Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health has issued a health order for a retirement home currently experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak.

The order at Heritage House Retirement Living in Guelph comes after multiple infection prevention and control (IPAC) inspections throughout 2020, which identified concerns about personal protective equipment and inadequate physical distancing.

In the order, Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Matthew Tenenbaum said the home needs to screen staff, make sure staff are wearing properly fitting PPE, get all staff and residents tested for COVID-19, clean the home and have hand sanitizer available at all entry points. They also need to make sure staff, residents and visitors can maintain two metres of physical distancing.

Guelph General Hospital has taken management of the home.

"We want to make sure that we can keep the residents safe and healthy, the staff support," said Melissa Skinner with the hospital.

In the order, WDGPH said there were inspections performed on May 14, Sept. 3 and Oct. 30. In all instances, the order said public health followed up with the home to make on "how these deficiencies were to be remediated."

The order also indicated there was inadequate screening at the entrance and inadequate implementation of recommended outbreak measures.

"It's very unusual for public health to actually issue a Section 22 order against anyone," Medical Officer of Health Dr. Nicola Mercer said. "It really is the final step after many, many other steps."

An outbreak was declared at the home on Jan. 21. Officials visited the home for another IPAC inspection on Jan. 22 and found "many of the same deficiencies were noted as were present on previous dates. Additional deficiencies were observed including inadequate active screening at the entrance and inadequate implementation of recommended outbreak measures."

There are four resident cases and one staff case associated with the outbreak.

Skinner said the hospital will likely be operating the home for two months.

"We want to make sure that they have all the resources and tools that we can provide to them so that they are going to be successful," she said.

The order said failing to comply with the order could cost up to $5,000 for each day the offence continues.