ALERT CONTENT PLACEHOLDER

Updated January 2024


Policies about visiting, wearing masks and vaccination change often in response to hospital and community levels of COVID-19. Please check back frequently or ask your care team about current policies.

On this page:


Visitor limits related to COVID-19 have now been lifted

UHN has returned to our regular visiting guidelines.

Extra precautions and limits will still be in place for patients in isolation or staying on a unit with an outbreak. Please speak with your care team about special visitor restrictions for your unit.


Let's work together to prevent the spread of infections

  • Self-screen for symptoms of illness before coming to UHN.
  • If you are a patient, let your care team know if you are feeling unwell when you arrive.
  • If you are a visitor, stay home if you are feeling unwell or have a known infection.
  • Clean your hands before, during and after your visit to UHN.
  • Wear your mask in all areas where it is required.

Masking information (Updated)

As of July 5, 2023, wearing a mask is optional in most public areas of UHN hospitals.

Masks are still welcome in all spaces where they are not required. The choice to wear a mask will be respected and supported.

Masks are still required:

  • During all direct patient care and contact.
    • This applies to patients, visitors, Essential Care Partners (ECPs) and health care providers.
  • In all waiting rooms.
    • This includes all outpatient clinics, medical imaging and lab waiting areas, the Emergency Department and dialysis waiting rooms.
  • In all areas of high-risk inpatient units, including:
    • Princess Margaret Cancer Centre: Units 14 and 15 A/B/C
    • Toronto General Hospital: Units 6 Eaton South, 6 Munk A, 7 Munk A/B

In addition to being optional in public areas like lobbies, elevators, and lounges, masks are also now optional in common spaces on most inpatient units. This includes hallways, at nursing/team stations or communication stations, and in charting, break and meeting rooms.

Read a Q&A with Dr. Susy Hota on updating our mask policy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is UHN changing its masking policy again?

Community transmission of and hospitalizations from COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses are currently low. The decision was made based on consistently low transmission rates. We closely monitor COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses and will adjust our policy if needed.

Can I wear my own mask for my appointment or when I'm visiting someone?

UHN-approved medical masks will be available at all entrances, outpatient clinics and inpatient units.

If you arrive at UHN wearing an N95 or KN95 mask, you can continue to wear it. If you are wearing a cloth face covering or a disposable mask, please remove it and put on a new medical mask.

What about mask exemptions?

If you are a patient who has a legitimate medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask, contact your UHN doctor or nurse practitioner's office before your first appointment.

If your exemption is approved, you will receive a Face Mask Exemption Form. Bring your approved exemption form with you to the hospital, as you will be asked to show it by hospital staff. You will be given a face shield to wear instead.

If you have questions or health concerns about wearing a mask, please let your health care team know before arriving for your appointment.

Mask exemptions are not available for visitors or Essential Care Partners.

Who do I contact with questions?

Your health care team, clinic staff, or unit manager is your first point of contact for questions about masking.

If you still have questions, you may contact Patient Relations.


COVID-19 vaccination policy

All UHN staff, contractors, researchers, visitors and Essential Care Partners (ECPs) must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This means having at least 2 doses of a Health Canada-approved COVID vaccine at least 14 days ago.

Exemptions may be made for visitors/ECPs who are not vaccinated in special situations. Speak with the patient's care team about exceptions. Pre-approval for an unvaccinated ECP will be needed by the unit or clinic manager, except in an emergency situation.


Frequently asked questions

In what situations will unit or clinic managers consider an exemption to the Vaccination Policy for a visitor or Essential Care Partner?

Inpatient settings:

  • Patients who are at end-of-life (prognosis of less than two weeks)
  • Patients who are otherwise palliative or who have a significant life-limiting course with greater than 2 weeks expected
  • Patients considered vulnerable, including those who:
    • are under 18 years old;*
    • are receiving a life-altering diagnosis;
    • are experiencing mental health crisis;*
    • have a significant developmental or intellectual delay;*
    • are frail and need continuous support to safely eat, move or manage mental or social needs;
    • are unable to effectively communicate, and communication cannot be adequately supported by Interpretation and Translation Services (ITS) or other clinical supports;
    • have a pre-existing cognitive impairment that cannot be supported by the care team (not a new-onset neurological impairment). This allowance will vary by unit.
    • have a complex discharge where ECP discharge training is required.
  • An ECP who has applied for an exemption based on medical or other human rights grounds, and has been approved by the UHN Vaccine Exemption Panel.

Outpatient settings:

  • Patients who require a support person to safely attend their appointments. For example, due to dementia, significant developmental or intellectual delay, inability to effectively communicate, mobility issues, etc.
  • Patients who meet the vulnerable patient criteria listed above.
  • Patients who are receiving a life-altering diagnosis.
  • An ECP who has applied for an exemption based on medical or other human rights grounds, and has been approved by the UHN Vaccine Exemption Panel.

I'm assisting someone to the Emergency Department, but I'm not fully vaccinated. What can I do?

If you pass symptom and risk factor self-screening, you can help the patient to the triage area. You will not be allowed to enter the Emergency Department or wait with them unless approved for an exception.

I'm visiting a Toronto Rehab patient outdoors. Do I need to be fully vaccinated?

Although full vaccination is not required for outdoor visits, we strongly recommend choosing visitors who are vaccinated. If visitors need to go inside the hospital at any time during the visit, such as to pick up a patient or use the washroom, they will need to be vaccinated if over 12 years old.

Whether you are going indoors or not, you will need to pass hospital COVID-19 symptom self-screening and wear a medical mask.

Who can I speak to if I disagree with a decision about my medical mask or vaccination policy exemption?

If you are declined approval by the unit/clinic manager for an exemption from the visitor vaccination policy, or by your UHN care provider for a mask exemption, but feel that you should be eligible, you can contact UHN Patient Relations at 416 340 4907 or patientrelations@uhn.ca.

While an exception may not be possible, the Patient Relations team will help work with you to understand if there is information that the team was not aware of when making their decision.

Can I ride the UHN Shuttle Bus?

The shuttle bus between Toronto General and Toronto Western is currently for staff use only to allow for safe physical distancing.

Can I wear my own mask inside UHN?

If you arrive at UHN wearing an N95 or KN95 mask, you can continue to wear it with the UHN-provided medical mask on top.

If you are wearing a cloth face covering or a disposable mask, please remove it and put on a new medical mask.

What are the current outbreak units at UHN?

TR Bickle – North 3
Date Declared: November 6, 2023

Past outbreak information

How do you define an outbreak?

The definition of a COVID-19 outbreak in a hospital is set by the province of Ontario. It is declared when there is evidence of transmission of the disease within the hospital on a single unit. Below is how we decide if there is a COVID-19 outbreak at UHN, where we have a low threshold to declaring an outbreak. Declaring an outbreak lets us put in additional measures to work towards preventing further transmission.

Definition of a COVID-19 outbreak involving patients and staff

When we have one hospital-acquired patient case, we investigate and initiate outbreak measures to mitigate risk while discussing the situation with Toronto Public Health. Sometimes we call an outbreak on just the one case, depending on the situation. Other times we continue with heightened precautions. If a second case in a patient or staff member occurs within 14 days, an outbreak may be called.

Definition of a COVID-19 outbreak involving staff only

If two or more cases occur within 14 days and there is reasonable concern for acquisition of infection within the hospital in these cases – an outbreak is called.

For non-COVID, communicable disease outbreaks, UHN defines an outbreak as an occurrence of cases of an infectious disease in excess of what would normally be expected on a clinical unit or units, where patient safety is deemed to be at risk. Read UHN's outbreak policy  to learn more about how we handle communicable disease outbreaks at our hospitals.

Who declares an outbreak?

It is a joint decision made by UHN – with our Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) and Occupational Health teams – and Toronto Public Health.

Should I be worried about coming to the hospital?

If you are a patient with questions or concerns about coming to the hospital, please contact Patient Relations at 416 340 4907 or patientrelations@uhn.ca.

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