As the first wave of COVID-19 slows, provinces and territories are beginning to relax stay-at-home protocols. Each region is setting its own rules for which sectors and industries may reopen first, which other activities may resume and on what schedule. (Visit our COVID-19 information page under “Where Can I Get More Information?” for a link to your province or territory’s COVID information).

While some businesses are reopening, we all need to continue our efforts to limit the spread of the virus. Because the impact of COVID-19 may be more severe for people living with arthritis, full precautions are called for when considering a return to work.

  1. Follow your employer’s safety protocols at all times. If you are unclear about the safety protocols in effect in your workplace, speak with your manager, HR or union representation as appropriate.
  2. Wash hands frequently during shifts, do not touch your face without washing your hands, use masks appropriately and avoid touching the inside of the mask.
  3. Where possible, avoid working in confined spaces and keep a distance of at least 2 metres from others. If that’s not possible, use a mask.
  4. Remove your work clothes upon returning home, leave your footwear at the entry, wash your hands, shower, wash your hair and put on fresh clothing before greeting others in your home.
  5. Advise your employer if you have been exposed to someone who is COVID-19 positive, or someone who is showing symptoms and is awaiting test results. You may be required to stay home for up to 14 days unless otherwise advised by your doctor.
  6. Report any development of COVID-19 symptoms to your employer and the local health authority. Stay home unless directed otherwise by your doctor.

If you are concerned about being immunocompromised and being able to maintain physical distance at work, talk to your doctor. You may wish to raise your concerns with your employer to see what options they might suggest. Accommodations might be available to help you work at a reduced risk. You may also wish to review the Government of Canada’s discussion of your rights and responsibilities as an employee, including your right to refuse dangerous work.

For more information on working with arthritis, visit our workplace resources for employees and employers.

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