OHS Canada Magazine

Toronto announces first workplace closures due to COVID-19 outbreaks

Rules allow city to order businesses with five or more linked cases in past two weeks to shut down for 10 days


By John Chidley-Hill

TORONTO — A fast-food restaurant, a car dealership and a makeup manufacturer were among the first Toronto workplaces ordered to close or partially shut down due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

Mayor John Tory said Tuesday that the variety of workplaces illustrate the challenges of determining what’s considered essential, but called on the province to review which employers should be allowed to stay open during the pandemic’s third wave.

“It’s one of those things where it’s not a simple matter, but I think the answer is yes, (the province) should be continually reviewing that list,” he said.

“I understand that they are doing that, I have no idea if that’s going to lead to changes that they are going to make in that list.”

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The provincial government is responsible for determining what industries are essential or non-essential under its COVID-19 reopening framework. It has been criticized for not shutting down more workplaces that could be considered non-essential.

Peel Region to order temporary closure of businesses with recent COVID-19 outbreaks

Last week, Toronto brought in new rules allowing it to temporarily close businesses with recent outbreaks in an effort to protect essential workers.

The rules allow the city to order businesses with five or more linked cases in the past two weeks to shut down for 10 days. During that time, workers would have to self-isolate.

The first set of shut-downs were detailed Monday evening, with the city saying it had ordered the full closure of four businesses and the partial closure of seven others.

They include a McDonald’s outlet, a Nissan dealership and a facility owned by makeup manufacturer Deciem, as well as a construction firm, an aerospace manufacturer, and a dry-goods packager.

Dr. Eileen DeVilla, Toronto’s chief medical officer of health, said that new closures will be announced every Thursday afternoon when the city releases its list of outbreaks online.

“I hope people find reassurance in the existence of this order,” said DeVilla. “It’s meant to reduce risk on a carefully applied basis.”

Neighbouring Peel Region also brought in an order allowing it to close workplaces with outbreaks and partially closed two Amazon fulfilment centres over the weekend.