All city of Ottawa Employment and Social Services offices will be closed for in-person service until the end of the 28-day COVID-19 lockdown, following a spike in COVID-19 cases at the office on Walkley Road.
Four employees at the Walkley Road lcoation have tested positive for COVID-19 over the past week.
In a memo to Council, Business Support Services Manager Natalie Johnston said as part of the investigation by Ottawa Public Health, Employment and Social Services (EES) was advised that there is "new evidence of possible transmission" between three employees at the location at 2020 Walkley Road.
The fourth employee to test positive for COVID-19 has been working at home since July, and is not associated with the workplace cases.
The Employment and Social Services Office on Walkley Road was closed for the day on Dec. 29, before reopening on Dec. 30 after no other high-risks contacts were identified.
"With the rise in COVID-19 test positivity rates in our community, ESS is taking additional precautionary measures by modifying on-site services at all four ESS offices," said Johnston. "This decision was made with the goal of using an abundance of caution to continue to prioritize the safety of staff, clients and visitors."
Effective Monday, January 4, 2021 until the end of the provincial lockdown, currently scheduled for January 23, 2021, the following service modifications will take effect:
- The limited on-site counter and document drop off services will no longer be available. ESS will provide services by phone, email, mail and MyBenefits. Document drop-off will be available from outside the ESS offices
- Exceptionally, and by appointment only, arrangements may be made for in-person service at an ESS office.
- Minimal daily staff on-site and staff changeover within the offices
Johnston said that since March, approximately 98 per cent of client interactions have taken place over the phone or online, and 97 per cent of clients now receive electronic payments.
Staff working on-site will need to wear a mask at all times and physical distancing markers will be located at each office.