Toronto Public Health shuts down first round of businesses with 5 or more COVID-19 infections as part of new Section 22 order
Published Monday, April 26, 2021 5:20AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, April 26, 2021 11:03PM EDT
A McDonald’s restaurant, a car dealership and a cosmetics store are among the businesses that have been fully or partially shut down through a new directive from Toronto Public Health that businesses where five or more employees have tested positive for COVID-19 must contact health officials.
Toronto Public Health has ordered four businesses to close down completely and seven to partially shut down, the city said in a news release Monday evening.
The Section 22 order was issued by Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and came into effect on April 23. Aimed at helping to curb workplace spread, it requires owners and operators to contact TPH as soon as they become aware of five or more cases associated with the workplaces within a 14-day period.
Public health officials then determine whether a full or partial closure of the workplace is necessary.
TPH launched several investigations last week and released the initial results on Monday evening.
The full closures include a McDonald’s restaurant in North York, a meat business in Etobicoke, a west-end car dealership and a North York fire safety business.
The partial closures include a range of businesses spread across the city, from construction, to beauty products to furniture stores.
Speaking at a news conference Monday afternoon, de Villa said that TPH was informing the businesses today so that they could take "immediate action."
De villa said she hopes people “find reassurance” in the order and said it is meant to reduce risk “on a carefully applied basis.”
She said that whereas public notifications about cases at businesses in the past were mainly meant to inform members of the public who may have visited those businesses, the latest order is meant to help protect the workers themselves.
“The purpose of the new order is to separate people who may be infecting each other throughout duration of the work day and then taking those infections home, which under the stay-at-home order is where most people should be spending the majority of their time these days when they can,” de Villa said.
She said most of the places that might be affected by the order are not spots where the general public tends to go.
“So the priority – the real difference the order seeks to make – is in getting employees apart first and reducing the threat of subsequent spread and serious illness to their families and those they see regularly where they live,” she said.
In a news release, the city said the Section 22 order allows TPH room to “expeditiously respond to workplace outbreaks.”
Toronto Public Health is publishing the workplaces under “active outbreaks” on its website and said it will continue to do so weekly.
A similar order has also been put into effect in Peel Region, where there have been a high number of workplace outbreaks.
The third wave of the pandemic has seen a shift in focus from long-term care homes to workplaces as the key driver of new infections. Many doctors have advocated for better protection of workers as they see more people who are not able to work from home, and their family members, ending up in hospital ICUs.