With the global spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), CAAR is advising all retailers to take additional health and safety precautions in the workplace. 

While no one can predict the severity or extent of a COVID-19 outbreak in Canada, retailers should consider how they can best protect themselves and their employees, while helping to decrease the spread of the disease, should an outbreak occur. 

Retailers can take a proactive stance to minimize the impact on their operations by creating a plan that addresses the following objectives: (a) reducing transmission among staff, (b) protecting people who are at higher risk for adverse health complications, (c) maintaining business operations, and (d) minimizing adverse effects on other entities in their supply chains. 

  1. Reduce transmission among staff: Identify possible work-related exposure and health risks to your employees. Emphasize hand hygiene and cough/sneeze etiquette, increase the frequency of surface cleaning and disinfection of workstations and public areas, and encourage sick employees to stay home.
  2. Maintain business operations: Monitor and respond to absenteeism at the workplace and implement plans to continue your essential business functions in case you experience higher than usual absenteeism. Cross-train personnel to perform essential functions so that the workplace can operate even if key staff members are absent.
  3. Protect people who are at higher risk: Some people may be at higher risk for severe illness, such as older adults and those with chronic medical conditions. Plan to minimize exposure between employees and also between employees and the public, if public health officials call for social distancing.
  4. Minimize adverse effects on other entities in the supply chain: Assess your essential functions and the reliance that others and the community have on your services or products. Be prepared to change your business practices if needed to maintain critical operations (e.g., identify alternative suppliers, prioritize customers, or temporarily suspend some of your operations, if necessary).

The World Health Organization (WHO) advises employers to start taking steps now, even if COVID-19 has not arrived in the communities where they operate. For more information on preparing your workplace, visit: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/getting-workplace-ready-for-covid-19.pdf 

Additional information for employers: 


Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/WHO/Government of Canada/Ontario Health 

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