Public health officers in Toronto and Peel Region are expected to name more businesses on Monday that have to shut down because of COVID-19 outbreaks.
Toronto is expected to provide updates to businesses that are under investigation on Monday as Peel Region prepares to update its list of closings, which began on Saturday. Both regions declined to comment on how many businesses will be impacted, but the two regions combined have 21 workplaces under investigation for potential closings.
Toronto Public Health released a statement on Saturday saying there are approximately 10 workplaces under investigation for potential closings, which “generally do not see high traffic from the general public.”
“The primary objective and principal public health benefit of the Order is to separate employees from one another in workplaces where transmission of COVID-19 is identified and linked to the location,” Toronto Public Health said in a statement.
Peel Public Health is investigating 11 workplaces and announced the region’s first closing on Saturday with two Amazon fulfilment centres ordered to partly shut down after five or more people tested positive for COVID-19.
The announcements came under new Section 22 class orders. Workplaces are now required to notify Toronto Public Health and Peel Public Health if five or more employees test positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period. The order came into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday. Peel Public Health told The Globe the workplace closing list will be updated daily and businesses will be added the day after they have received a closing notice.
“Our team is working through the investigations this weekend and is making determinations for the businesses that will be notified on Monday for closure,” Peel Public Health said in an e-mail.
Amazon’s “partial” closing is identified as a dismissal of a shift or work area. The two facilities that were flagged each operate 18 shifts. The company has temporarily suspended three shifts at its Brampton Heritage Road facility and one shift in its Bolton location.
“Our most recent round of mandatory testing confirmed positivity rate of approximately 1 per cent,” Amazon spokesperson Dave Bauer said in an e-mail. “There appears to be little risk of spread within our facilities. However, following the direction of Peel Public Health, we are temporarily suspending a number of shifts at our Heritage Road and Bolton facilities.”
The company has not released the total number of employees who tested positive but said all employees on the suspended shifts must be tested and self-isolate for about 10 days.
At the same time, Amazon – along with Maple Leaf Foods and Maple Lodge Farms – have been selected by the province of Ontario to run on-site workplace vaccination clinics. The provincial criteria for selecting workplaces includes hot spot location, outbreak data and willingness of the employer to operate and fund an on-site clinic. These same workplaces will then operate local community clinics in partnership with the Region of Peel and community organizations, held at community centres, places of worship or other community hubs.
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