Toronto Public Health Releases Section 22 Order to Close Workplaces with 5 or More COVID-19 Cases

Further to our In a Flash published April 20, 2021, Toronto Public Health has published its Section 22 Order (the “Order”) under the Health Protection and Promotion Act for workplaces with five or more cases of COVID-19 within a 14 calendar day period.

The new Order grants Toronto Public Health the discretion to order a full or partial closure of workplaces when a workplace has five or more confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases for individuals who have attended the workplace within a 14 calendar-day period.

The Order also gives Toronto Public Health the discretion to order a full or partial closure of a workplace if there has been less than five confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases for individuals who have attended a workplace within a 14 day period. 

Specifically, Toronto Public Health can order either a full workplace premises closure, or a partial workplace premises closure or shift or work area mass dismissal for a 10 calendar day period. Owners, operators and occupiers of a workplace that has been fully closed must, for the duration of the closure, post signage provided by Toronto Public Health, in a conspicuous location at all entrances to the workplace indicating the workplace is closed.

The Order permits temporary access to a closed workplace, unless otherwise prohibited by any applicable law, for the following purposes:

  • 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 workplace; and
  • attending at the workplace temporarily
    • to deal with other critical matters relating to the closure of the workplace, if the critical matters cannot be attended to remotely; or
    • to access materials, goods or supplies that may be necessary for the business or organization to be operated remotely.

The Order does not apply to licensed child care programs, schools and school boards, and health care providers and health care entities.

Furthermore, the following workplaces may be exempt from the full closure requirements of the Order:

  • first responder emergency services such as Fire, Paramedics, Police and their communication services;
  • shelters;
  • critical infrastructure such as waste/wastewater treatment facilities, utilities, telecommunications and IT, transportation, energy;
  • public-facing or other critical government services;
  • services required to maintain the health of animals;
  • other workplace premises as determined by Toronto Public Health for reasons of health, safety or otherwise where in the public interest.

The Order comes into effect on Friday, April 23, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. At the present time, Toronto Public Health did not specify how long the order will remain in place.

Individuals who fail to comply with the order may face a fine of up to $5,000, and corporations who fail to comply with the order may face a fine of up to $25,000, for every day or part of each day the offence occurs or continues, or a ticket in the amount of $750.

Peel Public Health recently published a similar order. Our summary of the Peel Public Health 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.

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