Peterborough City and County workplaces are instructed to transfer all non-essential employees to remote working arrangements except when an on-site presence is required, while restaurants face new restrictions starting Wednesday.
The health unit released two letters of instruction for workplaces and food premises on Monday evening aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19 in high-risk settings as the Omicron variant continues to take hold in Ontario.
“Stricter measures are now needed in high-risk settings to prevent a wave of COVID-19 cases as other jurisdictions are experiencing,” Medical Officer of Health Dr Thomas Piggott said in a press release .
âThese measures focus on keeping local businesses open while ensuring they can operate safely and protecting staff and customers.
“I continue to be deeply concerned for the health of the population in the face of the brewing storm with Omicron and will act quickly with additional measures if needed to prevent transmission.”
Under the new health unit order, essential staff who must remain on site at local workplaces must keep two meters physical distance from each other and stagger lunch times to avoid crowded eating areas.
If a workspace does not allow physical distancing, such as in vehicles or confined workspaces, health indicates workers should wear properly fitted masks.
Social gatherings are also prohibited in workplaces and can only take place in designated event facilities where public health measures can be applied under the ordinance.
From Wednesday, catering premises must comply with the following instructions:
- Make sure that the maximum number of customers seated at each table does not exceed 10 people.
- Arrange the premises so that clients seated at separate tables are at least two meters apart, or separated by a waterproof barrier.
- Allow customers to consume food and / or drink only when seated.
- Modify the buffet-style catering service to allow only one buffet table at a time, and ensure guests wear masks at all times when accessing the buffet.
- Ensure that all service personnel (including waiters and bartenders) have and wear appropriate personal protective equipment when near customers eating and / or drinking. PPE includes a properly fitted medical grade face shield and eye protection, such as a face shield or safety glasses.
- Advise clients to wear properly fitted masks when not actively eating or drinking. This includes when they move around the premises or when socializing at their table.
Ontario is experiencing increased transmission rates of COVID-19, mainly due to the high circulation of the worrying Delta and Omicron variants, according to Piggott.
While no Omicron cases have been identified or suspected in Peterborough, provincial data on Monday revealed that the majority of COVID-19 cases in the province are identified as Omicron.
People who are vaccinated can also pass the infection on, Piggott added.
“We know that transmission occurs in mixed groups of older and younger people, vaccinated and unvaccinated, and that is why these protective instructions are needed in the Peterborough area,” he said.
Vaccination continues to be strongly recommended by Piggott. According to provincial data as of December 6, unvaccinated residents have more serious health problems:
- 8.8 cases per 1,000,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19
- 3.3 cases per 1,000,000 people in intensive care with COVID-19
- 164.9 cases per 1,000,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19
- 94.6 cases per 1,000,000 people in intensive care with COVID-19
Peterborough Public Health reported its second COVID-19-related death on Monday in a week earlier.