Updated: Apr 12, 2020
With the COVID-19 virus circulating, there seems to be more panic going around, undoubtedly driven by the media. Visiting stores for simple necessities seems like a mission. It is not the end of the world, it is a pandemic, and we all just need to take a few deep breaths and think about this sensibly. Take precautions to ensure you have enough stock for a two-week quarantine if the need rises. There is no need to “panic buy” everything in the store. There are several precautions we can take, while we ensure our communities also have enough supplies.
To Help Yourself:
Stay home if you are sick or feel unwell.
Limit physical contact with each other to prevent transfer of viruses.
Practice frequent hand hygiene and coughing and sneezing etiquette.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Other Precautions You Can Take:
Think about how you will need to change your behaviours and routines to reduce the risk of infection. Whether it is shopping at off-peak hours or exercising at home instead of the gym.
Think about what you will do if you become sick or if a family member becomes sick and needs care.
Communicate with employers about options for working remotely. Employers should not require a sick leave note as this will put added strain on the limited health care services.
2. Fill your prescriptions ahead of time
Ensure you have enough of your prescriptions to last at least 2 weeks in the event you become ill. If you do not have enough connect with your health care provider to renew prescriptions ahead of time. Ask your pharmacist if they can deliver if you become sick. Remember, if you are getting delivery, ask them to drop it at the door for your safety and theirs.
3. Stock up on essentials but avoid panic buying
Check your cupboards to ensure you have enough supplies to last until you or your family member is no longer sick.
Purchase non-perishable food items so that you do not need to go shopping if you become sick.
Slowly build your stock up to ensure everyone in your community can purchase what they need as well. This will also alleviate some of the stress on the supply chain, so shelves aren’t empty.
The main reason for stocking up and having these supplies on hand is to ensure you do not need to leave your home at the peak of the outbreak or if you become ill.
4. How to care for those who are ill
If you or a member of your family become ill, there will be precautions to be taken at home. Your health care provider will advise you if hospital care is more appropriate.
5. Get reliable information
Make sure information about COVID-19 or any other viruses come from reliable sources. Reliable sources of information include: The Public Health Agency of Canada, provincial and territorial public health authorities.
6. Communicate with family, friends and neighbours
Let your family, friends and neighbours know that you are making plans to prepare for COVID-19 and share your plans with them.
Use a buddy system in which you agree to check in on each other and run essential errands if you become sick.
As a community we should be social distancing ourselves. This means minimizing close contact with others during the peak of an outbreak, staying home while ill, and plan for actions to take to reduce the spread of infection in places we gather. In some cases, we might have to cancel some of the events and reduce public services to ensure the community is protected.
For schools and daycares, it may not be possible to shut them all down because of high economic and social costs, as it impacts many families who may be working outside of the home. But measures can be taken before a mandatory shutdown, such as, increasing desk space between each other, regular cleaning of frequently touched surfaces, after school activities cancelled, etc.
More post-secondary schools have switched from physical classes to online to limit the contact and gathering of crowds.
Employers and Employees have a role to play in reducing the spread of infection.
1. General precautions
Increase awareness through communication with staff.
Evaluate the workplace for areas where people have frequent contact with each other and shared objects and disinfect frequently.
Increase the distance between desks and workstations, as well as, the distance between employees and customers (ideally 2 metres).
Encourage frequent hand hygiene, sneeze and cough etiquette, and staying home when ill.
Ensure frequent cleaning, with particular attention to high-touch surfaces.
Provide access to handwashing areas, and place hand sanitizing dispensers in prominent locations throughout the workplace, if possible.
3. Flexible work arrangements and sick leave
Where feasible, adjust policies to reduce social contact, such as: flexible hours, staggering start times, remotely working, using email, internet and teleconferencing, etc.
Relax sick leave policies to support employees in self-isolating, ill or taking care of family members who are ill, or possible school closures. Suspending the need for medical notes is recommended to reduce the burden on our already stressed health care system.
Ensure you have your business continuity plan for how to maintain key business functions if faced with high absenteeism. Consider the need for cross-training personnel to function in key positions.
4. Business travel
Reduce business travels for your safety and consider virtual meetings. If you still want to travel, please check latest information and travel notices provided by the governments.
Workplace closure may be considered in an exceptional circumstance and should be based on a risk assessment, such as, the majority of the employees are ill, and it is impossible to run the business.
Proceed with caution and stay safe.
Please take this seriously and try to avoid panic. Please also help your neighbours and community in this time of need. Use a buddy system to ensure you are all healthy and safe. Ask the elderly or those who are sick in your neighbourhood if they need something. Help the community as much as you can. As an employer, be flexible and accommodating.
If your staff can work remotely, let them, you hired them to do the job, so trust they can get the job done no matter the location. For your employees who are unable to work remotely, ensure they have appropriate working environments and resources at their disposal.
CBC Market place has a great video on how to prepare yourself for a pandemic.
Visit our website regularly to view the latest “News and Updates” on issues that impact you, your business and the industry.