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Town of Wasaga Beach staff not allowed to work from home during pandemic

'Staff that must stay home are required to use vacation time or explore a leave,' says town official
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Photo: Tube containing a swab sample that has tested positive for COVID-19/Shutterstock

*Editor's Note: This story has been corrected from a previous version to reflect Wasaga Beach council is meeting remotely via video conference for regular meeting and in council chambers for closed sessions.

Municipal services in the area are taking different approaches to COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns.

In Wasaga Beach, municipal offices are closed to the public, but staff are not working offsite.

“Staff that must stay home are required to use vacation time or explore a leave,” said Michael Gennings, communications officer for the Town of Wasaga Beach. “The bulk of our workforce remains onsite. Some have taken leaves.”

Gennings said there is a self-screening process in place every employee must go through at the start of the shift.

“They are required to review information about COVID and declare they feel fine to report to work,” said Gennings. “We have stepped up cleaning of all town facilities, implemented enhanced physical distancing measures, and utilized virtual meeting technology for gatherings of more than five people.”

He said municipal services are considered essential services, and as such employees are required to report to work to maintain delivery service. 

The town has laid off 11 casual/part-time temporary employees including three concession staff and eight recreation instructors.

In a press release sent out late March, the Town of Wasaga Beach announced the measures being taken to keep staff working “at minimum risk.”

Those measures include providing cleaning supplies for workstations and handwashing, and offering shifts “where possible.”

Wasaga Beach council is meeting via video conference for regular meetings, and in council chambers for closed session meetings.

While other municipalities have set up a system allowing many staff to work from home instead of reporting to town offices, Gennings said in the case of Wasaga Beach, the risk of an information breach has prevented them from allowing staff to work off-site.

“We had a cyber-attack almost three years ago that has made us wary of the security of confidential information being transmitted over the Internet from off-site locations,” said Gennings.

“We have implemented many of the measures that other municipalities have, including work shifts to increase physical distancing. Should the pandemic situation change, the municipality will consider its options at that time.”

 


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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 13 years of experience as a local journalist
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