BC can now expedite closure of workplaces with COVID-19 transmission

Apr 8 2021, 11:18 pm

Health officials in British Columbia have announced new measures to expedite the closure of workplaces that see COVID-19 transmission.

The announcement was made on Thursday afternoon by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix.

Henry says that workplaces continue to be areas where transmission chains, outbreaks, and clusters occur not only in the province but particularly in the Lower Mainland.

“Whether it’s workers having social interactions and bringing the virus into the workplace and then it spreading, or whether it’s in the workplace itself that the contact is happening,” she explains. “They are one of the most common sources of transmission in our province and it is widespread across many different sectors.”

The new “expedited workplace closure order” will allow for WorkSafeBC inspectors to operate under the Public Health Act and help health officials manage workplace transmission.

The order includes a number of protocols that will be used when three or more employees have COVID-19 at a workplace and it’s determined by public health officers that transmission is occurring.

These measures include testing and investigation of how the transmission may have happened. When it’s been determined that transmission has occurred, public health authorities will also close that workplace for 10 days or longer to limit the spread of the virus.

Henry notes that “there are many workplaces that can’t be closed,” such as police stations, fire halls, healthcare facilities, and transportation hubs. These workplaces will be under the guidance of public health.

“When a closure is ordered, WorkSafeBC will now be able to support the work of public health and serve the closure notice and support the workplace to review and enhance their safety plans as needed,” she said.

“These are places we know we cannot close. But we now have extra resources to help support those workplaces when we have workplace transmission and worker safety is at risk.”

A list of workplace closures and their expected reopening dates will also be made available to the public.

Vincent PlanaVincent Plana

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