Hamilton Public Health Services (“HPHS”) has issued a Section 22 Order (the “Order”), under the Health Protection and Promotion Act (“HPPA”), which allows for the closure of workplaces with five (5) or more COVID-19 cases, and implements notification requirements where two (2) or more COVID-19 cases are identified in connection with a workplace premises. The Order is in effect as of May 4, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.
The Order does not apply to licensed child care programs, health care providers and health care entities, and schools and school boards licensed under the Education Act, subject to certain conditions.
Pursuant to the Order, all persons who own, operate, or occupy a workplace or persons responsible for a business or organization in the City of Hamilton, where employees or the public are present, are required to immediately notify HPHS where two (2) or more COVID-19 cases are identified in connection with the workplace within a 14-day period.
Further, where there are two (2) or more COVID-19 cases related to the workplace premises, or if notified by the HPHS, all persons who own, operate, or occupy a workplace or persons responsible for a business or organization in the City of Hamilton, where employees or the public are present, are required to ensure that the following steps are taken:
- prepare the list of close contacts of the persons and provide the list to HPHS, when requested;
- notify the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board;
- provide contact details of the most responsible decision-maker at the workplace premises and ensure that this person is readily available for contact by HPHS to implement any additional measures as immediately required by HPHS;
- follow all HPHS instructions pertaining to contact tracing and identifying workers who need to isolate, including ensuring that any instructions as specified by HPHS are communicated to workers; and
- cooperate with staff and representatives from HPHS including allowing entry into the workplace premises for inspection and to support enhanced infection prevention, control measures and recommendations.
In addition, all persons who own, operate, or occupy a workplace or persons responsible for a business or organization in the City of Hamilton, where employees or the public are present, are required to immediately notify HPHS as soon as they become aware of five (5) or more individuals who test positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period in connection with their workplace.
Closure of Workplaces
Pursuant to the Order, the HPHS may require the full closure of the workplace premises, or a shift or work area mass dismissal, for a minimum period of 10 calendar days, or as specified by HPHS, where:
- a workplace premises has five (5) or more laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases within a 14 calendar-day period where the cases could reasonably have acquired their infection in the workplace premises, or where no obvious source of infection has been identified outside the workplace premises; and
- the City of Hamilton is in the “Grey Lockdown Zone” under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, or a Shutdown Zone has been enacted by the province.
The HPHS may also require “other significant interventions” where such interventions are necessary to address the circumstances at a specific workplace premises.
Importantly, the following workplaces may be exempt from a full closure requirement:
- first responder emergency services such as fire, paramedics, police and their communication services;
- critical infrastructure such as water/wastewater treatment facilities, utilities, telecommunications and IT, transportation, and energy;
- government services; and
- services required to maintain the health of animals.
Temporary access to a closed place of business is authorized, unless otherwise prohibited by any applicable law, for the purposes of:
- performing work at the place of business in order to comply with any applicable law;
- allowing for inspections, maintenance, and repairs to be carried out at the place of business;
- allowing for security services to be provided at the place of business; and
- attending at the place of business temporarily,
- to deal with other critical matters relating to the closure or reopening of the place of business, if the critical matters cannot be attended to remotely; or
- to access materials, goods, or supplies that may be necessary for the business to be operated remotely.
Further, for clarity, nothing precludes a business form operating remotely without persons attending at the workplace premises.
Persons who fail to comply with this Order may, on conviction, be liable to a maximum fine of $5,000 for every day or part day on which the offence occurs or continues. Corporations may, on conviction, be liable to a maximum fine of $25,000 for every day or part day on which the offence occurs or continues.
A copy of the Section 22 Order can be found here.
If you have any questions about this matter, other COVID-19 related issues, or would like any other workplace law assistance, please contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer, or refer to the Firm’s COVID-19 website resources.