COVID-19: Guidance for Employees Travelling in a Vehicle

COVID-19 is currently thought to spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

Reminder for all employees:

  • If you feel sick, stay home, DO NOT come to work and inform your supervisor.
  • If you become sick while at work, STOP working, isolate yourself from others, inform your Supervisor and go home as soon as possible, avoiding public transportation and taking measures to protect others around you. 
  • If you had a close contact with a person suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 in the past 14 days, DO NOT come to work and inform your supervisor. 

If you are worried that you were exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms, take the Public Health Ontario COVID-19 self-assessment for guidance on next steps OR visit an assessment centre near you to get tested. For a complete list of COVID-19 related symptoms, refer to the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Reference Document for Symptoms

Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) recognizes the need for some employees to make essential trips to various locations (e.g., research stations) in the course of their work. In order to ensure that physical distancing is practiced during these trips, it is recommended that:

  1. each employee travels in a vehicle (either their own or the university-owned) without a passenger.
  2. if travel alone is not possible, employees travel in a large enough vehicle to maintain at least 2 meters from each other. 

If these options are not feasible, and employees must travel together in a vehicle where 2 metre physical distancing cannot be achieved, the following precautionary measures should be followed:


What to bring

  • In addition to the tools, parts and/or equipment required for the job, take the following to the trip: 
    • Supplied cleaners or disinfectants
    • Disposable gloves for use in cleaning and disinfection
    • Disposable garbage bags
    • Non-medical face masks
    • Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol (optional)
    • Tissues (optional)


Keep Distance

  • Minimize the number of passengers (e.g., the driver and only one passenger in a four door or standard-sized vehicle, including a king cab pickup truck, and two passengers in a van with two benches). 
  • Maximize the distance between the individuals inside the vehicle. 
  • The passenger in a four door or standard-sized vehicle should sit in the back seat opposite to the driver. 
  • Avoid using the recirculated air option for the car’s ventilation. Use the car’s vents to bring in fresh outside air.
  • If possible, drive with the windows open to maximize the air flow.
  • Avoid unnecessary contact with frequently touched surfaces such as door frame/handles, windows, seatbelt buckles, steering wheel, gearshift, signaling levers, and other vehicle parts before cleaning and disinfection. 
  • All personnel should handle their own personal bags and belongings during loading and unloading.  
  • Cohort teams for sharing rides and limit intermixing for team travel. 

Note: EHS currently does not recommend the installation of partition as a suitable approach to allowing more persons in University vehicles due to various considerations, including the possibility of the partition obstructing the driver’s visibility and/or giving false sense of security while not providing adequate protection against transmission of COVID-19.

The drive should be in the driver seat, and the passenger in the opposite back seat of a vehicle to keep the proper distance


Wear a Non-Medical Mask 

  • Everyone inside the vehicle should wear a non-medical mask during each trip as it can reduce the spread of their own respiratory droplets to others. Non-medical masks may not provide complete protection against viral particles.  
  • Review and follow the Public Health’s instruction video on “How to wear a non-medical mask or face covering properly”. 
  • Follow the Public Health guideline on the use of non-medical masks, including the precautions below: 
    • Consistently and strictly adhere to the other precautionary measures described above as the mask alone will not prevent the spread of COVID-19.
    • Wash hands immediately before putting it on and immediately after taking it off (in addition to practicing good hand hygiene while wearing it).
    • Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose and mouth when removing their mask and wash hands immediately or use hand sanitizer after removing. 
    • Cover your nose and mouth with the mask.
    • Make sure the mask fits snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
    • Do not share the mask with others.
    • Avoid touching the mask while using it.
    • When removing the mask, grasp the ties or ear loops carefully without touching the front of the mask. 
    • For a disposable mask, discard it, replace it as soon as it gets soiled, damp, damaged or difficult to breathe through. Dispose of the mask properly in a lined garbage bin.
    • Wearing a non-medical mask should not be a substitute to proper hand hygiene or be used if you are feeling sick. If you are sick, stay home, do not attend work and notify your manager.

Wearing a non-medical mask under her nose and mouth


Hand hygiene

  • Immediately before and after each trip, everyone should wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Dry hands with a paper towel.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

Hand washing with water and soap


Clean and Disinfect

  • Before and after each trip, clean / disinfect the frequently touched surfaces in the vehicle.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on the use of the cleaning / disinfection products and wear disposable gloves if needed (e.g., to avoid skin irritation). The gloves should be removed with care to avoid skin contact with the outside of the glove.   
  • Always wash hands immediately after removing the gloves or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Follow appropriate steps to take off gloves. 

Cleaning and disinfecting a surface with a cloth, while wearing gloves


Respiratory etiquette when coughing or sneezing

  • Cough or sneeze into the elbow or a tissue, even with a face mask on. 
  • Dispose of any tissues used as soon as possible in a garbage bag. 

Person covering their nose and mouth with a tissue