Toronto Public Health and Peel Public Health announced that they will each issue Section 22 Orders that will require certain businesses with five or more cases of COVID-19 in the previous 14 days to close for a minimum of 10 days.

Toronto Public Health’s Section 22 Order

Earlier this week, Toronto Public Health announced that it will implement a Section 22 Order to require the closure of certain workplaces, or portions of workplaces, where five or more cases are identified within a 14-day period and where cases could reasonably have been acquired through infection in the workplace.

The Section 22 Order came into effect on April 23, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. and sets out the following:

Reporting Requirements

The Section 22 Order requires the owner, operator or occupier to notify Toronto Public Health via the online COVID-19 Workplace Reporting Tool as soon as they become aware of five or more individuals (which we note is broader than employees) who test positive for COVID-19 within a 14 calendar-day period in connection with their workplace. This is in addition to the requirements that Toronto Public Health be notified as soon as an owner, operator or occupier becomes aware of two or more individuals who test positive for COVID-19 within a 14 calendar-day period in connection with their workplace.

Workplace Closures

The new Section 22 Order applies to workplaces that have had five or more confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases. Where such a circumstance exists, Toronto Public Health may for a minimum period of 10 calendar days, require full or partial workplace closure, shift or “work area mass dismissal” (the specifics of which will depend on the direction of Toronto Public Health authorities as the term is not defined in the Section 22 Order). It may also require other significant interventions necessary to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission at a specific workplace.

Moreover, the new Section 22 Order also addresses situations where Toronto Public Health determines that significant action is required despite there being less than five confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases. In those situations, Toronto Public Health may for a minimum of 10 calendar days require full or partial workplace closure, shift or “work area mass dismissal” (the specifics of which will depend on the direction of Toronto Public Health authorities as the term is not defined in the Section 22 Order). Toronto Public Health may also require other significant interventions necessary to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission at a specific workplace. 

Exemptions from the Workplace Closures

Certain workplaces may be exempt from the full closure requirements. These include:

  • first responder emergency services such as Fire, Paramedics, Police and their communication services;
  • shelters;
  • critical infrastructure such as water/wastewater treatment facilities, utilities, telecommunications and IT, transportation, energy;
  • public-facing or other critical government services;
  • services required to maintain the health of animals; and
  • other workplaces as determined by Toronto Public Health for reasons of health, safety or otherwise where in the public interest.

Importantly, components of the Section 22 Order would still apply to these workplaces.

Further information on Toronto Public Health’s Section 22 Order can be found within Toronto Public Health’s “Order to Close Workplaces Questions and Answers” document.

Peel Public Health’s Section 22 Order

Peel Public Health announced issuance of an updated Section 22 Order on workplaces (Class Order for Workplaces with COVID-19). The updated Section 22 Order directs all businesses with five or more cases of COVID-19 in the previous 14 days to either close the full workplace premises or shift or implement a “work area mass dismissal” (the specifics of which will depend on the direction of Peel Public Health authorities as the term is not defined in the Section 22 Order) for a 10 calendar-day period (with day 1 starting the day after the business is notified that they must close) where:

  • the cases could have reasonably acquired their infection at work; or
  • no obvious source of infection has been identified outside of the workplace.

Workers are required to self-isolate as follows:

(a) COVID-19 positive workers, workers who have been identified as a close contact, or workers who are or become symptomatic must self-isolate as set out in Peel Public Health’s Section 22 Class Order dated February 24, 2021;

(b) workers of a workplace premises under closure notice who are not symptomatic must self-isolate for a period of 10 calendar days or for such time as the workplace premises is closed.

Additionally, self-isolating employees are not permitted to work in any other workplace.

The following workplace premises are exempt from the full closure requirements of Peel Public Health’s Section 22 Order:

  • Schools/childcare;
  • Pharmacies;
  • Healthcare facilities, including vaccination clinics;
  • Shelters;
  • First responder emergency services such as Fire, Paramedics, Police and their communication services;
  • Critical infrastructure such as water/wastewater treatment facilities, utilities, telecommunications and IT, transportation, energy;
  • Government services;
  • Services required to maintain the health of animals;
  • Other workplace premises exempted from closure by Peel Public Health.

Peel Public Health advised that the names of all affected businesses will be published on its website while they are closed, however, the list will not be published until the first businesses affected are notified this week.

The updated Section 22 Order will be in effect whenever Peel is in the Shutdown or Grey-Lockdown zones of the provincial framework.

We are continuing to monitor for the Section 22 Orders and will update this publication as additional information becomes available.

This update is part of our continuing efforts to keep you informed about COVID-19. If you are an employer and need assistance, please reach out to any member of our Labour & Employment Team or leaders of our Hub for Business Leaders.