Alberta Government provides list of exempt workplaces, clarifying recent COVID-19 public health orders regarding workplace closures

In follow up to a recent Dentons Employment and Labour Blog Post detailing recent public health orders in Alberta (CMOH Order 19-2021 and CMOH Order 20-2021), the Alberta Government has provided some clarification about when and how workplaces and businesses may be forced to close when COVID-19 cases are detected, and which businesses may be exempt from the recent orders. The full update can be accessed: here.

As a recap, the public health orders containing the workplace closure measures came fully into effect on Monday, May 10, 2021, and ordered that workplaces experiencing a “cluster” of COVID-19 cases would be subject to a mandatory 10-day closure if an investigation determined that the “cluster” was a result of transmission that occurred in the workplace. A “cluster” is defined as three or more cases. The mandatory closure may include a partial or full workplace closure, depending on the circumstances.

The Alberta Government has provided guidance about the factors that will be considered to determine whether a business will be ordered to close for 10 days, including:

  • Are there plausible routes of transmission and close contact potential in the workplace? 
  • Have other community exposures or close contacts with other known cases occurred?
  • Has a common offsite exposure (e.g., carpooling, social gatherings, etc.) occurred?
  • Have the cases occurred within a limited window that links them together?
  • Do public health officials have other reasons to believe that transmission has occurred onsite?

Workplaces may appeal a closure order through the Public Health Appeal Board if they believe there has been an error in the investigation.

The Alberta Government also clarified which workplaces are exempt from the workplace closure measures. Exempt workplaces include:

  • Public safety and security (Fire, Police, 911 Call Centres, Correctional facilities, Hazardous materials management)
  • Health and Medical (Hospitals, Emergency health services, Regulated health services)
  • Utilities (Water treatment, Electricity and energy, Telecommunications, Waste Management)
  • Warehouses
  • Petrochemical (oil and gas industry and associated work camps)
  • Commercial Construction
  • Airports
  • Schools (excluding administration)
  • Childcare settings (Daycares and Dayhomes)
  • Shelters and Social Programs
  • Continuing Care
  • Residential Addictions Treatment
  • Animal Welfare Organizations
  • Agri-food Industries (Farming, Ranching, Food Manufacturing)
  • Public Transit
  • Courts

The following workplaces and business are subject to closure, but with exceptions, which may allow continuation of critical services where no other alternative exists:

  • Grocery stores
  • Pharmacies
  • Pet stores
  • Funeral homes
  • Transportation services (except trucking and long-haul transport)
  • Financial services
  • Office work
  • Small and large manufacturing
  • Hotels and motels
  • Small trades companies

For ongoing updates about how workplace closures may affect your business, please watch the Dentons Employment and Labour Blog or contact the Employment and Labour group to obtain advice tailored to your business. 

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Cristina Wendel

About Cristina Wendel

Cristina Wendel practices employment and labour law from Dentons’ Edmonton office. Cristina advises and represents employers in all aspects of occupational health and safety matters, including day-to-day compliance, incident response, investigations and defending employers charged with occupational health and safety offences. She also represents federally and provincially regulated, unionized and non-unionized employers in a variety of employment and labour law matters such as wrongful dismissal claims, employment standards disputes, human rights issues, labour arbitrations and labour relations board proceedings.

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Sarah Offredi

About Sarah Offredi

Sarah Offredi joined Dentons Canada LLP’s Alberta Labour and Employment group as an associate in 2020 after completing composite articles in criminal defence and civil litigation.

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