toronto public health covid

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.

As promised by Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa last Wednesday, new rules were put forward this afternoon pertaining mainly to places of work. 

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.

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."

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:

  • Bar, restaurant, nightclub and other entertainment venues
  • Event venues, and religious facilities
  • Non-institutional medical health services including doctor’s offices, physiotherapy clinics, dental settings and wellness clinics
  • Personal service settings including hair salons, tattoo parlours, nail salons and spas
  • Recreational fitness facilities, group fitness classes, team sports and related events
  • Retail settings including grocery stores, pharmacies and malls
  • Farms
  • Food processing plants
  • Offices, warehouses, shipping and distribution, construction, and manufacturing settings
  • Other workplaces and community settings not captured in these categories
  • "Unknown"
Lead photo by

mathan shan

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