Toronto will finally start naming businesses with active COVID-19 outbreaks
With a gobsmacking 974 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Toronto on Monday — and that's the City of Toronto itself, not Ontario as a whole — municipal officials have announced a host of new measures meant to curb the raging pandemic.
The freshly-rolled out directives for employers in Toronto emphasize such things as advanced infection prevention procedures, physical distancing between employees, ventilation standards and "minimizing instances of more than one individual travelling together in a vehicle for work."
These rules are effective immediately for all workplaces still allowed to operate under the Reopening Ontario Act. All businesses and organizations are urged to continue letting employees work from home wherever possible.
The story of this pandemic is increasingly a story about work.— Joe Cressy (@joe_cressy) January 4, 2021
To put it simply, if you were fortunate enough to be able to work from home over the past year, you're significantly less likely to get COVID.
New data on Toronto workplace outbreaks: https://t.co/N5sgRqeEHx
More interesting and pertinent for those of us who don't run businesses: The city is now publicizing the names of workplaces in which COVID-19 outbreaks have been detected (as residents have been asking then to do for months.)
"Under the direction of the Board of Health, today the COVID-19 dashboard will include new information to further illustrate the characteristics of the virus in Toronto," said de Villa during a press conference on Monday.
"The website will provide more specificity about workplace related outbreaks across eleven categories, including workplace settings like grocery stores, pharmacies, food processing sites, offices, warehousing, shipping and distribution, construction, and manufacturing facilities."
The new system will be updated every Thursday, though a few business names are already listed on the city's COVID-19 dashboard, including DECIEM, Sofina Foods Inc. and TTM Technologies Inc.
While all employers are now mandated to notify Toronto Public Health when two or more people test positive for the virus within a 14-day interval, not all outbreaks will be reported publicly.
Dr. de Villa said that TPH's system will "share specific information about workplace outbreaks without compromising individual privacy" and later noted that the size of a company matters: It would be hard to list a workplace with only 3 or 4 employees while honouring the rights of workers to medical privacy.
When asked how large a company would have to be to qualify for inclusion on the outbreak list, de Villa gave the ballpark number of 20 employees.
She also outlined additional criteria for such a disclosure, including the sustained transmission of COVID-19 within a workplace and workplaces that pose a "significant public health risk."
To reduce the spread of #COVID19, the #CityofTO has announced additional measures for all businesses and organizations permitted to open, effective immediately.— City of Toronto (@cityoftoronto) January 4, 2021
Learn more: https://t.co/LWS7OZ3NSK pic.twitter.com/HoRWll4obx
We've seen the city do this before in the case of outbreaks where a large number of potential patrons could not be reached for contact tracing, such as The Brass Rail, Club Paradise, Yonge Street Warehouse and Regulars.
Of course, the aforementioned businesses (like all strip clubs, bars and restaurants) are currently closed due to the ongoing provincewide shutdown.
When they eventually reopen, however, outbreaks at all of the following venue categories will be published weekly on the City of Toronto's website, based on the North American Industry Classification System:
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