Toronto Public Health issues Section 22 Class Order to close workplaces to manage COVID-19 outbreaks

As easily transmitted COVID-19 variants of concern spread quickly throughout Toronto and the GTA, outbreaks are increasingly linked to workplaces, where the virus can spread through close contact between workers.

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health, Toronto Public Health says "Workplaces that are open provide an opportunity for COVID-19 to spread. 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."

To reduce this significant risk to the city’s health, Toronto Public Health (TPH) will issue a Section 22 order for workplaces. This Order is a necessary tool to break the chains of transmission within Toronto workplaces where COVID-19 is determined to be spreading.

• The Order is planned to require the closure of certain workplaces, or portions of workplaces, where five or more confirmed cases are identified within a 14-day period and where cases could reasonably have been acquired through infection in the workplace.

• The workplace closure will be in effect for a minimum period of 10 calendar days. • During this time, workers at the affected workplace will be required to self-isolate. • Certain workplaces, such as health care facilities, schools, child care centres, and workplaces providing critical services may be exempt from full closure requirements.

The Order will be available on the City of Toronto website http://www.toronto.ca, when issued, by Friday April 23, 2021.

Given the high case counts and number of workplace outbreaks in both Toronto and Peel, TPH has been working on the development of this order with Region of Peel Public Health. A similar authority was recently delegated by the Provincial Health Officer for British Columbia, where workplaces are being closed for 10 days when employees test positive for COVID-19.

The COVID-19 situation is serious with case counts that are the highest they have been since the beginning of the pandemic. While TPH will apply every measure within its authority, the assistance of every sector of society is critical in responding effectively to wave. Employers that continue to be open must: • Re-evaluate their operations to determine whether every possible person who can work remotely is currently doing so. • Have a safety plan. • Ensure to keep distance between employees, screen employees daily and immediately report more than two cases in their workplace.

TPH was one of the first health units in Canada to publish workplace outbreak information and will continue to do so on Toronto COVID-19 website. Information to support workplaces to prevent and manage COVID-19 can be found on the City of Toronto’s website: http://www.toronto.ca