toronto public health covid

Here are Toronto's new public health recommendations for employers

While Ontario's province-wide shutdown remains in effect and non-essential businesses in Toronto continue to stay closed to help curb the spread of COVID-19, the city is recommending a number of additional steps for employers to take in order to prevent workplace outbreaks. 

Speaking during the city's first press briefing of 2021 Monday, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa outlined the bleak COVID-19 situation in the city.

She reported 3,061 new cases of COVID-19 in Toronto since Dec. 30 (974 since yesterday) and 38 new deaths since that same day (nine since yeserday), as well as 366 Toronto residents currently in hospital and 98 in the ICU. 

"Our goal in January must be to limit spread," she said. "Doing that relies in large part on us as individuals. To do otherwise is to surrender one of our most powerful advantages against COVID-19."

The city's top doctor explained that, in an effort to improve transparency, Toronto Public Health (TPH) will begin sharing specific information on different workplace outbreaks, including at grocery stores, offices, manufacturing facilities, pharmacies, and more.

"Toronto Public Health is instructing all employers and businesses in the city to take additional actions and measures to reduce the spread of the virus," she added.

Among the most significant of the recommendations is the requirement for businesses to immediately notify TPH as soon as they're made aware of two or more positive cases in a workplace. Businesses have to designate a contact person to work with TPH if and when this happens, and they must implement any measures required by public health.

Employers must also minimize instances where more than one person travels in a car for work-related reasons, said de Villa.

"They must implement rigorous and frequent cleaning in all high-touch areas and areas accessible to the public, and ensure regular functional assessments of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems," she said.

"Employers will also be required to ensure that physical distancing of employees by at least two metres takes place throughout the workplace where reasonably possible."

She also said employers are required to ensure all workers are aware of any benefits and/or pay to which they may be entitled if COVID-19 requires them to isolate and prevents them from working.

"These actions are meant to support employment, businesses, and the economy during the pandemic by supporting conditions where people can work and do business in safer and healthier circumstances," said de Villa.

"With more infection prevention and control measures, with more distance and clearer lines of accountability, there is greater capacity to manage public health while businesses operate in pandemic times."

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim

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