By ALI RAZA, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Workplaces in the City of Toronto with five or more COVID-19 cases will be forced to shut down for 10 days.
Toronto Public Health issued a Section 22 order on Tuesday, April 20, for workplaces across the city, following Peel Public Health’s move just a day before.
The public health units invoked Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act where a medical officer of health is authorized to order action regarding a communicable disease.
Toronto and Peel are among the hardest hit communities in Ontario when it comes to cases of COVID-19.
While Premier Doug Ford announced extended restrictions on Friday, April 16, much of those were rolled back following a weekend of negative reactions from members of the public, the medical community, the opposition parties, and more. Premier Ford has not been seen publicly since the Friday press conference.
Toronto Public Health said the order is necessary to “break chains of transmission” where COVID-19 is determined to be spreading.
The order mirrors recommendations from the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table on protecting workplaces.
“Workplaces that are open provide an opportunity for COVID-19 to spread,” Toronto’s medical officer of health Dr. Eileen De Villa said.
“Given that the majority of our cases are now as a result of variants of concern, which transmit faster, this order will support Toronto Public Health’s investigators to help workplaces immediately reduce the risk of spread and manage workplace outbreaks quickly.”
Workplaces in Toronto will be required to close or have a portion of their workplace closed where five or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 are identified within a 14-day period.
They will be closed for 10 calendar days. During that time, workers will be required to self-isolate.
Some workplaces, such as health care facilities or workplaces providing critical services may be exempt from full closure requirements.
Toronto and Peel are following a move by British Columbia’s provincial medical officer of health, where a similar order is in effect province-wide.
The City of Toronto is strongly recommending that employers re-evaluate their operations to determine whether workers can work remotely in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Ali Raza is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.