The City of Hamilton has issued active screening protocols for retailers in scenarios where the customer enters the store (e.g. not for curbside pickup). This means retailers will need to ask the following questions of customers before customers enter the premises:
- Is the customer experiencing COVID-19 symptoms?
- Has the customer been outside the country in the past 14-days?
- Has the customer been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?
If a customer answers “Yes” to any of the three questions, the retailer is to deny that person entry to the store and share with the customer that he/she should (1) self-isolate, and (2) seek assessment and testing.
For businesses with only one employee on the premises (e.g. convenient stores, gas stations, small retail stores), there is no active screening requirement. Instead, a passive screening requirement is acceptable (e.g. you place a sign at the entrance to the establishment with the three COVID-19 screening questions).
RCC has been in constant communication with Hamilton public health officials. At this time, the health table at Hamilton will not revisit its Section 22 Health Order. Health officials have agreed to remain in touch with RCC and will reassess the situation in a week if (1) COVID-19 case numbers have decreased, or (2) if Hamilton is moved into the grey lockdown zone (as, there are no active screening requirements at this time in lockdown zones).
Hamilton noted these extra restrictions are intentional and meant to tighten requirements to avoid being moved in a lockdown. Hamilton wants to keep their businesses open for as much of December as possible and these new active screening requirements are intended to support that goal.
Regarding active screening, RCC understands that something is tracking from the province. RCC is involved in that conversation at a provincial level. Because Ontario has not issued any guidance on active screening, there is no provincial requirement to screen customers. To be clear, Hamilton is currently the only area in Ontario where active screening of customers is required. If regional public health informs you that active screening is a provincial requirement, please let RCC know – this is a common misconception among health units. RCC has been educating various health units in that regard over the past three weeks. For more information, contact Sebastian Prins at firstname.lastname@example.org.