Effective April 12, 2021, the BC Provincial Health Offer delegated to WorkSafeBC the power under the Public Health Act to serve temporary closure orders on workplaces with known COVID-19 outbreaks, where the medical health officer reasonably believes one or more persons have been infected by COVID-19. A copy of the PHO’s April 11, 2021 delegation of powers to WorkSafeBC’s Prevention Officers can be accessed here and a copy of the Press Release is available here.
Medical health officers at BC’s regional health authorities will continue to consider each workplace on a case-by-case basis, to determine whether a temporary closure is necessary to prevent further transmission of COVID-19, and whether each closure should remain in effect for a minimum period of 10 days, or longer.
For larger, more complex workplaces, these temporary closures may be restricted to the particular areas of the workplace where the COVID-19 transmission occurred.
Certain workplaces may be exempt from these Expedited Workplace Closure Orders, as public health will assess whether there is an overriding public interest in keeping a workplace open, regardless of a COVID-19 outbreak. The PHO specified that this overriding public interest consideration would apply to COVID-19 outbreaks at locations such as:
- Grocery stores
- Police stations
- Fire halls
- Healthcare facilities
- The ferry system
- Public transportation and distribution hubs of necessary goods
These Expedited Workplace Closure Orders are a targeted effort by the government to limit COVID-19 transmission in BC’s workplaces while avoiding sector-wide shutdowns. They serve as a reminder for employers to continue to diligently follow and enforce their COVID-19 Safety Plans to limit workplace transmission, update these plans as necessary, and ensure employees are appropriately notified and trained on these updated plans.
Note to our Readers: Information regarding COVID-19 is rapidly evolving. We are working to bring you up-to-date articles as the legal issues develop and to keep our previous posts updated. Given that the legal issues related to COVID-19 are constantly changing, if you are looking for legal advice or are dealing with an issue in relation to COVID-19, please contact your Harris lawyer or a member of our COVID-19 response team: Sari Wiens, Ilan Burkes, Nicole Toye or Jessica Fairbairn.
To read our most recent articles and other updates on COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 Updates page.