Peel Region and Toronto issue Section 22 Order Shutting Down Workplaces with COVID-19 Cases

06 May 2021

On April 20, 2021, Peel Public Health ("Peel Region") issued an updated class order directing all businesses with five or more cases of COVID-19 in a 14 calendar-day period to close for 10 days (the "Peel Section 22 Order"). 



Toronto Public Health ("Toronto") later announced on April 20, 2021 that it would also issue a similar class order (the "Toronto Section 22 Order").

Both orders by Peel Region and Toronto are made pursuant to section 22(5.0.1) of the Health Protection and Promotion Act, which permits medical officers of health to issue written orders requiring persons in a health unit to take or to refrain from certain actions where there are reasonable grounds to believe that there is an immediate risk of a COVID-19 outbreak, that COVID-19 presents a risk to the health of individuals in the health unit, and that the requirements specified in the order are necessary to decrease the risk to health presented by COVID-19.

Workplace closures: Peel region

The Peel Section 22 Order provides that workplace premises with five or more laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases within a 14 calendar-day period must be closed, or shift or work area mass dismissal must be implemented, for a 10 calendar-day period.

Alternatively, Peel Region may notify a workplace, verbally or in writing, that the workplace must be closed, or that shift or work area mass dismissal must be implemented, for a 10 calendar-day period or for the length of time specified by Peel Region.

The requirement for workplace closures applies where the COVID-19 infections could have reasonably been acquired in the workplace, or where no obvious source of infection has been identified outside the workplace.

Peel Region may also, in its discretion, require other significant interventions where it deems it necessary to address circumstances at a workplace.

The requirement for workplace closures remains in effect while:

  1. Peel Region is placed in the Grey – Lockdown zone under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act or applicable regulations
  2. Ontario has enacted a Shutdown under applicable legislation, or
  3. Under similar provisions in any successor legislation.

Exemptions: Peel region

The Peel Section 22 Order states that the following workplaces are exempt from full closure requirements:

  1. Schools/childcare
  2. Pharmacies
  3. Healthcare facilities, including vaccination clinics
  4. Shelters
  5. First responder emergency services such as Fire, Paramedics, Police and their communication services
  6. Critical infrastructure such as water/wastewater treatment facilities, utilities, telecommunications and IT, transportation, energy
  7. Government services
  8. Services required to maintain the health of animals, and
  9. Other workplace premises exempted from closure by Peel Region.

Workplace closures: Toronto

The Toronto Section 22 Order requires owners, operators or occupiers of workplaces to notify Toronto as soon as they become aware of five or more individuals who test positive for COVID-19 within a 14 calendar-day period in connection with their workplace. This requirement is in addition to the existing requirement to notify Toronto of two or more cases of COVID-19 within a 14 calendar-day period in connection with a workplace.

Where there have been five or more confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 for individuals who have attended a workplace within a 14 calendar-day period, or based on other evidence of transmission, Toronto may require that a full workplace closure, a partial workplace closure, or a shift or work area mass dismissal be implemented for a period of 10 calendar days. Alternatively, Toronto may require other significant interventions necessary to address circumstances at a specific workplace.

If a full workplace closure has been ordered, it is required that signage be posted at all workplace entrances indicating that the workplace is closed.

Temporary access to a closed workplace is permitted for the following reasons:

  1. Performing work at the workplace in order to comply with any applicable law
  2. Allowing for inspections, maintenance and repairs to be carried out at the workplace
  3. Allowing for security services to be provided at the workplace, and
  4. Attending at the workplace temporarily,
    • To deal with other critical matters relating to the closure of the workplace, if the critical matters cannot be attended to remotely, or
    • To access materials, goods or supplies that may be necessary for the business or organization to be operated remotely.

Exemptions: Toronto

The Toronto Section 22 Order states that the following workplaces are exempt from full closure requirements:

  1. First responder emergency services such as Fire, Paramedics, Police and their communication services
  2. Shelters
  3. Critical infrastructure such as water/wastewater treatment facilities, utilities, telecommunications and IT, transportation, energy
  4. Public-facing or other critical government services
  5. Services required to maintain the health of animals, and
  6. Other workplaces as determined by Toronto for reasons of health, safety or otherwise where in the public interest.

Gowling WLG focus

Gowling WLG continues to track the requirements and enforcement of these orders. Please stay tuned to our COVID-19 Insights for further details. If you have any questions about these orders, the members of Gowling WLG's Employment, Labour & Equalities Group would be happy to discuss key concerns and the possible implications on your business.


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