Simcoe Muskoka’s head health official urging businesses to beef up COVID-19 safeguards

Letter sent to area businesses and organizations amid rising workplace-related COVID cases

Simcoe Muskoka’s top medical official has instructed businesses and organizations in the region to step up their COVID-19 preventative measures.

In his letter, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s (SMDHU) Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Charles Gardner, outlined 14 measures that businesses must comply with under provincial law, and he says it shouldn’t be taken lightly. “It carries legislative weight, it is enforceable,” Gardner said this week. “This is meant to address workplace transmission that we continue to see, and address the lapses we’ve seen, that have been associated with that transmission.”

“We are facing a critical time in our fight against this disease,” added 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.”

Since the beginning of November, there have been 34 cases of COVID-19 in Simcoe or Muskoka associated with a workplace outbreak.

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

A full list of the requirements included in the letter of instruction to businesses and organizations can be found on the COVID-19 Operating Your Business Safely page.