COVID-19: Guidance on Lunchroom and Breakroom Practices

We all have a part to play in keeping our workplace and University of Guelph community safe and healthy. Lunchrooms and breakrooms are places where there is a potential for increased risk of COVID-19 transmission as the employees are likely to:

  • Have interactions with others
  • Not wear masks or other face covering during eating and drinking
  • Conduct activities that release respiratory particles (e.g., speaking loudly and laughing)
  • Touch shared surfaces (e.g., sink taps, counter tops, water dispensers, paper towel dispensers, fridge handles and microwave buttons) 

Students, faculty, staff and visitors must complete self-screening before coming to campus.

Self Screening

Completing the University of Guelph COVID-19 Daily Screening Form every day before coming to any University locations.

If you feel sick, DO NOT come to work and notify your Supervisor.

If you become sick while at work, STOP working, isolate yourself from others, notify your Supervisor and go home as soon as possible.

Create Safer Spaces

The following measures can be incorporated into lunchrooms and breakrooms organizations and practices to prevent potential transmission of COVID-19 in shared spaces for eating and taking breaks: 

  • Restrict eating to clearly identified and dedicated eating areas. These areas should have handwashing/sanitizing stations, cleaning and disinfectant materials, and adequate space to maintain at least 2 metres of distance from each other. 
  • Consider moving unnecessary furniture out of the area to create more space.
  • Position dining tables, chairs and other furniture in lunchrooms and breakrooms to help employees keep at least 2 metres of distance from each other.
  • Consider providing more locations (e.g., empty meeting rooms) for eating and taking breaks.
  • Provide visual markings to support physical distancing (e.g., designated seating areas) and control the flow of people.
  • Encourage employees to have breaks outdoors, weather permitting. If possible, prepare/organize an outdoor space/furniture (e.g., bench) for employees to use. However, 2 metre distance should still be maintained when eating or drinking outdoors.   
  • Discourage employees from sharing food. Prohibit serving food buffet-style or potluck style.
  • Keep windows open as much as possible.

Develop and Communicate Plans

Develop and communicate plans for using lunchrooms and breakrooms including:

  • Stagger eating and rest periods to reduce the number of employees in the lunchrooms and breakrooms at the same time.
  • Set limits on the number of people allowed to use meal and break areas at one time.
  • Post information and reminders that everyone is required to maintain a 2 metre distance from each other, wash or disinfect hands before and after eating, clean and disinfect commonly used appliances and high touch surfaces before use, and take masks off only when eating and drinking.
  • Consider assigning employees to specific lunchrooms and breakrooms if there are multiple spaces available.
  • Allow masks to be removed indoors for eating and drinking only but not during other activities (e.g., waiting for the microwave).

Additional Resources for Lunchroom and Break Rooms Practices During COVID-19

Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA) Guidance on Lunchroom Practices during COVID-19

Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MOL), Meal and Break Periods at Work during COVID-19