Despite the rules laid out in the Reopening Ontario Act, officials found many businesses in Guelph, Wellington County and Dufferin County were in violation of COVID-19 safety protocols.
Between Feb 25 and Feb 28, 54 provincial offences officers, three public health inspectors and six local bylaw officers visited 572 businesses in the area based on recommendations from Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.
The majority of businesses inspected, 81 per cent, have 25 employees or less, and many were closed to the public during the provincial shutdown.
Because of this, the first inspection involved educating and assisting businesses affected by the closure.
Of 572 businesses visited, 45 per cent were found in compliance with rules preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, while 55 per cent of businesses were in violation.
Common violations reported by officials include failing to comply with capacity limits, not actively screening workers before entering a business and not having safety plans.
As a result, 114 formal warnings, 51 occupational health and safety orders and 28 tickets were issued. Follow-up visits with these businesses will take place over the next few weeks.
Harry Godfrey, a press secretary with the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, explains in an email the results to date have demonstrated that the majority of businesses are doing the right things and those that need help can be coached into compliance without penalties.
Godfrey adds in the email this includes enforcing and promoting the following: screening requirements of workers and essential visitors entering workplaces, wearing of masks and PPE (when required), workplace safety plans for businesses in the public health levels required by the new COVID-19 Response Framework.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development announced the hiring of an additional 100 occupational health and safety inspectors to support future business inspection campaigns. These officers will participate in a condensed, five week training program before being deployed on July 1, 2021.