Keep working from home if it works for you: Manitoba’s chief public health officer to employers

Manitoba businesses should prepare to live with COVID-19 “for the foreseeable future”
WATCH: The province's chief public health officer says businesses have learned a lot about managing through this pandemic, and says that will be a benefit if and when a second wave arrives. Global's Marney Blunt has more from today's meeting of business leaders and provincial ministers.

As businesses prepare for phase two of Manitoba’s reopening plan, the province’s top doctor is encouraging employers to keep employees working from home, if it works for them.

Chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin made the statement during a forum with the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce and the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, along with the premier and other ministers.

“I would still encourage employers who have done well with virtual workplaces, virtual meetings… there’s no reason to necessarily go back unless that’s absolutely vital for the business,” Roussin said.

“If you can still have some employees working from home to reduce crowding, I would encourage you to do so. We have a new normal now.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Winnipeg restaurant shares plans for new dining experience

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Roussin said for employers who need to bring their employees back to work, they need to take precautions including physical distancing when possible and avoiding overcrowding in the workplace when possible.

“Certainly there are businesses where that’s just not possible,” he said.

“Sometimes it just might take a little creativity to do it. So I’d still encourage businesses to look for ways to encourage physical distancing, [like] staggering lunch to avoid overcrowding.”

READ MORE: Manitoba childcare centres to accommodate more children in phase two of reopening plan

Roussin said other precautions businesses can take include hand hygiene, screening employees before their shift and wearing non-medical masks, if they’re used properly.

“They need to be used with the understanding that they don’t protect you, they protect the people around you,” he said.

Manitoba providing clear look at phase two reopening plan; date remains unknown
Manitoba providing clear look at phase two reopening plan; date remains unknown

Roussin also noted that Manitobans need to prepare to deal with this virus for the forseeable future.

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“I think we’re really safe to be doing this because we have measures in place now to protect ourselves. So if we see this virus again, if we see this virus co-circulating with influenza in the fall, which we very well might see, they’re all transmitted in the same way,” he said.

“We just can’t have people showing up to stores coughing, can’t have employees coughing. [You need] to have handwashing, physical distancing.

“So we’ve learned a lot and I think we can still apply that even when we see that second wave, because we just need to be able to live with this virus. We can’t keep things shut down forever.”