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What Businesses Need to Know about Ontario’s Latest Lockdown

The Government of Ontario has announced on Friday November 20th, that the City of Toronto and the Region of Peel will move to the “Lockdown/Grey” stage of the COVID-19 Response Framework effective Monday, November 23, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. for a minimum of 28 days.

What you need to know

For control (red) and lockdown (grey) areas the following GENERAL REQUIREMENTS apply:

  • Trips outside of the home should only be for essential reasons (work, school, groceries/pharmacy, health care, assisting vulnerable individuals or exercise and physical activity).
  • Families should not visit any other household or allow visitors in their homes.
  • Everyone should avoid social gatherings.
  • Work remotely, where possible.
  • No indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household.
  • Limit of 10 people for any outdoor organized public event and social gathering, where physical distancing can be maintained.
  • Limit of 10 people (indoors or outdoors) for weddings, funerals and other religious services, rites or ceremonies where physical distancing can be maintained.
  • Virtual and drive-in gatherings, events services, rites or ceremonies are permitted.
  • Follow previously communicated preventative measures (Hand washing/physical distancing/wearing masks where required/sanitizing surfaces etc.)
  • Workplaces must screen any workers or essential visitors entering the work environment. See the COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces for more information.
  • Some businesses or organizations must screen patrons.

Additional information and guidance on this and other lockdown stages, including a PDF document on sector specific guidance for various businesses can be obtained from the Ontario Government website outlining the COVID19 framework.

Set Up A Workplace Safety Plan
Every businesses/organization in Lockdown/Grey zones and in higher risk settings, which are permitted to remain open, must have a COVID-19 workplace safety plan. Businesses are not required to send this plan to the Ministry of Labour, however, if your business should be inspected, a Ministry inspector could ask about the plan, during the inspection. To assist employers, there is a template safety plan, and guidance on setting it up, available on the Government of Ontario Website to help businesses protect workers and others from COVID19.

At minimum, a safety plan should address the following topics and should help to reduce the risk of passing on COVID-19 at work:

1.Document what measures the employer put in place to reduce the risk of passing COVID-19 among workers at the workplace.

    • screening people who enter the workplace
    • support self-isolation for workers with symptoms and workers who are close contacts of COVID-19 cases
    • ensure people maintain a physical distance of two metres or more at work. restrict workplace attendance if physical distance is not possible
    • have workers, clients and visitors wear masks/face coverings
    • disinfect surfaces and objects, schedule for deep cleaning office as necessary
    • support hand hygiene, particularly handwashing, provision of alcohol disinfectant hand wash stations as necessary/relevant
    • provision to workers of PPE and related items
    • communicate frequently/ workplace notices, to remind workers about above rules, good cough/sneeze etiquette and to avoid touching their face
    • Any other relevant measures that you have implemented for your particular workplace

2. How will you ensure all workers know how to & are able to keep themselves safe from exposure to COVID-19?

    • Outline how will you stay current on the law, and changes, including health and safety requirements
    • Outline how you will communicate this to workers and guests (Involve unions, supervisors, health & safety representatives/JHSCs, contractors, suppliers etc.

3. How will you screen for COVID-19?

    • Workplaces must screen workers or essential visitors entering the work environment. See the COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces linked above, for more details.
    • Some businesses or organizations must screen patrons. Where this is required

4. How will you control the risk of transmission in your workplace? That is, what are your practices and protocols, both physical and administrative?

    • ensure people maintain a physical distance of two metres or more
    • have workers, clients and visitors wear masks
    • disinfect surfaces and objects
    • support hand hygiene, particularly handwashing
    • Communicate frequently, remind workers about good cough and sneeze etiquette and to avoid touching their face

5. What will you do if there is a potential case, or suspected exposure to, COVID-19 at your workplace?

    • follow guidelines as outlined in the COVID19 screening tool.
    • Ask the employee to stay at home and self isolate. Recommend a COVID test. Get in touch with other employees who may have been in close contact and ask to self isolate as a precautionary measure
    • Disinfect/deep clean the workplace.
    • work with the local public health unit if any workers have COVID-19 or are exposed to someone with COVID-19
    • Stay in touch with employees affected and monitor their progress (advise them of disability plans as applicable, provide disability application forms as relevant)

6. How will you manage any new risks caused by changes to the way you operate your business?

7.  How will you ensure your plan is working and thus how often will you review your plan?

8. Who is responsible for evaluating how things are working and for adapting the plan? How will you communicate changes?

Here is the official press release from the Office of the Premier and a news article listing what’s allowed and what’s not, in Ontario’s lockdown zones.

If you’re a Beneplan client please contact the HR consultant at Beneplan at hr@beneplan.ca or call 647 943 0247 for question or support on this and other HR topics that you may require assistance with. This service is complimentary, for Beneplan clients. If you’re not yet a Beneplan client, get in touch so we can build a better benefits plan for you and your employees.