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COVID-19 safety blitz coming to big box stores this weekend

Health inspectors are heading out this weekend to inspect big box stores to ensure they are complying with COVID-19 public health measures.

The blitz will be taking place on Saturday, Jan. 16 and Sunday, Jan. 17 as part of the province’s recent state of emergency announcement and stay-at-home order.

Durham Region Health Department public health inspectors will be joining the province’s enforcement counterparts, as well as local bylaw and police officers to help protect both customers and workers as COVID-19 number continues to rise.

Inspections will focus on ensuring proper protocols are being followed by both workers and customers, including wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing, and following all other public health and safety measures.

Inspectors will have the authority to ticket supervisors, employees and customers who do not comply with COVID-19 public health requirements, or temporarily close a business.

According to the region, the most common complaints surrounding non-compliance has been improper mask use, lack of employee screening and improper sanitization.

Since the beginning of the second wave in September 2020, the health department has responded to more than 4,700 inquiries and complaints related to businesses, organizations and the public in regards to non-compliance of COVID-19 public health measures.

Those found not following the rules can be subject to fines, including a $750 fine for not following the rules and a $1,000 fine for preventing others (including employees or other workers) from following the rules.

Maximum fines can be up to $100,000 for individuals and $10 million for a corporation. Failing to follow the rules can also result in prosecution or a year in jail.

For more information and a list of sector-specific resources to help business owners and operators create a workplace safety plan, visit www.durham.ca/reopeningtoolkit.
Additional resources can also be found at www.ontario.ca/covidsafety.

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