New Pre-entry Screening Requirements

Pre-entry Screening for Covid-19 Now Mandatory for Ontario Workplaces

While many workplaces have already implemented pre-entry screening for employees, effective September 26, all workers and essential visitors to workplaces in Ontario must be screened for Covid-19 prior to entering the workplace. The requirement may not have been immediately clear as there was previously only a recommendation relating to screening issued by the Chief Medical Officer of Health. While recommendations do not typically create requirements, a change to the Ontario Regulation 364/20 The Rules for Areas in Stage 3, which is a regulation under the Reopening Ontario (A flexible Response to Covid-19) Act, 2020, has now made that recommendation a mandatory requirement.

The amendment to Regulation 364/20 is as follows:

Sec 2(3) The person responsible for a business or organization that is open shall operate the business or organization in compliance with the advice, recommendations and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health on screening individuals.

While there is some flexibility in how the pre-entry screening requirement can be implemented, it must, at a minimum, include 3 required screening questions in accordance with the Covid-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces (Business and Organizations) which are generally as follows (refer to the screening tool for the specific questions required):

1. Do you have any new or worsening symptoms or signs of Covid-19 (refer to the Ministry of Health’s Tool for the symptoms to be listed)
2. Have you travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days?
3. Have you had close contact with a confirmed or probable case of Covid-19?

Anyone who answers yes to any of the required questions should not be allowed entry into the workplace (including any outdoor, or partially outdoor, workplaces) and should be advised to go home and self-isolate immediately and contact their health care provider or Telehealth Ontario for guidance if they need a Covid-19 test.

To whom does it apply?

The requirement for pre-entry screening applies to all workers which is considered to include all employees, contractors, students and volunteers in addition to essential visitors which are defined as individuals providing a service in the establishment who are not employees or patrons of the establishment (e.g. delivery, maintenance, contract workers).

Are there exceptions?

The requirement does not apply to customers or patrons of a business (e.g. customers entering grocery, retailer, hospitality businesses) or emergency or other first responders who are entering to provide emergency services. There is also an exception provided for essential workers who travel outside of Canada for work purposes indicating these individuals should not be excluded entry on this basis alone.

What are the requirements for implementation?

While there are no further specific requirements related to implementation, other than those outlined above, consideration needs to be given as to how your organization can ensure, and demonstrate, the pre-entry screening is being completed on a consistent and continuous basis in the event you are required to provide evidence of compliance for regulatory purposes. It also does not preclude, nor mandate, an employer taking additional screening measures they may deem appropriate under their specific circumstances (e.g. temperature checks) in order to comply with their obligations under any other Act or regulation, including the Occupational Health & Safety Act.

Further considerations for employers may include, but are not limited to:

  • Communication of the pre-screening requirement to all workers and essential visitors (e.g. policy, workplace signage, advance acknowledgement required, etc)
  • Place of screening (e.g. onsite or self-screening offsite)
  • Method of screening and record keeping (e.g. Electronic via app or online attestation, physical in-person, oral or written representations)
  • Controls to be implemented to ensure and verify compliance prior to entry into the workplace
  • When individuals excluded from the workplace may be permitted to return and what evidence may be required by those excluded in order to return to the workplace
  • Consultation with legal counsel regarding to the collecting and retaining of medical information in regard to any privacy requirements.

Photo by Cory Checketts on Unsplash
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