Ontario employers embrace remote work – for now

This, among other measures, seeks to slow down the spread of COVID cases

Ontario employers embrace remote work – for now

Ontario has once again asked employers to make staff work from home as the province takes a step back in its reopening plans amid an uptick of Omicron-driven COVID case numbers. The province in its announcement said that while the new variant is less severe than previous ones, its "high transmissibility has resulted in a larger number of hospital admissions" relative to intensive care unit admissions.

"Staff absenteeism is also expected to rise and affect operations in workplaces across Ontario due to Omicron infection and exposure, including in hospitals and schools," said the province in a statement.

In response to the problem, Ontario has reinstated some regulations to curb the transmission of the highly transmissible Omicron variant. This includes "requiring businesses and organisations to ensure employees work remotely unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site."

Additional regulations include the following:

  • Reducing social gathering limits to five people indoors and 10 people outdoors.
  • Limiting capacity at organised public events to five people indoors.
  • Limiting capacity at indoor weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites and ceremonies to 50% capacity of the particular room. Outdoor services are limited to the number of people that can maintain two metres of physical distance.
  • Retail settings, including shopping malls, permitted at 50% capacity. For shopping malls physical distancing will be required in line-ups, loitering will not be permitted, and food courts will be required to close.
  • Closing indoor dining at restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments. Outdoor dining with restrictions, takeout, drive through and delivery is permitted.
  • Restricting the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. and the consumption of alcohol on-premise in businesses or settings after 11 p.m. with delivery and takeout, grocery/convenience stores and other liquor stores exempted.
  • Closing indoor concert venues, theatres, cinemas. Rehearsals and recorded performances permitted with restrictions.

Read more: Ontario invests $6 million to fight workplace cancers, illnesses

These measures will remain in place for at least 21 days, according to the Ontario Ministry of Health, depending on trends in public health and system indicators.

Meanwhile, Ontario Premier Doug Ford stressed the importance of looking into every option to slow the spread of the Omicron variant while the province continue with its booster efforts.

"Putting these targeted and time-limited measures in place will give us more opportunity to deliver vaccines to all Ontarians and ensure everyone has maximum protection against this virus," he said in a statement.

Ontario has reported 11,582 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, Global News reported, with 2,081 people with COVID-19 occupying hospital wards in the province.  

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