To brace for the potential impact of the Omicron variant, medical officer of health Dr. Thomas Piggott issued two letters for businesses with protocols designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in “high-risk settings.” All measures go into effect on Wednesday, Dec. 15.
As of Monday morning there were 54 active cases in the health unit’s jurisdiction but no reported cases of the Omicron variant.
“More stringent measures are needed now in high-risk settings to prevent a surge of COVID-19 cases as other jurisdictions are experiencing,” stated Piggott. “These measures focus on keeping local businesses open while ensuring they can operate safely and protecting staff and patrons.”
Workplaces are instructed to shift all non-essential employees to remote work arrangements, except where on-site presence is required.
Essential staff must adhere to existing protocols such as face coverings and physical distancing. Social gathering is prohibited and can only take place in designated event facilities where public health measures can be enforced. Recommendations include staggering lunch times to avoid crowded areas.
The entire letter of instruction for workplaces can be found on the health unit’s website.
The health unit says food premises will be expected to comply with the following instructions:
- The maximum number of patrons seated at each table does not exceed 10 people.
- Ensure patrons seated at separate tables are distanced by at least two metres, or separated by an impermeable barrier.
- Patrons may only consume food and/or beverage only while seated.
- Modify buffet-style food service to permit only one table at the buffet at a time, and ensure patrons wear masks at all times when accessing the buffet.
- Ensure all serving staff (including waitstaff and bartenders) are provided and wear appropriate personal protective equipment when in close proximity to patrons.
- Advise patrons to wear tightly-fitting face masks when they are not actively eating or drinking. This includes when moving throughout the premises or while socializing at their table.
Full details for food premises can be found on the health unit’s website.
Piggott says as Delta and Omicron variant cases increase in Ontario, precautionary measures are needed until a greater proportion of the population has received a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Piggott also acknowledged that current vaccinated individuals can also transmit the infection. As a result, he says “multiple strategies” are important to reduce the spread of the virus.
“We know transmission is happening in mixed groups of older and younger, vaccinated and unvaccinated, and that is why these protective instructions are required in the Peterborough area,” he said.
However, he says provincial data reveals “this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” highlighting Ontario’s case data as of Dec. 6:
- 8.8 cases per 1,000,000 people in the hospital with COVID-19
- 3.3 cases per 1,000,000 people in the ICU with COVID-19
- 164.9 cases per 1,000,000 people in the hospital with COVID-19
- 94.6 cases per 1,000,000 people in the ICU with COVID-19
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