reference centre have published information leaflets on the rules to follow to ensure a safe work environment for all workers:

In addition, outside of work, foreign workers must also follow the health regulations that apply to the population of the region where they reside during their stay in Québec. It is recommended that the employer explain and remind employees of these other instructions.

Yes, but it is not recommended. Wherever possible, the employer should limit occupancy to one or two workers per room according to public health recommendations.

A sick worker may infect all of his or her roommates or coworkers and force them into isolation.

In fact, public health recommends immediate removal, as a preventive measure, of all persons who have been in close contact with a symptomatic worker with suspected COVID-19 in the last 48 hours before the onset of symptoms until the symptoms are recognized, as well as isolation of the symptomatic worker. This measure is intended to prevent a worker considered a close contact from remaining at work due to the delays inherent in confirming the symptomatic case. However, this preventive removal measure could have an impact on production activity continuity, which must be considered in the decision to apply this measure. In addition, in the presence of a confirmed COVID-19 case, individuals identified by public health should isolate themselves.

Each close contact who is removed from work and becomes a confirmed case of COVID-19 must comply with public health recommendations before returning to work.

All workers living under the same roof as the symptomatic worker are considered close contacts.

Reference: COVID-19 Symptom-based Screening Questionnaire – INSPQ This hyperlink will open in a new window.

With regards to COVID-19, everyone in Québec will be covered for both tests and hospitalization. Having a health insurance card or private insurance is the preferred option.

For other, non-COVID healthcare, foreign agricultural workers residing in Québec for work must be registered with the RAMQ health insurance plan. If workers cannot be covered by the RAMQ, they must take out private insurance.

You can find more information on the RAMQ’s Questions and answers about our services during the pandemic This hyperlink will open in a new window. page.

The employer is responsible for transporting workers to their place of quarantine. Links to information about the measures to be taken are located in the reminders (PDF 353 Kb) document.

For transportation conditions between the airport and worker quarantine locations, public health recommendations state that:

  • each employer must take immediate responsibility for their workers at the airport;
  • workers must be transported in small groups to their accommodation;
  • the health and minimum distance recommendations (minimum two-metre between people) must be followed during transportation;
  • the employer must contact the COVID-19 line if they are unsure about the health condition of any of their workers during pick-up and transportation.

For more details, see the COVID-19: Temporary foreign workers in Preventive Isolation (Quarantine) This hyperlink will open in a new window. from the Québec Public health expertise and reference centre (INSPQ).

On April 22, 2020, doctors from the Réseau de santé publique en santé au travail and INSPQ confirmed the industry’s recommendations regarding the directions to follow when employers or staffing agencies are transporting workers:

  • Clean and disinfect buses or shuttles before boarding each group of workers;
  • Avoid bringing any at-risk workers, those who are either aged 70 or older, suffering from immunodeficiency or a chronic illness (such as cardiovascular, respiratory or kidney disease; diabetes, etc.) into the country;
  • Refuse boarding to workers showing symptoms. These workers should normally have been identified when disembarking from the plane and be taken into care in a specific quarantine unit;
  • Ensure compliance with social distancing measures of two metres between people, by reducing the number of workers per bus by at least 50 %. If despite this measure, the two-metre distance cannot be respected, ensure that physical barriers are set up that do not breach usual safety standards. Otherwise, as a last resort, provide workers with masks during transportation;
  • Make use of hand sanitizer mandatory when boarding and exiting the bus.

Personal food items are not permitted in the bus during transportation to the place of quarantine. The employer must provide snacks and water bottles for each person, taking into consideration the duration of the journey.

For vehicles transporting workers from one area of the farm to another (e.g. from the main building to a secondary building or to the field), you must:

  • clean the vehicle both before and after use;
  • only fill vehicles to 50 % of their loading capacity;
  • keep space between workers to avoid all physical contact.

See the COVID-19: Mode d’organisation du travail « Fly in Fly out » (FIFO) ou « Drive in Drive out » (DIDO) This hyperlink will open in a new window. from the Québec Public health expertise and reference centre.

This information will be used to facilitate intervention in the event of an outbreak and will only be used if any cases of COVID-19 occur in temporary foreign workers.

A mechanism must be provided to protect the confidentiality of this information before it is transferred to public health authorities. Employers are encouraged to contact their local public health authorities for more information using the list of public health contacts (Find a Resource) This hyperlink will open in a new window..

In addition to the obligations of foreign worker hiring programs, preventive visits in the context of COVID-19 will also be carried out by the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST).

The Réseau de santé publique en santé au travail teams are mobilized to support and assist workplaces. They work closely with CNESST inspectors in all sectors of economic activity to prevent or help manage outbreaks. 

For more information, see the 2021 Reminders About Temporary Foreign Workers in the Biofood Industry Arriving in Québec in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic (PDF 353 Kb) document.

A Spanish version (PDF 374 Kb) is available.

RESTAURANT ACTIVITIES

The economic activities authorized vary from one region to another depending on the alert level in force.

For additional information, please visit Affected economic sectors in the red zone.

For details on the tools available to workers the restaurant industry, consult the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) toolkit This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Restaurant owners must prohibit access to these areas and equipment unless they are serving customers through an attendant. Retailers must also avoid selling unpackaged self-service food (except for fresh fruit and vegetables), unless enhanced hygiene measures are in place:

  • additional physical protection (containers, sneeze-guard, automatic dispenser)
  • measures implemented for hand-washing nearby or service by an attendant
  • increased frequency of cleaning and disinfection of frequently handled or exposed surfaces: directly handled surfaces that are not near a hand washing/disinfecting station should be cleaned between each customer.

Automatic dispensers such as fountain drink, slushie and coffee machines can be used by customers if a hand washing or disinfection station is set up nearby and cups, lids, straws and other items are provided by an attendant. A sign should also direct customers not to reuse cups.

These devices need to be frequently disinfected throughout the day, like other frequently touched surfaces.

Cleaning and disinfection of tables, chairs and menus should be performed after each customer. Seasonings (salt, pepper, sugar, oils, spices, etc.) or other objects (games, newspapers, etc.) should be removed from the tables.

Instructions vary from one region to another depending on the applicable alert level. For more information, visit the COVID-19 alert levels map This hyperlink will open in a new window..

The government supports businesses in the catering sector and their workers to ensure that health standards are met.

A COVID-19 toolkit This hyperlink will open in a new window. with a specific health standards guide and checklist has been prepared by the CNESST for the catering sector. This kit provides details on the preventive measures to be implemented to protect the health and safety of personnel, particularly to properly manage contacts between customers and personnel.

In addition, more than 1,000 officers have been deployed during the past few months to raise awareness and provide information on preventive measures to be implemented.

If you notice a lack of compliance with public health measures, such as physical distancing, you can report the situation by contacting the police department in your area.

A worker can file a complaint or report a dangerous situation to CNESST, if necessary. This complaint will be processed to assess the risk of the situation and determine the need for corrective or control measures. You should call CNESST at 1-844-838-0808 (option 1).

A toolkit containing a specific health standards guide and a checklist have been prepared by CNESST for the restaurant sector to support the management of occupational health and safety in the environment.

The kit details the preventive measures to be implemented to reduce and control the risks associated with COVID-19, whether it involves staff contact with customers or between workers.

For a complete set of recommendations, download the toolkit for the restaurant industry This hyperlink will open in a new window. prepared by the CNESST.

Depending on the measures that apply in their region, restaurants must abide by the restrictions on the number of customers admitted to commercial enterprises This hyperlink will open in a new window..

There is currently no evidence to suggest that food is a likely source or route of transmission of COVID-19. There is no requirement for additional staff.

Efforts in food establishments to conduct food safety monitoring must continue.

Depending on the level of alert in their region, commercial sugar shacks will be able to open for customers by adapting their practices to provide a safer experience that is suited to the current pandemic situation.

On Level 3 – Alert (orange zone), commercial sugar shacks will be able to accommodate customers in the dining room. They will have to follow the current rules for restaurants:

  • two adults per table with their minor children or with people who need assistance
  • reservations required
  • keep an attendance register with customer contact details (name, telephone number and, if applicable, email address)
  • proof of residency requested from customers to ensure that they reside in an area with an orange, yellow or green alert level
  • 2-metre distance between tables or installation of Plexiglas
  • wear a face covering, unless people are seated and respect the prescribed distancing
  • maple taffy service on snow at tables

For more details visit the public health directives concerning the reopening of dining facilities and other places of consumption in the restaurant sector This hyperlink will open in a new window. page. 

Entertainment:

In sugar shacks in orange zones, entertainment cannot take place at the same time as meals.

  • Once the meal is served and people are eating, the rules for restaurants apply.
  • If entertainment (performing arts) is presented, whether a practice or performance, meals cannot be served at the same time.
    • Measures for venues where performing arts are presented must then be respected (including during practices or performances):
      • A surgical mask must be worn at all times.
        • If the mask is briefly removed to eat or drink, people must not talk.
      • People must remain seated in their spot.
      • A 1.5 m distance must be maintained between people who do not reside at the same address, even while seated.

Outdoor activities will have to follow current rules in orange zones:

  • groups limited to 8 persons or to occupants of the same private residence
  • compliance with the applicable rules, including a physical distance of 2 metres between groups and persons who do not reside at the same address
  • maple taffy service on snow at picnic tables, for example, or using facilities that make it possible to serve family bubbles separately to avoid people gathering together or getting too close to one another during this activity

On Level 4 - High Alert (red zone), commercial sugar shacks may offer products or food for take-out as well as delivery, like restaurants. Outdoor activities must be limited to those permitted in a red zone, either to groups of no more than 8 people or to occupants of the same residence.

It is important to recall, however, that interregional travel is not recommended. Therefore, customers from another region should not be encouraged to visit.