Yesterday saw the ever changing Covid-19 situation evolve further. Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau has tested positive for the virus and the Prime Minister has gone into isolation. The NHL suspended play as did the national soccer league and the MLB has postponed the start of their season. Ontario announced that schools would close for 2 weeks after March break. British Columbia’s number of confirmed cases increased to 53. And with that increase came a significant move from the British Columbia government. British Columbians are being urged to avoid all non-essential international travel, including to the United States. Anyone who travels outside Canada is required to stay away from school or work for 14 days upon their return and event organizers have been directed to cancel any gatherings larger than 250 people.
What does this mean for BC workplaces? There are a number of things that employers need to be doing to keep workers safe and to keep operations going as much as possible. The following steps should be taken:
- Make sure that all members of your workplace are aware of the new directive from the British Columbia government and in particular that if they travel outside of Canada they must stay away from the workplace for 2 weeks after their return;
- Have measures in place to ensure that anyone travelling outside of Canada is kept out of the workplace for 14 days following their return;
- Now is the time to ensure that your remote working arrangements are working well. Run tests to ensure that if the necessity arises as many workers as possible are able to continue their functions without attending at the workplace;
- Consider implementing measures to have individuals working from home now;
- Tell employees to stay home if they are exhibiting any symptoms of cold or flu including coughing, sneezing, fever or respiratory symptoms;
- Encourage employees to stay home if there is a risk that they have been exposed to the virus either through contact with other individuals known to have potentially been exposed or being around individuals who have been in high risk areas;
- Encourage self-reporting of exposures by assuring workers of privacy and that their employment will not be negatively impacted; and
- Do all that you can to keep the workplace clean and to have readily available washing facilities for those in the workplace.
The situation will continue to evolve and will continue to place pressures on managing the workplace. Anticipate that further measures will be implemented by the government including up to what was seen in Huhan and Italy. It will take changes in behavior to control the outbreak and workplaces can and should be leaders in this change.