Workplace closures and a new Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant in BC

April 20, 2021 | Veronica S. C. Rossos, Jenifer C. Gentle

In a recent joint statement, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, have advised that a new provincial health officer Expedited Workplace Closure Order is in place.

Effective April 12, if an investigation determines that transmission has occurred at a workplace, an order may be issued closing the workplace for 10 days (or longer) to stop the transmission.  In large complex worksites, the closure may be restricted to the part of the site where transmission has occurred.  During the closure, WorkSafeBC will support the workplace to review and enhance safety plans as needed.

In determining whether a closure order is necessary, consideration will be given to an overriding public interest in keeping the workplace open. This includes workplaces such as police stations, fire halls, health-care facilities, schools, shelters, BC Ferries, public transportation and distribution hubs for necessary goods (i.e., pharmacies and grocery stores which distribute food and medicine).

According to the joint statement, this order is being implemented because workplaces “continue to be sustained areas of transmission, clusters and outbreaks.”

On a more positive note, the BC Government has announced that it will provide more than $50 million to help the 14,000 restaurants, bars, breweries, wineries, gyms and fitness centres affected by the March 30, 2021, provincial health orders.

The new Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant will provide impacted businesses between $1,000 and $10,000 depending on the number of employees.  The funding can be used for expenses, including insurance, employee wages, maintenance, utilities, and unexpected costs that resulted from the restrictions, such as the purchase of perishable goods.

Applications are expected to open the week of April 12, 2021, and will remain open until June 4, 2021, or until the funds are dispersed.

For more information, see the government’s press release.  Businesses can visit the government’s website to register to receive an email notification when applications open.

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