Local officials are not concerned with the possibilities of what might happen to small businesses, which are strongly affected by absenteeism caused by the recent COVID-19 increase.
At the latest daily COVID update today, BC Province Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry that – while the province is working on guidelines for mildly ill workers to return to their jobs in key sectors such as healthcare, policing and firefighting – this option is unlikely to be available to the average store owner.
This means a company may have to close if too many of its workers stay away from work voluntarily due to COVID symptoms, Henry said.
“It’s a reality that for some companies, if they have a lot of sick leavers who are unable to work, they will have to find ways to either have extra staff – or they will have to close,” Henry told reporters at the press conference Wednesday afternoon.
“It has been a reality through this pandemic.”
She noted that the key prevents the spread of COVID-19 – especially the highly contagious Omicron variant, which has now pushed the province’s daily new cases to 3,000 – among workers at a place of employment. This means that the burden is on the business owners themselves, not only to ensure that employees are vaccinated, but also that the “protective layers” such as plexiglass, social distance measures and cleaning procedures are in place.
“These are things we want to prevent,” Henry said of companies that may close due to COVID-triggered absences. “The best way to prevent them is to make sure that everyone in your environment is vaccinated and that we have the COVID safety plans – the mindset we had – that worked for us through the last part of the last 24 months. .. back to thinking about what we had in place before the vaccinations. “
The issue of COVID absence and its impact on businesses came to the fore recently during the Omicron wave in the US, as Christmas Eve saw more than 2,000 flights delayed or canceled due to pilots and flight attendants reporting sick due to COVID-19.
Staff shortages caused by absenteeism severely disrupted travel during one of North America’s busiest travel seasons, while reports of similar, staff shortage-driven disruptions were also seen in sectors such as live entertainment and restaurants / hospitality.
Henry said the province is looking at “workability” for health care workers to ensure the overall system can maintain “continuity of care.”
“Obviously, if someone is sick – if it’s with COVID or with another disease – we do not want them in a workplace because it is a risk to others,” she said.
“But there are certain options where we need to have the balance of continuity in care … So we need to look at what are the measures we need to have in place to ensure that – especially people who have mild illness or are asymptomatic – are able to safely perform work in these workplaces if necessary. “