KITCHENER -- Waterloo Region's top doctor has issued a set of instructions to local businesses in an effort to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

In a news release issued on Thursday morning, the region said that the instructions will go into effect on Monday, Dec. 14 at 12:01 a.m. Some businesses, like health-care providers, school and child-care programs, are exempt.

Starting then, businesses are asked to do "active screening" of employees and essential visitors. Screening is to be done daily before or at the time that someone enters the workplace. Those who don't pass screening should be excluded right away.

The Ontario government provides a screening tool that businesses can use.

Businesses are also advised to prepare a COVID-19 safety plan, and to designate a management person who's responsible for implementing it.

Business owners are asked to ensure physical distancing in the workplace, including in lunchrooms and other employee-only areas, and to ensure that people are wearing face coverings or other personal protect equipment.

"These measures seek to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in workplace and business settings. I recognize it is a challenging time for organizations, which have had to quickly adapt to new requirements and implement new measures," said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang in the release.

"I want to acknowledge and thank businesses and workplaces for their efforts. Their diligence, collaboration and commitment to our community are very appreciated."

The news release noted that businesses have already put several measures in place to protect their staff and patrons, but that there have been a number of outbreaks in workplace and business settings anyway.

Officials further clarified that many of these measures have already been observed by local businesses, but as a result of outbreak investigations done by both public health officials and provincial inspectors, there were some "common areas of concern" that can result in an increased spread of COVID-19.

The latest measures, combined with other Section 22 orders that Dr. Wang has put in place, are designed to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Waterloo Region without moving into a lockdown.