Multi-Res Best Practices- Planning For And Responding To COVID-19

In view of the inquiries we have been receiving at the
office, we have issued the Bulletin below which is targeted for Multi-Res and
Commercial Landlords.  Hopefully it is of
some assistance to you in the course of managing the COVID-19 (coronavirus)
scare.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Generally, if there is a presumed or confirmed case of
COVID-19 in your building, it is recommended that you contact your Insurer and
follow any direction given from it; furthermore, as it is most likely that
medical direction will be given by local health officials, follow that
direction.

Since landlords have a legal “duty of care”
to tenants, it is important that Notice be posted at building entrances, common
area Notice Boards and common areas generally to advise of the situation and of
the information set out in sections 1 and 2 below.

Health Canada, the World Health Organization, and the
American Centre for Disease Control have made a number of recommendations to
aid the public in preventing and addressing the spread of COVID-19. Many of
these recommendations are applicable to owners of multi-residential or
commercial properties faced with reports that a tenant, employee, or visitor to
their property has been diagnosed with a suspected case of COVID-19.

In particular, these public health organizations have
provided guidance on:

1. How to provide notice
of suspected cases of COVID-19

2. Steps owners and
employers can take to mitigate the spread of the virus

3. Implementing an
Infectious Disease Business Continuation Plan

1. Notice to Residents, Employees and Visitors

  1. If an employee or
    resident is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers  should inform fellow employees and residents
    of their possible exposure to COVID-19, but maintain confidentiality as
    required by the Personal
    Information and Protection and Electronic Documents Act
    [1]
  2. Instruct all residents
    and employees to self-isolate and contact their primary healthcare provider if
    they have a fever, respiratory symptoms, or believe they are sick.
    Self-isolating individuals should avoid having visitors to their home and avoid
    any contact with immune compromised individuals and older adults. They should
    remain in their residence until instructed otherwise by their healthcare
    provider.[2]
  3. Instruct residents and staff that in general, the
    following can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to
    others:

1. Wash you hand often, for at least 20 seconds

2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with
unwashed hands

3. When coughing or sneezing:

i.
Cover your mouth and nose with your arm or tissues to reduce   the spread of germs

ii.
Immediately dispose of any tissues you have used into the garbage as soon as
possible and wash your hands afterwards[3]

  • Refer residents to their local health unit, Health
    Canada, and the World Health Organization websites for up-to-date protocols.
  • Help counter stigma and address any staff or resident
    negative behaviours, including negative statements about race and COVID-19.[4]
  • Infographics on preventing the spread of the virus may
    be displayed in common areas, example of these can be found at:
    https://www.ccohs.ca/outbreaks/

2. Steps to Mitigate Spread of the Virus

Common Areas

  1. Practice routine cleaning
    of frequently touched surfaces including: doorknobs, light switches, elevators,
    windows, and common areas furniture (tables, chairs, electronics).[5]
  2. If surfaces are dirty,
    they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to
    disinfectant.[6]
  3. Ensure that the disinfectant you are using to clean
    common areas is effective against COVID-19. If the product’s label does not
    have a broad spectrum claim, consider switching clean products. Canada has not
    yet compiled at list of cleaning products effective against COVID-19.  However, the Centre for Disease Control (USA)
    has provided a list of common disinfectants that have been pre-approved as effective
    against COVID-19.[7] Among these disinfectants are a number of
    Clorox, Lysol, and Purell products. The full list of products may be found at:
    https://www.americanchemistry.com/Novel-Coronavirus-Fighting-Products-List.pdf
  4. Follow the manufacturer’s
    instructions for all cleaning and disinfectant products (concentration,
    application method, contact time, and use of personal protective equipment).
    This will ensure that the products are effective and staff are safe when using.[8]
  5. If there are common area
    bathrooms or visitors bathrooms, ensure that they are adequately supplied with
    soap, water, and drying materials.[9]
  6. Provide alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60%
    alcohol for use in common areas.[10] Considering
    placing the sanitizer near entrances and exits of the building, in common areas,
    and near stairs and elevators.
  7. Considering providing
    disposable wipes so residents may wipe down commonly used surfaces after use.[11]
  8. Display notices detailing proper handwashing. Health
    Canada’s recommendations can be found at: https://www.canada.ca/en/healthcanada/services/healthy-living/your- health/diseases/benefits-handwashing.html
  9. Consider whether access to common areas should be
    restricted.  Consider whether the current
    risk of spread of infection warrants restricting the use of community rooms and
    fitness rooms. Decisions to restrict access should be made on a case-by-case
    basis considering the risk of spread of infection.
  10. Advise residents using
    laundry rooms to wash laundry thoroughly and clean the laundry room frequently.
    Clothes and bedding should be immediately removed from machines once the
    washing and drying process is complete. Encourage residents to wash and dry
    their clothing using the warmest temperatures recommended on the fabric label.[12]

Staff

  1. Emphasize staying at home when sick, instruct
    employees to refrain from coming into work especially if they are experiencing
    respiratory symptoms and/or fever.
  2. Do not require a healthcare provider’s note to
    validate an employee’s claim that they are ill with an acute respiratory
    illness. To prevent potential spread of the virus, those who are sick are
    encouraged to stay home and contact their healthcare provider via telephone.

3. Considerations for Creating an Infectious Disease
Business Continuity Plan

An Infectious Disease Business Continuity Plan
addresses how your business will continue to function in the event that a large
number of employees are unable to report to work due to illness. It is
different from an ordinary business continuity plan in that most business
continuity plans assume that people will be able to report to work to address
problems with the building, equipment, products, or services.[13]

  1. Identify and train “back ups” for essential
    (or all) functions.
  2. Consider how you will continue to provide services if
    your service providers are unable to continue their work for you.

    1. Can employees perform these services on an as-needed
      basis?
    1. Do you have back-up service providers?
  3. Research business commitments: Consider possible
    contractual or legal implications for non-performance of functions and
    determine how you will address these commitments in the wake of a staff
    shortage due to illness.
  4. Ensure everyone knows who is next in line for
    management/decision making should someone not be available due to illness. The
    alternatives must be trained to fulfill their roles.
  5. Prepare for how you will address the media in the
    event of an outbreak at your business and consider whether you will need to
    contact insurers or clients in the event of an outbreak.
  6. When developing your plan, seek input from employees
    and other individuals in your organization.
  7. Incorporate reference to
    the preventative measures your business has taken to prevent outbreak.[14]

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to
contact Joe Hoffer at

hoffer@cohenhighley.com or 519-672-9330.

[1]S.C. 2000, c.5.

[2] Health Canada, “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19):
Prevention and risks” (March 4, 2020) <

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/preventionrisks.html

[3]Ibid.

[4]World Health Organization, “Getting your
workplace ready for COVID-19,” (February 27, 2020) <

https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/getting-workplace-ready-for-covid-19.pdf

[5] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
“Recommended Precautions for Preventing Spread of

COVID-19 in Election Polling Locations, including
Cleaning and Disinfection” (March 3, 2020)

< https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/election-polling-locations.html>.

[6] Centres for Disease Control and
Prevention,”Interim Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection

Recommendations for U.S. Households with Suspected or
Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019

(COVID-19)” (March 3, 2020) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/home/cleaningdisinfection.html

[7] Centre of Biocide Chemistries, “Novel Coronavirus
(COVID-19) – Fighting Products” (March 3, 2020)

https://www.americanchemistry.com/novel-coronavirus-fighting-products-list.pdf

[8] Supra note
1.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Centre for Disease Control and Prevention,
“Interim Guidance for Business and Employers to Plan

and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19),
February 2020 (February 26, 2020)

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/guidance-business-response.html

[12]Centre for Disease Control and Prevention,
“Interim Guidance for Preventing the Spread of

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Homes and
Residential Communities” (February 14, 2020)

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-prevent-spread.html

[13]Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety,
“Business Continuity Plan – Infectious

Diseases” (March 6, 2020) https://www.ccohs.ca/products/publications/busn_cont/

[14]Ibid.

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