Toronto, Peel to Close Businesses With 5 or More COVID-19 Cases Linked to Workplace

Toronto and Peel Region are issuing orders to force businesses with five or more cases of COVID-19 in the past two weeks to close.

Peel Regional Lead Doctor Lawrence Loh said the closures will last 10 days if it is found that those infected “could have reasonably acquired their infection at work” or if “no obvious source” for transmission is identified outside of the workplace.

All employees impacted by a closure will need to self-isolate and cannot work anywhere else during that period.

The order will be issued through Section 22 of Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act, which grants local medical officers certain authority when faced with public health crises.

Businesses and workplaces “essential to the well-being” of the region, such as health care, first responders and emergency child care, will not be forced to close, the release said. A full list of exempt workplaces will be included in the order later Tuesday.

Toronto Public Health announced its decision following Peel, saying in a statement it had worked closely with the neighbouring region to develop the order.

The manufacturing sector is “deeply disturbed” by the order, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters president and CEO Dennis Darby said in a statement. He called on the provincial government to intervene and create a coordinated plan for Ontario.

In addition, Dr. Loh also recommended that businesses are forced to close because COVID-19 cases provide paid leave for employees forced to isolate.

“In the absence of legislated paid sick days, we also call on all employers impacted by expedited closure to provide paid leave for all employees impacted by COVID-19 or these new safety measures, and to consider moving as many operations as possible virtually to reduce risk,” said Dr. Loh.

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