|CME Answers Questions on Ontario COVID Restrictions |
Q: When does the emergency measures start and end?
A: It will begin tonight (Thursday) at midnight and will be evaluated after 14 days. It is expected the state of emergency will be in effect for at least 28 days (February 11th). However, this timeframe could change depending on the state of COVID-19 in Ontario and the impact of current measures.
Q: Do employees require a letter from their employer stating that they are an essential worker and can travel?
A: No. While there is a general stay-at-home order in place there is no curfew or any other measure in place that legally restricts movement of Ontarians. Individuals are able to move about for a variety of reasons, including grocery shopping, and stopping those people and asking for proof is not realistic.
Q: Can office workers continue to work inside plants?
A: Generally speaking this is not advised given the provincial emergency orders. The announcement specifically noted that office workers should work from home wherever and whenever possible. While manufacturing has been deemed essential and is allowed to continue to operate, that does not mean that every worker in manufacturing is essential to those day-to-day operations. While there is no strict rule on this, our best advice is that manufacturers would likely have to justify why any individual is required to physically be present if there is a provincial inspection of operations. As such, unless required for day-to-day operations, we recommend workers remain working remotely as much as possible.
Q: Can construction or machinery and equipment repairs take place at our plant?
A: This is more complicated and varies depending on the specific project. Machinery and equipment repairs and maintenance are allowed to continue in essential industries, including manufacturing. Projects that have begun prior to January 12th appear to be OK as well. However, new construction projects in manufacturing, unless they are for healthcare, PPE, or food, are not permitted. If you have a project you are working on and have any questions, we advise getting specific guidance to your situation. CME can help with this as needed.
Q: Are there new workplace safety guidelines and what about increased inspections and enforcement?
A: Provincial workplace safety guidelines are constantly changing; we advise you to know your rights and responsibilities. The latest guidelines are available here and CME has staff who can help answer any questions. CME believes that as long as members are meeting these requirements, which experience tells us you are, that there is no risk or concern for increased enforcement. The government discussed increased inspection and enforcement, however, and this will be targeted at those sectors, companies, and regions who have a poor track record of compliance or where there are specific issues emerging. One area specifically noted, for example, was the retail environment where customers are refusing to wear masks and where the enforcement action and penalties would likely be levied against the customer.
We have been provided a link to a presentation that has more details on the shutdown and the impacts. It is available here and it may answer any additional questions you may have.