In order to address the continuing effects of COVID, the province declared a state of emergency again on January 12, 2021, effectively issuing a stay-at-home order. The new measures are to be in effect from January 14, 2021 until at least February 11, 2021.
The new measures will directly affect workplaces to varying degrees. Essential workplaces will be forced to limit the capacity of in-store services to between 25% and 50%. Most other business such as retail stores and restaurants will be allowed to operate only on a pick-up or deliver basis. Serious violations of these new measures carry fines of up to $100,000 for individuals and $10 million for a corporation. The minimum fine for those found to be in violation of the lock down measures is $750 for individuals and $1,000 for corporations.
In order to ensure compliance, the province has announced its intention to conduct “inspection blitzes”. Business allow to have in-store shoppers may find that government officials may attend to verify that they are abiding by social distancing and capacity rules, and otherwise, will issue fines to businesses on the spot.
Further to the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the province has indicated that employers must follow various steps in order to prevent COVID in the workplace. Employers will be expected to actively screen workers before entering the workplace every day, develop a safety plan to prevent COVID transmission in the workplace, follow sector specific guidelines (i.e. child care, food services, education), provide protective equipment such as masks, and post notices to the public regarding COVID prevention.
Under the current state of emergency, all maximum prevention measures are in effect. The provincial government has yet to make a statement as to whether they intend to extend the current lockdown beyond February 11, 2021.