BC’s new Expedited Workplace Closure Order

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:

  • Schools
  • Grocery stores
  • Pharmacies
  • Police stations
  • Fire halls
  • Healthcare facilities
  • Shelters
  • 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 BurkesNicole Toye or Jessica Fairbairn.

To read our most recent articles and other updates on COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 Updates page.