21 Feb Ontario lifts COVID-19 Restrictions: how does this affect the workplace?
As COVID-19 has lasted two long years, most people have been anticipating the day where we would no longer need to worry about restrictions and focus on getting back to a somewhat “normal” life. Ontario has recently started to lift COVID-19 restrictions with plans to eliminate most vaccination mandates by March 1st, 2022.
The Chief Medical Officer of Ontario has finally announced that we have found the light at the end of the tunnel, and we no longer require the protection from the province’s safety precautions. Starting March 1st, 2022, the spread of COVID-19 will have officially transitioned from a pandemic to an endemic. Everyone has been waiting for this moment, but it is hard to picture what will be coming next – and what our new “normal” will look like.
So, how will this affect the workplace?
Just because restrictions are lifting does not mean that COVID-19 will not continue to circulate. Proof of vaccination will be lifted for customers in public places like restaurants, but there will be other workplaces that will still deem this mandate a necessity.
There will be some employers that choose to maintain the vaccination mandates and others that will decide to lift them along with the public establishments. It will be up to the employer to decide whether they believe their safety precautions should be maintained. These safety precautions could include simple safeguards like masks, or even more extreme like the proof of vaccination. However, essential establishments like hospitals will most likely continue with the vaccination mandates after March 1st.
In Ontario, healthcare workers were the first to be affected by vaccination mandates where full vaccination status was absolutely mandatory in order to maintain employment. There are predictions that most hospitals will continue with these policies. Many healthcare workers must already show proof of vaccinations for other diseases like the measles. So, showing proof that they have their COVID-19 vaccine will function the same way.
There are already hospitals that have made the decision to continue their vaccination mandates, for example, SickKids, Hamilton Health Sciences, University Health Network etc. It has been their decision to continue with these mandates, because they believe it will keep the public safer, which is their primary goal as healthcare workers.