Five TTC employees have now tested positive for COVID-19 at the Queensway Garage, prompting Toronto Public Health to order any staff who worked one or more shifts from April 12 to April 22 to stay home until April 30.
According to TTC spokesperson Stuart Green, Toronto Public Health has been working with the TTC to assess workplace exposures related to TTC employees who are confirmed coronavirus cases.
5 COVID-19 cases at Queensway Garage. As per TPH advice below, maintenance staff to stay home until May 1 to monitor. Garage remains open. Will get another deep clean. Maintenance done by non-union staff for now. Other plans being reviewed. No impact on bus operators or service. pic.twitter.com/lMKPx3XdW5
— TTCStuart (@TTCStuart) April 23, 2020
After the assessment, two more TTC employees at the Queensway Garage were found to be positive, making the total now five as of April 22.
The outbreak at the Queensway Garage prompted public health to recommend that all individuals who worked one or more shifts at the garage or spent four hours or more during a shift, between April 12 and April 22, stay home in self-isolation until April 30.
The return to work date is May 1.
Green said that the garage will remain open and will “get another deep clean.”
As the workers remain home, maintenance will be done by non-union staff for now.
“Other plans being reviewed. No impact on operators of service,” Green said.
The transit union representing 12,000 members, ATU Local 113, said one of the new positive cases is a service person who last worked on Friday, April 17.
The second new positive case is a coach technician who last worked Wednesday, April 15.
“ATU Local 113 is reiterating its demands for serious and decisive action to stop this potential outbreak at Queensway Garage from becoming a lethal cluster and spreading any further,” Carlos Santos, President of the union said.
Santos said that all maintenance workers on all shifts at Queensway must be immediately tested.
And, that Queensway facilities and vehicles must be immediately deep cleaned, including but not limited to all maintenance and transportation amenities such as tools, touchpoints, and counters.
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Since the pandemic began, the transit system has been implementing various measures to protect staff and customers.
Starting on March 18, paper transfers stopped being handed out to customers, and residents could only pay with a PRESTO card to avoid spreading the virus.
On April 1, buses were added to busy routes to ensure there wasn’t overcrowding on buses, and five days later, on-boarding and exiting of buses through the rear doors was initiated.
On April 8, vinyl collapsable barriers were installed in buses to provide extra security for operators, and on Monday, 25,000 reusable masks were delivered with an expected 75,000 over the next three weeks.
Last week, Mayor John Tory said that TTC ridership has gone down 80% from the pandemic, costing the transit system $20 million a week in revenue.
As of Wednesday, 27 TTC employees have tested positive for coronavirus and 217 are in self-isolation.