COVID-19 consulting: Ontario business provides best tactics for safe reopenings

For months, businesses have been struggling to do whatever they can to stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many companies, small and large, have sought out the advice of infectious disease experts to design ways to keep customers and their staff safe.

“I went to the professionals and said, ‘I need you to design a program for me,’” said Aubey Yaphe, owner of Forest Hill Village Gym in Toronto.

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When Yaphe wanted to reopen his fitness facility after Ontario entered Stage Three, permitting gyms to operate again, he sought out the help of Practice Health Check.

“Sometimes too much knowledge causes anxiety,” said Dr. Kevin Katz, chief medical officer of the Toronto-based consultancy.

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While there’s no shortage of information and advice available online about precautions — like hand washing, wearing a mask, maintaining physical distancing — he said every business has individual needs and challenges.

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“Now is a good time to look at that, because the (case) numbers are at the lower end,” said Maja McGuire, the company’s president.

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McGuire said organizations’ infection control requirements are different depending on the kind of business. For example, a dental office’s requirements will be different from those at a law firm, or a retail store.

She said while companies may manage their front-lines with customers safely, they may not be taking the same precautions in locations like lunchrooms, where employees go to relax.

“Sometimes the off time when the masks are off have higher risks,” McGuire told Global News.

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Katz described a “swiss cheese” approach to making workplaces safer, explaining that more engineering controls–including health checks, clear signage, and proper staff training can reduce but not entirely eliminate any risks.

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In the case of Forest Hill Village Gym, one of the company’s clients, Katz said owner Yaphe is following the best practices: each work station is large and well apart from others, there are sanitizing wipes and garbage receptacles.

“It’s very tight on the protocols,” Katz said.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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