Medical Officer of Health Issues Letters of Instruction for Local Workplaces and Food Premises

Written by Communications, December 13, 2021

Increased Public Health Measures Required to Prepare Community for Impact of Omicron Variant

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Thomas Piggott issued two Letters of Instruction today for workplaces and food premises designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in high-risk settings as the community braces for the impact of the Omicron variant.

“More stringent measures are needed now in high-risk settings to prevent a surge of COVID-19 cases as other jurisdictions are experiencing,” said Dr. Piggott. “These measures focus on keeping local businesses open while ensuring they can operate safely and protecting staff and patrons.”

“I continue to be deeply concerned about the health of the population in the face of the storm that is brewing with Omicron and will act swiftly with additional measures if they are necessary to prevent transmission,” he stated.

Effective December 15, 2021, local workplaces are instructed to shift all non-essential employees to remote work arrangements, except where on-site presence is required. Essential staff who must remain on-site must keep 2 metres physical distance from each other and stagger lunch times to avoid crowded eating areas. If a workspace does not allow for physical distancing (e.g. in vehicles or confined workspaces), workers must wear tightly-fitting masks. Social gatherings are also prohibited in workplaces, and can only take place in designated event facilities where public health measures can be enforced. Full details can be found in the December 13, 2021 Letter of Instruction for Workplaces available here.

Also taking effect on December 15, 2021, food premises will also be expected to comply with the following instructions:

  • Ensure that the maximum number of patrons seated at each table does not exceed 10 people.
  • Arrange the premises to ensure that patrons seated at separate tables are distanced by at least 2 metres, or separated by an impermeable barrier.
  • Allow patrons to consume food and/or beverage only while seated.
  • Modify buffet-style food service to permit only one table at the buffet at a time, and ensure patrons wear masks at all times when accessing the buffet.
  • Ensure that all serving staff (including waitstaff and bartenders) are provided with, and wear, appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when in close proximity to patrons who are eating and/or drinking. PPE includes the following:
    • A medical-grade, tightly fitting face mask; and
    • Eye protection, such as a face shield or safety glasses.
  • Advise patrons to wear tightly-fitting face masks when they are not actively eating or drinking. This includes when moving throughout the premises or while socializing at their table.

Complete details can be found in the December 13, 2021 Letter of Instruction for Food Premises found online here.

Dr. Piggott explained that Ontario is experiencing increased rates of transmission of COVID-19, primarily as a result of high circulation of Delta and Omicron variants of concern. Today’s provincial data revealed the majority of cases of COVID-19 are identified as Omicron. Therefore, precautionary measures are needed until a greater proportion of our region has received a third dose of COVID-19 vaccination.

Dr. Piggott went on to say with the emergence of the Omicron variant, it is clear that vaccinated individuals can also transmit the infection. Therefore, multiple strategies are important to reduce the spread of the virus.

“We know transmission is happening in mixed groups of older and younger, vaccinated and unvaccinated, and that is why these protective instructions are required in the Peterborough area,” he said.

Vaccination continues to be strongly recommended by Dr. Piggott as provincial data reveals this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. According to data as of December 6, 2021, unvaccinated residents are experiencing more serious health outcomes:


·       8.8 cases per 1,000,000 people in the hospital with COVID-19

·       3.3 cases per 1,000,000 people in the ICU with COVID-19

·       164.9 cases per 1,000,000 people in the hospital with COVID-19

·       94.6 cases per 1,000,000 people in the ICU with COVID-19

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For further information, please contact:

Brittany Cadence

Communications Manager

705-743-1000, ext. 391