EOHU welcomes arrival of province's COVID-19 enforcement teams

·2 min read

The top doctor for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) says he's pleased provincial COVID-19 education and enforcement teams will soon be visiting businesses in the region.

Starting this week, the teams will be showing up at local businesses to ensure they're complying with pandemic guidelines and to educate them on the protocols.

"We're seeing that's kind of a blind spot for us," Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said at a media briefing on Friday.

The aim of the campaign — which will see enforcement teams travel across Ontario — is to help businesses stay safe and open by ensuring they're taking steps to protect employees, customers and the wider public from the virus.

As of Saturday morning, 835 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in the EOHU, which includes communities like Hawkesbury, Alexandria, Clarence-Rockland and Cornwall.

There were 90 known active cases, 714 cases considered resolved and 31 deaths.

Business not to blame: chamber of commerce

"We just want to make sure that people have that heightened awareness, despite the fact that our numbers are going down," Roumeliotis said. "Because they could easily turn around."

The executive director of the Cornwall and Area Chamber of Commerce, Greg Pietersma, doesn't believe businesses are to blame for the virus spreading, however,

"We're dealing with the potential that asymptomatic people are spreading the virus, and I don't know what screening and what requirements can stop that," he said.

"The common cold is still moving around, despite our best efforts."

The EOHU has also been shifting back and forth between the yellow zone — where it currently sits — and the orange zone on the province's pandemic scale, and that's caused confusion and frustration for business owners, Pietersma added.

Businesses are also supposed to have a safety plan developed, something the province's teams will be checking on when they visit the region from Dec. 3 to Dec. 5.

While the focus of the visits is education, the teams are able to lay fines if they find significant non-compliance.