11 warnings, 1 ticket issued by EOHU and ministry officials visiting 263 area businesses in December

41% of establishments contravening rules, says EOHU

EASTERN ONTARIO — Fifty-nine percent of establishments visited as part of an early December blitz were found to be in complete compliance with COVID-19 rules, says the Eastern Ontario Health Unit.

EOHU and provincial officials dropped in on 263 area businesses as part of the Dec. 3-5 “COVID-19 education and enforcement” campaign.

And although 41 percent of the establishments were not complying with the rules in one way or another, representing 145 violations, most were corrected immediately — or shortly thereafter — once brought to the attention of the proprietors, according to the EOHU.

Eleven warnings and one ticket were issued as the campaign focused on educating operators over penalizing them.

The observed contraventions comprised:

• Screening practices (29%): Screening of employees, essential visitors, and patrons (in certain settings) are mandatory.  Most contraventions reported related to the place of business not adequately screening staff.

• Masking requirement (27%): Provincial regulations mandate the use of masks in all indoor public spaces across the province.   Some exemptions apply.  Most mask contraventions referred to staff and/or management either not wearing a mask or improperly wearing one.

• Safety plan (30%): As per the COVID-19 Response Framework, safety plans are required in higher risk settings. Businesses and organizations permitted to open during the provincewide shutdown are required to have a workplace safety plan.  Contraventions were noted when safety plans were either missing or needing improvements.

• Other (14%): The remaining contraventions related to a lack of physical distancing measures and enforcement, inadequate Personal Protective Equipment availability and use by staff, concerns with cleaning and disinfection procedures and practices, lack of monitoring and control of capacity limits, and having the volume of music too high.

Retail establishments — such as grocery, big box, convenience, clothing, hardware, and pharmacies among others — made up most of the visits (156). The rest included restaurants (79), fitness centres (24) and personal service settings (4).

The EOHU says the findings will ensure its staff “can continue to support businesses with their ongoing operations and with the latest reopening following the provincewide shutdown. With several teams in place, the EOHU provides support to, and consults with local businesses, volunteers, and others involved in organizing events and activities.”

The organization adds that its inspection teams continue to visit local businesses. The provincial taskforce is also expected to carry out more inspections “soon.”


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