B.C.’s steep rise in COVID-19 infections is largely a result of social gatherings such as weddings, funerals and parties, but virus contacts spread out to workplaces, schools and senior homes, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says.
After daily positive tests jumped to more than 300 over the weekend, Henry imposed a new order limiting house guests to no more than a family’s “safe six,” advised against Halloween parties and recommended non-medical masks be worn in all public places as B.C. heads into winter.
“As part of this, I’m asking businesses to review your COVID-19 safety plans with this in mind,” Henry said Oct. 26. “If your employees are in a high-traffic area or amongst many people outside of your household while at work, a mask can help protect you and those around you. And we need to wear them as we are going into this season.
“Please also ensure that appropriate protocols are in place in lunchrooms and other spots where people would normally gather because those are also areas where we now see people transmitting this virus to each other.”
WorkSafeBC inspects work places for compliance with public health orders, gives advice to employers and takes questions and reports of possible violations. As of mid-October, WorkSafeBC has conducted more than 17,000 COVID-19 related inspections, with nearly 7,000 of those on service locations such as hotels, restaurants, gyms, hospitals, schools, real estate and hair salons.
The next highest categories for inspections are retail sales operations such as supermarkets and service stations, and construction activities.
“What we are seeing in some work places is the carpooling, the sitting together in the lunch room or having a coffee together and we may need to look at how we do that in a certain businesses and maybe the room where everybody goes to have lunch is too small and we need to find additional spaces for people to be able to keep their safe distance during those times in the workplace,” Henry said.
“In terms of schools, the masking policy we have in schools, particularly for older students, making sure we are all wearing masks when we are in the common areas and, yes, we do need to pay attention to staff, teachers, educators who are also either carpooling to work together, having breaks together, having meetings together.”