B.C. Hydro will soon require workers at the Site C dam to have proof of vaccination, an approved exemption or a negative COVID-19 test in order to return to work.
The change will impact more than 5,000 people employed at the dam construction site near Fort St. John.
Earlier this week, Northern Health declared an outbreak at Site C after 41 people tested positive for the virus, with a further 110 close contacts of confirmed cases in isolation.
In a statement issued by the health authority, officials say the cases are primarily among unvaccinated employees across the site's operation in northeastern B.C.
As of Aug. 16, just 45 percent of people aged 12 and older in the Peace River North region, which includes Fort St. John and Site C, had been fully vaccinated — the lowest coverage rate in the province, alongside Peace River South.
Site C community relations manager Greg Alexis said in an email that, until now, B.C. Hydro had been following safety guidelines provided by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control to encourage voluntary vaccination.
Now, Alexis said, the Crown corporation will be going a step further by requiring workers to provide proof of vaccination, a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of coming to the worksite or an approved exemption.
"We will be working closely with Northern Health, our contractors and project unions over the coming days and weeks to work through and implement these policies as quickly as possible," he said.
Alexis said the new guidelines will apply only to Site C because it is "unique" given the high number of employees who stay in a work camp at one time.
For other B.C. Hydro worksites, he said, the corporation will continue to follow the guidelines set by provincial and regional health officers.