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Medical Officer of Health clarifies expectations and exemptions in updated letter of instruction to businesses for COVID-19 prevention measures

Dec 02, 2020
SIMCOE MUSKOKA – In an updated letter of instruction to businesses and organizations, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner is providing revised information and clarification for businesses and organizations expected to employ additional precautions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in work settings.

SIMCOE MUSKOKA – In an updated letter of instruction to businesses and organizations, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner is providing revised information and clarification for businesses and organizations expected to employ additional precautions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in work settings. Today’s updated letter which replaces the original letter released on November 26, is a result of feedback received from various businesses and organizations.

The businesses and organizations listed below will be exempt from the letter of instruction as they are already following provincially mandated sector-specific legislation, directives and guidelines.   

  • A licensed child care program that is in compliance with guidance issued by the Ministry of Education.
  • Health care providers and health care entities as defined in Section 77.7 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act, 1990, who are subject to the Chief Medical Officer of Health’s Directives issued thereunder.
  • Personal care service providers as described in and regulated by the O. Reg. 364/20.
  • Schools and school boards licensed under the Education Act, 1990.
  • Schools and Private schools within the meaning of the Education Act, that are operated in accordance with a return to school direction issued by the Ministry of Education and approved by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Details were also added in the updated letter that expand on expectations around active screening of employees; physical distancing expectations and ramifications for close contacts of an employee diagnosed with COVID-19 if precautions have not been followed, and the use of physical barriers in the workplace for infection prevention and control.

The requirement to investigate unplanned absences by workers for a risk of COVID-19 exposure has been removed, and replaced with greater clarity around expectations to exclude workers whose active screening indicates COVID-19 symptoms or close contact.

“It is important that workplaces understand and carryout the necessary precautions to keep their employees, customers and clients safe,” said Dr. Gardner. “That is why I have issued updated instructions, effective December 5 at 12:01 a.m., and I expect all businesses and organizations to do their part and follow the instructions.”

The updated letter of instruction, posted on the COVID-19 Operating Your Business Safely page on the health unit website, outlines 15 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 should not be new to employers.

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 where reasonably possible.
  • Ensure active daily screening for all workers before their shift.
  • Ensure appropriate physical distancing, including during rest periods.
  • Ensure appropriate use of face coverings.
  • 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 a physical 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.

For more information 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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