The situation around the COVID-19 Pandemic is changing rapidly with a number of developments occurring over the past 24 hours. Both the Government of Canada and Province of Ontario have advised against unnecessary international travel. The Province of Ontario has issued a number of enhanced public health measures to mitigate the spread of the COVID 19 virus including closure of publicly funded schools until April 5; the requirement for any children returning from travel outside Canada to self-isolate for 14 days; a requirement for all daycare centres to actively screen children, parents, staff and visitors; the immediate suspension of all large scale events of more than 250 people; and encouraging people to practice social distancing (staying 2 metres apart.) The province has also expanded their on-line resources to assist Ontarians.
To support these measures the County of Dufferin is taking the following actions to protect staff, clients, visitors and residents:
- March Break programming at the Museum of Dufferin has been cancelled;
- Implementing staggered work days/hours and work from home options where appropriate on a department by department basis;
- HR will be actively screening all staff members returning from vacation (outside of Canada) before they arrive at work;
- All job interviews will now take place via Skype;
- Dufferin Oaks has restricted visiting hours from 11 am to 7 pm, is actively screening everyone who enters the facility and has moved to a single point of entry at the main doors;
- Enhanced cleaning is taking place in all buildings and preparations are being made to ensure individual workspaces will have access to additional cleaning options (meeting MSDS requirements);
- Implemented daily Emergency Control Group updates with key personnel.
At the same time, the County of Dufferin is committed to supporting the community and our most vulnerable residents during this difficult time. We will make every effort to continue to provide services that people require and will provide daily updates with respect to the availability of County services. The services may be provided via alternative methods such as on-line and via phone. Additional resources to support more people working from home are being investigated and steps are being taken to ensure those who continue to work onsite have the equipment and tools they need to perform their jobs safely.
The publicly funded school closure order does not include childcare centres. Please see the notice from Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health. At this time Jean Hamlyn Daycare remains open and the screening outlined by Public health will commence first thing on Monday morning. The situation will be closely monitored and could change at any time. We have heard from our own staff and others in the community that childcare is a significant concern. We may look to see if at some point we can operate a small childcare service in the EarlyON Centre in Shelburne for some of our Long Term Care staff who may have no alternative childcare arrangements and would not be able to come to work.
A local COVID-19 assessment center is set to open next week at Headwaters. It will be a drive-thru service. The County is providing logistical support by providing tents and our emergency services trailer.