FALL RIVER: Concern over essential service workers within the civil service sector, who may work out of the province returning to live in a household and exposing those living with them to COVID19, led two Fall River area residents to submit that question to The Laker News.
The Laker News took their question and concern to the provincial COVID media line looking for an answer.
Here is the question as it was asked by one of the two residents.
“Currently there are essential services within civil servant sectors that are working in office on a rotation schedule and working from home the remaining time,” the message said. “The travel rules within Canada, province to province now require those returning to Nova Scotia to self isolate for 14 days.
“However they may be returning to live with other family members. Those family members are now potentially exposed to the virus. We know that someone does not have to be exhibiting symptoms to be carrying the virus. We also know that the majority of positive tests are from those who have traveled.”
The message then went on to get to the meat of their concern/question.
“The question is why are those individuals who are now also potentially exposed told by their employers that they do not have to self isolate if they are not showing symptoms and to report to work as per their rotation schedule? How can employers be assured they are not a risk to other’s in the work place?
“The Premier and Dr. Strang always reference the comment that if you can work from home do so. Many employees can work from home, but the employers may not allow them that option because they say they are not required to self isolate.
“I find it really hard to wrap my head around isolating the risk, but not the people who are living with the risk when we know how highly contagious this virus is.”
In answering the question, Marla MacInnis, one of the provincial COVID19 media spokeswomen, had the following to say.
“If an individual in a household is required to self-isolate, they should remain separate from others in the home, as much as possible,” said MacInnis. “Regularly clean and disinfect common areas, at least daily or as needed.
“It’s important to self-monitor for any symptoms of illness. Others in a household do not have to self-isolate unless the person who is self isolating becomes unwell.”
She spoke about businesses in concluding the response.
“Businesses that remain open must ensure they can maintain social distance of two metres or six feet between clients and customers,” she said. “If social distance can’t be maintained, the business must limit the number of customers or clients on its premises to no more than five people at a time.
“Businesses should regularly clean and disinfect workspaces and high-touch areas at least twice a day or more if required, and ensure employees are practicing good hygiene.”
MacInnis said workplaces have a duty to take precautions to ensure the health and safety of persons at the workplace.
“Furthermore, employers and employees must follow the orders issued under the Health Protection Act,” she said. “If an employee feels their employer is not complying with an order under the Health Protection Act, such as social distancing, they should report this concern to their immediate supervisor.”
She said if the issue is not resolved, they should report to their joint occupational health and safety committee if one exists, and if needed, contact the Safety Branch at 1-800-9-Labour or LAESafetyBranch@novascotia.ca.