Toronto's fully vaccinated civic staff to return to offices

Mayor John Tory says this is an 'important signal' to other workplaces that a safe return is possible despite new variant

Toronto's fully vaccinated civic staff to return to offices

Fully vaccinated remote workers of Toronto will be returning to their offices starting January 4, according to Mayor John Tory, as the government moves to reopen City Hall and other civic centres despite the threat of the Omicron variant.

In an announcement, Tory said that all city office buildings will reopen to employers at "maximum capacity within the context of public health requirements." This comes as the government also reopens its City Hall, Metro Hall, and other civic centres to employees.

Around 25% of the city's overall 33,000-strong workforce have been working from home throughout the pandemic, according to the local government, with 75% working at the office as frontline staff. For the reopening of the City Hall, even the public will be allowed access to select facilities.

"This will mean the public will be able to access the main floor rotunda, washrooms, library, and counter services on the first floor and attend scheduled meetings with me with councillors and with our team members," Tory said in a press conference.

The city mayor said that its offices will continue complying to public health requirements, with masks, physical distancing, protective barriers, increased sanitation, and cleaning protocols in place as it reopens. To further prepare for the reopening scheme, the city office building will be open starting this week to the "maximum occupancy possible”.

Read more: Toronto to place unvaccinated staff on unpaid leave from November

"Members of Council will have the option to attend Council and Committee meetings in-person or virtually. Until physical distancing measures are lifted, members of the public will continue to participate in Council and committee meetings remotely," read the government release.

Signal to other employers

According to Tory, the city's reopening of its facilities is an "important signal" to other workplaces that a safe return to offices is possible.

"I believe this is an important signal to other workplaces in both the private and public sectors that we can safely return and reinvigorate the economy and the downtown core in the process and do so safely," Tory said.

City Manager Chris Murray also said the reopening is "another important milestone" in Toronto's recovery.

"With the health and safety of employees and the public as the highest priority, the City of Toronto’s re-opening plan will bring employees back to the office, open civic centres to the public and help jumpstart the downtown Toronto," Murray said in a statement.

The announcement comes despite the looming threat of the newly detected Omicron variant of COVID-19.

As of Tuesday afternoon, CTV News reported that seven confirmed cases of the new COVID-19 strain is found in the country, with four detected in Ottawa, Ontario.

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