Spotty COVID-19 compliance leads to county workshops
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
According to Brittany Wise, Huron County’s Entrepreneur and Business Program Co-ordinator, COVID-19 safety plan compliance has been spotty across the county.
Wise presented a report on the subject to Huron County Council at its April 21 meeting, saying that during an inspection blitz throughout Huron and Perth Counties in February, 64 per cent of businesses were found to be in compliance with the Reopening Ontario Act. However, she said some communities were very compliant, while others were not, which skewed the results. Some, she said, were found to be as low as 30 per cent compliant.
As a result of the blitz, Wise said the top three contraventions were failing to have/post a COVID-19 workplace safety plan, lack of proper screening requirements in place and failure to adhere to and/or post capacity limits.
As a result, she said the Huron County Economic Development Department joined forces with the Stratford Perth Centre for Business, a department of investStratford, to offer free webinars throughout March and April on how to develop a COVID-19 safety plan. The webinars were aimed at general businesses, festivals, events and cultural industries.
Howick Reeve Doug Harding was concerned with the statistics being skewed, he said, when he heard a rumour that Howick businesses were found to be 100 per cent non-compliant, so he asked Wise to elaborate on how that could happen.
She said she didn’t have the figures in front of her, so she couldn’t confirm what Harding was saying. However, she said the enforcement blitz wasn’t perfect. One factor, for example, she said, was that many of the inspections were done on Mondays, a day of the week on which many local restaurants are often closed. She also said that a community being 100 per cent non-compliant wouldn’t tell the whole story, as not all businesses were inspected, just a cross-section for sectors and communities.
She also said that the blitz was also about bringing people up to compliance and directing them as to where they were going wrong, so she expected that many businesses that were non-compliant during the blitz had remedied the situation.
Huron East Mayor Bernie MacLellan also weighed in, saying that a business being non-compliant could mean that they were missing just one aspect of a COVID-19 safety work plan, while many others were firmly in place.
The workshops ran from March 25 to April 28. Wise said early registration figures were encouraging, but they were hoping to see more people register by the time the webinars had concluded.