BC businesses could lose one-third of staff due to Omicron: Henry

Jan 4 2022, 10:21 pm

BC health officials addressed the province today in regards to the latest on the surging Omicron COVID-19 variant, and some of the information that was revealed could be worrying for businesses.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry was joined by Health Minister Adrian Dix at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, the first BC health conference of 2022. Henry remarked that she hoped this was the last time we would have to start a year with COVID-19 news.

One of the key takeaways of the presser was when Henry suggested that as much as a third of the workforce in BC could be impacted by COVID-19 and Omicron.

BC’s provincial health officer began by talking about the current state of the variant.

“The Omicron variant of concern has taken over the Delta variant and is now the cause of over 80% of the new cases that we’re seeing across British Columbia,” she said.

Due to Omicron’s rate of infection, Henry suggested that many businesses will likely be impacted by staff shortages. She stressed the importance of keeping businesses running, suggesting that some businesses may need to adapt to operate at reduced numbers.

Henry suggested that BC businesses would need to implement contingency plans due to the temporary loss of staff to the Omicron variant, and encouraged businesses to implement a vaccine mandate. She also encouraged those who can work from home to do so.

“We’ll be dealing with high numbers of people who are off ill, and that may mean off work or school. It means health care workers and educators who aren’t able to go to work because they’re ill,” said Henry. 

“Given this rate of transmission, the short incubation period, and the high number of people that are getting ill, we need now all businesses to put contingency plans in place to keep businesses operating when staff are off ill.”

Henry also had a message for schools directly, saying it was important to keep schools open, and that they may need to continue to operate with reduced staff, adding that it is “essential that we keep our schools open for children.”

She again expressed the importance of sticking to the layers of protection, including physical distancing, wearing masks, and getting vaccinated.

“It’s not about public health orders and us telling you what to do. This is about activating all of those layers of protection available for your business, in your situation, to keep you from having to shut down because you don’t have enough people to operate.”

She added that while the vaccine may not prevent you from being infected with Omicron, it could mean the difference between a mild and severe illness.

Amir AliAmir Ali

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