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Hamilton Public Health to start shutting down certain workplaces to limit COVID-19 spread

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Hamilton Public Health to start shutting down certain workplaces to limit COVID-19 spread

City of Hamilton Public Health Services will now be able to shut down a place of businesses in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Under the new Order, Public Health has the authority to close all, or part of, a workplace where five or more confirmed COVID-19 cases are confirmed within a 14-day period. Public Health will also have to determine whether the cases were acquired at the particular workplace.

The closure would last a minimum of 10 days.

“Further action is needed to break the chain of transmission of COVID-19 in our community and stronger local public health measures are required during this third wave of the pandemic,” Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Medical Officer of Health.

“Workplaces, businesses, and local employers continue to be an important partner in responding to the pandemic emergency. Together, we can help workplaces reduce the risk of transmission and manage outbreaks quickly. Moving forward with this Section 22 Class Order means we can better protect the health and safety of staff, their families and the wider community.”

The Health Promotion and Protection Act Section 22 Class Order will go into effect Tuesday (May 4).

Public Health says under the new order, outbreak information will be received more quickly from workplaces — ensuring appropriate measures are in place to “help break the chain of transmission.”

The Order will initiate the following requirements:

  • Employers to notify Public Health Services if two or more cases of COVID-19 are identified within a 14-day period among those who attend the workplace.
  • Employers must also notify Public Health Services when five or more cases of COVID-19 are identified within a 14-day period among persons who attend the workplace.
  • The closure of certain workplaces, or parts of workplaces, where five or more confirmed COVID-19 cases are confirmed within a 14-day period and where cases could reasonably have been acquired through infection in the workplace.
  • A workplace closure to be in effect for a minimum period of 10 calendar days.
  • Workplaces subject to closure to post signage provided by Public Health Services at all entrances to the premises.
  • Workers at the closed workplace, or parts of workplaces, to self-isolate where exposures and potential transmission are considered widespread.
  • Certain workplaces may be exempt from the full closure requirement, such as:
    • First responder emergency services (Fire, Paramedics, Police and their communication services)
    • Shelters
    • Critical infrastructure such as water/wastewater treatment facilities
    • Utilities
    • Telecommunications and IT
    • Transportation and energy
    • Government services
    • Services required to maintain the health of animals

Order 22 has also been instituted in Peel and Toronto Public Health.

“We support Public Health in utilizing additional tools to effectively manage workplace outbreaks and curb the transmission rate in an effort to protect workers and families,” said Mayor Fred Eisenberger.

“From the start of the pandemic, I have supported and emphasized the need for paid sick leave. The financial and economic consequences of COVID-19 for workers leaves them with limited options. We don’t want workers ever to be in the impossible position of having to choose between putting food on the table and paying their bills or going to work sick or with symptoms. In order to protect workers, their families and the community, paid sick days are a necessary measure to curb transmission.”

Workers who believe their workplace is violating the Order can report their concerns to Hamilton Public Health Services at 905-974-9848.

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