Toronto

Peel Public Health partially closes 3rd Amazon distribution centre to control COVID-19 outbreak

Peel Public Health has partially closed a third Amazon distribution centre to control an outbreak of COVID-19 in that workplace.

Shutdown is attempt to protect employees, their families, wider community, officials say

A person walks past an Amazon Fulfillment Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Peel Public Health has closed three such centres partially to control workplace outbreaks. In all, the public unit has ordered the full closure of two workplaces and the partial closure of 14 others. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Peel Public Health has ordered the partial closure of a third Amazon distribution centre to control an outbreak of COVID-19 in that workplace.

The partial closure of the distribution centre, located at 7995 Winston Churchill Blvd. in Brampton, took effect on Friday. A week ago, the public health unit ordered the partial closures of two other distribution centres, another in Brampton, at 8050 Heritage Rd., and one in Bolton, at 12724 Coleraine Dr. The partial shutdowns will last for up to 10 days.

According to Amazon, the company has suspended one shift at its Winston Churchill Boulevard centre, three shifts at its Heritage Road centre and one shift at its Coleraine Drive centre. The company operates 18 shifts at each of these facilities. Amazon declined to say how many employees have been asked to go home.

All affected employees are receiving full pay and benefits. Employees on these shifts must be tested and must isolate.

"Nothing's more important than the health and safety of our employees and the communities we serve," Dave Bauer, spokesperson for Amazon, said in an email on Saturday.

"Our most recent round of mandatory testing confirmed positivity rate of approximately 1%, and there appears to be little risk of spread within our facilities."

Bauer said the closures will have a "short-term impact on our customers" but the company is working to restore service to previous levels as quickly as possible.

The three closures were ordered under Section 22 of Ontario's Health Protection and Promotion Act. The public health unit has said it will close workplaces that have five or more COVID-19 cases over two weeks and the shutdowns are designed to protect employees, their families and the wider community.

Since last Saturday, Peel Public Health has ordered the full closure of two workplaces and the partial closure of 14 others. It announced five closures on Friday, one full and four partial. The public health unit announces its closures every weekday at 12 noon.

Aluma Systems, 44 Simpson Rd., in Bolton, was fully closed on Friday, April 30, while SHW Pumps & Engine Components Inc., 175 Sun Pac Boulevard Unit 2A, in Brampton, was fully closed on Thursday, April 29.

Peel Public Health has said it strongly encourages employers to provide paid sick leave for employees affected by the closures.

Dr. Lawrence Loh, medical officer of health for Peel Region, has said: 'Workplaces that remain open continue to be a major driver of COVID-19 cases in Peel, as they have been throughout the course of our emergency response.' (CBC)

Dr. Lawrence Loh, medical officer of health for Peel Region, has said: "Workplaces that remain open continue to be a major driver of COVID-19 cases in Peel, as they have been throughout the course of our emergency response.

"At this critical juncture in our pandemic response, the updated provisions in this Section 22 Order are necessary to quickly stop variant transmission in workplaces, support rapid workplace investigations, and protect our essential workers and our community."

A list of the latest workplace closures in Peel Region can be found here.

TPH closes 4 workplaces fully, 12 partially

Toronto Public Health, for its part, has ordered the full closure of four workplaces and the partial closure of 12 others. The public health unit updates its list of workplace closures by 3 p.m every Thursday.

The four workplaces completely shut down in Toronto are:

  • Rex Pak Limited, 85 Thornmount Dr., closed on April 23.
  • McDonalds-P.G Miller Enterprises Ltd., 6170 Bathurst St., closed on April 26.
  • Meat & Co. Boutique Inc., 145 Bethridge Rd., closed on April 26.
  • Trend Line Furniture Limited, 166 Norfinch Dr., closed on April 26.

On Wednesday, April 28, TPH announced the partial closure of Canada Goose Inc., 33 Commander Blvd., in Scarborough. 

On Thursday, April 29, TPH announced the partial closure of Ellis-Don Corporation, 390 - 440 Dufferin St. The partial closure affects the following subcontractors:

  • Torino Drywall Inc.
  • Tri-Clean Building Services Inc.
  • Zerem Electrical Services.
  • Figure 3.
  • Royalguard Industries Inc.

The closures allow public health officials to investigate workplace outbreaks and make recommendations to employers.

A list of the latest workplace closures in Toronto can be found here.

Closures said to prevent exposures, outbreaks, illness

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's medical officer of health, has acknowledged that workplace closures are difficult for employees and employers.

"It comes at a cost, but it produces a benefit by preventing exposures, outbreaks, illness and virus spread," de Villa told reporters last Wednesday.

"The purpose of the new Order is to separate people who may be infecting each other throughout duration of the work day and then taking those infections home, which under the stay at home order is where most people should be spending the majority of their time these days when they can."

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