Toronto Public Health targets first construction firm with partial closure


Toronto Public Health has partially shut down one construction company among 11 firms in total shuttered completely or partially under new pandemic powers the health department declared last week.

Reliance Construction of McMahon Drive in Toronto was the first construction firm targeted following the launch of the Section 22 Class Order workplace closure program by the health unit.

The first set of closures was announced April 26.

Under the Section 22 program, Toronto Public Health along with Peel Public Health have the power to close workplaces where COVID-19 outbreaks have been identified. The public health units announced they will order workplaces that have reported five or more cases of COVID-19 within the previous 14 days to close for 10 days.

Toronto Public Health has a policy of updating its list of closed businesses as well as a list of businesses hit by COVID-19 outbreaks every Thursday.

“Instructions to these organizations are underway today,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa, medical officer of health, in announcing the closings. “Once they have received written notice, the instructions require immediate action. At that point we will provide the names of the enterprises directed under the Order.

“We will begin to post business closures later today, after they have been properly notified.”

Peel Public Health announced on April 24 that two workplaces, both Amazon fulfillment centres, were being partially closed under the program.

On April 27 Hamilton Public Health issued a statement indicating it is considering implementing the Section 22 Class Order workplace closure program but Dr. Bart Harvey, Hamilton’s associate medical officer of health, noted there are differences in the way COVID-19 has been spreading in Hamilton and the GTA.

“We continue to review the need for moving forward with measures similar to those initiated by Peel Public Health and Toronto Public Health,” stated Harvey.

“We are very concerned about the growing number of variant-related cases as well as outbreaks in all settings including workplaces as we know that at least some of the variants spread more easily and they are connected to more severe disease.

“It is important to note that the epidemiology of COVID-19 continues to look different in different areas of the province. While workplaces continue to be a significant driver of high rates of COVID in Peel, workplace outbreaks account for only about four per cent of recently reported cases in Hamilton.”

When an outbreak is declared at a workplace in Hamilton, Harvey noted, City of Hamilton Public Health Services works with the business on contact tracing and case management, along with providing infection and prevention control guidance.

“On a case-by-case basis, if stronger measures are needed, they will be implemented,” he said.

“We continue to monitor the local situation as it relates to COVID-19 and the presence of variants within the community.”