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Metro Vancouver workplaces must ensure employees conduct daily COVID-19 checks under health order

Click to play video 'WorksafeBC ramping up COVID-19 inspections in Metro Vancouver' WorksafeBC ramping up COVID-19 inspections in Metro Vancouver
WorkSafeBC ramping up COVID-19 inspections in Metro Vancouver – Nov 10, 2020

Four days after introducing strict new restrictions across Metro Vancouver to combat a surge in COVID-19 cases, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is requiring workplaces to put in strict new measures around employee health checks.

The new provincial health orders were posted on Wednesday and include a seldom mentioned requirement for on-site employees at all Metro Vancouver workplaces to be self-monitored daily for COVID-19 symptoms.

“An employer of a worker who is working in a workplace other than the worker’s private residence must ensure that the worker has done a daily health check for the symptoms of COVID-19,” the order reads.

“Employers must review their COVID-19 Safety Plans to ensure that they adequately protect workers from the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace and are consistent with WorkSafeBC requirements.”

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Several questions remain after new regional COVID-19 restrictions introduced – Nov 9, 2020

The provincial order requires an employer who “is not satisfied that a worker has done a daily health check” to not permit the worker to work at the workplace.

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Employers are being asked to encourage workers to work from their private residence if feasible unless there is a preference on the part of the employer or the worker for them to work at the workplace. The order also puts in stricter rules around behaviour at the workplace.

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“Employers must ensure that their COVID-19 Safety Plan includes measures to prevent workers from crowding together or congregating in higher risk spaces, including elevators, lobbies, stairwells, corridors, bathrooms, break rooms and kitchens,” the order reads.

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The orders took effect on Nov. 7 at 10 p.m. and, unless extended by Henry, they will expire on Nov. 23 at noon.

The province has been criticized for a lack of clarity around these orders impacting millions of people in Metro Vancouver. Henry has provided two public briefings on the measures but has not provided them in writing until now.

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The written orders also provide clarity for who can be in someone’s private home.

Read more: ‘If you are in doubt … don’t do it’: B.C. officials respond to confusion over latest COVID-19 rules

“No person may have present at a private residence or vacation accommodation, either inside or outside, a person who does not reside with them,” the public health order reads.

But there are exemptions for people who live alone. Those who live alone in Metro Vancouver may have up to two other persons present at their private residence or vacation accommodation, “if the other persons are individuals with whom the resident regularly interacts,” according to the order.

Click to play video 'Dr. Henry clarifies confusion over new provincial health order' Dr. Henry clarifies confusion over new provincial health order
Dr. Henry clarifies confusion over new provincial health order – Nov 9, 2020

“If the other two persons regularly interact with one another, as well as with the resident, they may be present in the residence at the same time,” the order reads.

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Indoor sports cannot be played if they involve physical contact between the participants, and no one may attend indoor sports events as a spectator unless it is necessary to provide care to a participant.

Athletes are not allowed to travel to and from different communities within Metro Vancouver to play sports under the order, including practice, training, games or tournaments. There is an exemption for athletes identified by Canadian Sports Institute Pacific as a high-performance athlete affiliated with an accredited provincial or national sports organization and are already training in Metro Vancouver.

Read more: These posters show how a wedding, fitness class and worksite became superspreader events in B.C.

The order also ensures no one in Metro Vancouver can organize, host or attend a reception or informal gathering, including at a private residence or vacation accommodation, either inside or outside, before or after a wedding or funeral.

The order officially bans group indoor fitness activities including dance, yoga and spin until guidelines for group indoor fitness activities have been approved by the provincial health officer.