Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health, has instructed businesses and organizations operating in Simcoe Muskoka that they must employ additional precautions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in work settings.
“We are facing a critical time in our fight against this disease,” said Dr. Gardner. “We must increase our efforts to contain its spread. Since September we’ve seen a substantial increase in workplace transmission, often resulting in outbreaks, due in part to a failure of workplaces to meet the requirements of the provincial health and safety legislation and the public health preventive measures for the workplace.”
In a letter of instruction to businesses, Dr. Gardner outlined 14 measures that businesses and organizations are required to comply with as set out in the Regulations under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020. Most of these measures are in keeping with workplace safety legislation that is already in place, and thus should not be new to employers; however this letter of instruction serves to strengthen communication to employers on the importance of compliance with these practices, and when needed increased enforcement. These measures will be effective as of November 30th, 2020.
A key requirement is for businesses and organizations to appoint a Compliance Officer who is responsible for the implementation of a COVID-19 safety plan and compliance with all required and recommended occupational health and safety and infection prevention and control measures.
Among others, required measures in the letter include:
- Enable work from home/remote work to reduce the number of workers exposed to the workplace where reasonably possible.
- Ensure active daily screening for all workers attending the workplace before they begin their shift.
- Ensure 2-metre physical distancing of workers where reasonably possible and if they are not able to maintain a 2-metre distance from every other person, workers need to wear a mask/face covering that covers their mouth, nose and chin.
- Ensure appropriate use of personal protective equipment covering the eyes, nose and mouth for anyone who in the course of providing services is required to come within 2 metres of another person who is not wearing a mask or face covering and is not separated by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.
- Minimize carpooling or shared rides for driving associated with work.
- Ensure facilities and supplies for adequate hand hygiene, and all infection prevention and control measures in all areas accessible to the public
Dr. Gardner’s instructions follow a special statement that was released to the public on November 24 urging residents to do more to stop the spread of COVID-19 noting the growing transmission impacts and threatens our health and lives, and the ability of our healthcare system to manage the increased demands on its services. Locally COVID-19 cases are at the highest levels to date with more than 1,954 cases as of Wednesday. There have been 52 deaths across the region
The same day he sent a letter to Simcoe Muskoka municipalities strongly recommending that they prohibit access to their recreational facilities to anyone whose primary home is in the Red and Grey levels as defined in Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework.
For more information on protecting yourself and others from COVID-19 visit the health unit website at www.smdhu.org and our HealthSTATS pages for up to date information on cases across Simcoe Muskoka. Call Health Connection to speak with a public health professional weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 705-721-7520 (1-877-721-7520).
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