Employees and contractors of nursing homes in British Columbia who do not provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination must undergo rapid tests at the start of each shift and be absent from work for at least 10 days if they are positive, according to the latest public health order from Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer.
Henry first announced his intention to demand information on the immunization status of staff in early June, when the infection rate in B.C. was slowing with the onset of summer and recreational travel. in British Columbia were allowed to resume. The 14-page order was finally issued on August 20, with coronavirus cases on the rise again and a dozen long-term care and assisted living facilities in the outbreak protocol after confirmed infections at inside. Its strict legal language recognizes the right to refuse vaccination under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The order gives facility operators until September 1 to report the vaccination status of workers to the Ministry of Health. It allows authorized medical exemptions for workers whose health may be affected by taking a coronavirus vaccine, and does not prevent unvaccinated people from coming to work.
Instead, they should undergo a COVID-19 rapid test at the start of each shift. If it comes back positive, they are required to leave and arrange for a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test as soon as possible. If the PCR test is positive, the worker must stay away from the establishment for at least 10 days, unless otherwise granted by public health authorities.
Unvaccinated workers who test negative are required to wear masks at all times, except when eating or drinking, and to maintain a distance of two meters from everyone in the establishment, “except resident to whom they provide care “.
Nursing home staff order provides insight into legal situation facing public health authorities as British Columbia prepares to make proof of vaccination mandatory for entry to indoor sporting events , restaurants, bars, high-intensity fitness centers and other shared indoor spaces. The measure is due to go into effect on September 13, when people will need to show proof of a first dose and a full vaccination by October 24.
Henry said the proof of vaccination program will not offer medical exemptions or exemptions for people who have refused vaccination for religious reasons.
“This is a temporary measure that brings us through a risky period where we know unvaccinated people are at a greater risk of contracting and spreading this virus,” Henry said on August 23. “Those rare people who have a medical reason why they cannot be immunized… they will not be able to attend these events during this time.
Religious services are exempt from the proof of vaccination requirement and the province-wide mask mandate for indoor public spaces that was reinstated on August 24. “However, religious leaders are supported to implement these additional measures in their personal service if they wish,” says a bulletin from the BC Center for Disease Control.
British Columbia Legislative Assembly British Columbia Policy Coronavirus