B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic at the B.C. cabinet offices in Vancouver, March 18, 2020. (B.C. government)

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic at the B.C. cabinet offices in Vancouver, March 18, 2020. (B.C. government)

Many businesses can still carry on, B.C. COVID-19 doctor says

Employers need to provide cleaning options for work space

A large grocery store may have room for hundreds of customers without having them crowd together, and effective application of coronavirus rules will vary from business to business, B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says.

At her daily briefing on COVID-19 preparation March 18, Henry urged businesses to take their own measures to protect customers and staff, making sure there is hand cleaning available.

“For businesses for example, grocery stores, pharmacies, it will vary by the business how you will need to implement these measures,” Henry said. “That will mean enhanced cleaning of your premises, but also for employees so they can clean their hands frequently, they can clean the surfaces around them, and they’re able to have hand cleaning in all parts of the business.”

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Keeping one to two metres of separation between customers can be done differently, such as at one Victoria area produce store where the checkout lineup is marked in squares so people don’t stand too close together.

“If you’re a grocery store that’s a very large one, that may mean that you can accommodate several hundred people without them having to come in close contact with each other,” Henry said. “If it’s a very small business, it may have to be one at a time.”

Henry reminded employers that they should not be asking for doctors’ notes for people who want to stay home, which many people are doing if they have respiratory symptoms or have recently returned from travel outside Canada.

Henry’s latest order has kept schools and bars closed, restricting some restaurants to take-out or minimal seating and shut down all gatherings more than 50 people. People using public transit should also maintain distance between each other, and employees should avoid congregating on breaks and work staggered hours if possible to reduce contact with others.


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