COVID-19 was first identified on December 13, 2019. It was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on January 30, 2020. This has created some challenges around continuing to work in an office. At MJB Lawyers, we have been and continue to monitor the situation regularly.
(a) The BC Centre for Disease Control’s (BCCDC)website says to watch for symptoms of COVID-19 for up to 14 days after being in contact with others. Symptoms are similar to other respiratory illnesses, including the flu and the common cold. The most common symptoms are i) Fever. Average normal body temperature taken orally is about 37°C. For more on normal body temperature and fevers, see HealthLinkBC's information on body temperatures1;
iii) Cough or worsening of chronic cough;
iv) Shortness of breath;
v) Sore throat;
vi) Runny nose;
vii) Loss of sense of smell or taste;
xi) Loss of appetite;
xii) Nausea and vomiting; and
xiii) Muscle aches.
Less common symptoms include:
i) Stuffy nose;
ii) Conjunctivitis (pink eye);
iii) Dizziness or confusion;
iv) Abdominal pain; and
v) Skin rashes or discoloration of fingers or toes.
(b) Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Some people with COVID-19 have mild illness, but their symptoms may suddenly worsen in a few days.
(a) IF YOU HAVE ANY OF THE ABOVE SYMPTOMS, DO NOT COME TO THE OFFICE. Call HEALTHLINK BC at 811 to discuss your options.
(b) After you have contacted HealthLink BC, contact Sheila Noftall by cell phone (250-571-4632) to discuss further steps. If you are ill, you may use sick time, holiday time, accumulated time, or take time off without pay for this time off. If you are sick more than 5 days, you can claim for short term disability through GroupHealth. The forms are in the h:/benefits info folder or we can email them to you. Please note that there is a specific doctor’s form to complete as well, so please contact us before going to the doctor if possible.
(a) BC’s Provincial Health Officer ordered that, effective at midnight on November 19, 2020, “Employers must ensure that every worker performs a daily health check before entering the workplace. Health checks are mandatory self-assessments conducted by workers and includes confirming with their employer, in written or verbal format, that they have reviewed the complete list of entry requirements (included on this entry check poster) and that none of the prohibited criteria apply to them.”
(c) The health check must be done BEFORE you come to work and then you must CONFIRM that you have done so. You must confirm with reception on a daily basis that you have done the assessment and that you don’t have any symptoms. You can advise reception orally or reply to the daily reminder email.
(a) The federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that COVID-19 spreads from an infected person to others through respiratory droplets and aerosols created when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, shouts, or talks. The droplets vary in size from large droplets that fall to the ground rapidly (within seconds or minutes) near the infected person to smaller droplets, sometimes called aerosols, which linger in the air under some circumstances.
The relative infectiousness of droplets of different sizes is not clear. Infectious droplets or aerosols may come into direct contact with the mucous membranes of another person's nose, mouth or eyes, or they may be inhaled into their nose, mouth, airways, and lungs. The virus may also spread when a person touches another person (i.e., a handshake) or a surface or an object that has the virus on it and then touches their mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands.2
(a)Physical distancing is the best method of avoiding contracting the disease. Stay a minimum of 6feet apart from others. Especially avoid people who are sneezing or coughing.
(b)Hand washing is thought to be the next best way of reducing exposure to the virus. Of course, we can’t see the virus, so wash your hands every time you come onto the premises, and after touching any commonly touched surfaces, such as:
ii)door knobs, and handles;
iii)equipment (photocopiers, staplers, pens, etc.);
iv)taps, kettle & coffee machines; and
v)fridge and cupboard doors.
Use common sense: if you think someone else touched something that you have now touched, then wash your hands.
Proper hand washing means washing with soap and water for at least 20seconds. Wash the front and back of each hand, in between all fingers, and your fingertips.
(c)If hand washing is not available, use hand sanitizer to clean your hands. Apply a dime-sized amount of sanitizer to your hand and rub over all surfaces for at least 20 seconds.
(d)Avoid touching your face. The virus enters your system through mucus, usually through the nose, eyes or mouth.
(e)We are increasing the amount of cleaning done at the office. Both the building janitors and our own janitors are taking extra care around the nightly cleaning. Our building super is doing extra cleaning during the day of stairwells and doorknobs. Extra cleaning is also being done in the office daily. This includes washing commonly touched surfaces as indicated in paragraph 5 (b). It also includes the boardroom and signing rooms after every use. (f) You must wear a mask at all times in our building, EXCEPT when you’re at your desk or if you’re sitting and eating in the lunchroom. If you forget to bring a mask, you can get a paper one from reception. However, I would prefer you don’t use paper ones regularly and add to our ever-expanding landfills.
The other exception is if you are sitting behind a sneeze guard by yourself (ie one person on each side of the sneeze guard). If anyone else needs to go behind the sneeze guard, both people must wear a mask.
When you are using a mask, make sure you do so properly. Go to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website for proper instructions: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks. Masks are only effective when used in conjunction with frequent hand cleaning. 3
(g) Wearing gloves is not recommended to prevent COVID-19 infection for everyday activities. The virus still attaches to the surface of the gloves and they can actually give you a false sense of security.4
(a) We are lucky in that most of our work areas are already spaced at least six feet apart. However, we still need to be mindful of common spaces, such as the elevator, lunch room, and around photocopiers and printers.
(b) Pay special attention to social distancing. Stay at your own desk as much as possible; limit your time in the lunchroom or mailroom; and plan your use of the elevator.
(c) Do not use equipment at other people’s desks, such as phones, staplers, pens, and computers.
(d) Clean your own equipment regularly.
(a) Communication with clients should be done as much as possible remotely. Use phone, email, or videoconferencing where possible.
(b) When you have to meet with a client in the office, please book the boardroom or one of the signing rooms. Remember to put your initials behind the appointment in the boardroom or signing room calendar. Please check all 3 calendars when you are scheduling a client to come to the office and try to stagger their attendance so we don’t have a lot of clients arriving at once. Clients should be attended to promptly when they arrive so they are not sitting in the lobby for any length of time.
(c) Offer handwashing to your client: either in the bathroom or at the boardroom sink. When the meeting is over, leave all used chairs pushed up to the table and equipment on the table so they can be cleaned.
(d) Interactions with staff and lawyers should also be done as much as possible by telephone or email. If you have to go and speak to someone else in person, keep your distance. Be especially mindful of leaning on a counter and talking downwards to a person seated at a desk, so your droplets don’t land on their desk or face.
(e) The number of people in a meeting in the boardroom should be limited as much as possible. No more than 10 people may gather in the boardroom at one time.
(a) There should be no more than 3 people seated in the lunchroom at any time. Maintain social distancing as in all other areas of the office.
(b) Consider bringing your lunch in a container that does not require refrigeration, thereby reducing your need to go into the fridge.
(c) Consider eating at your desk or stagger your lunch break with others.
(d) Place all used dishes in the dishwasher right away. Someone else should not have to touch your dishes!
(a) Personal Travel: The World Health Organization (WHO), Health Canada, and the BC Ministry of Health have issued several travel restrictions or advisories restricting travel outside of Canada. All BC residents who do choose to travel outside of Canada are required to self-quarantine for 14 days after returning home, and this of course applies at everyone at MJB Lawyers. (b) Travel for Work: If you must travel for work, you must follow all guidelines issued by Health Canada and the BC Ministry of Health.
(a) Remember to take care of yourself psychologically as well. For some resources, go to H:\Manuals and Policies\COVID-19 Policies and Information\Your mental health is important too.docx