Eight workers from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. tested positive for COVID-19 last month, prompting Toronto Public Health to declare a workplace outbreak at Scotiabank Arena and order restrictions at the Toronto Maple Leafs home.
The outbreak, discovered through rapid on-site antigen testing, forced around 20 maintenance and event staff to self-isolate from April 21. Healthy staff can return to work on Wednesday May 5. No area of the building itself has ever been closed.
In a statement, the MLSE said it “supports employees required to self-isolate or affected by this closure with paid time off provisions and continues to use mandatory on-site COVID-19 rapid testing to ensure safety of the employees involved in the ongoing process. site operations. “
The outbreak came as the Leafs were on a road trip out west, which began with a two-game battle against the Vancouver Canucks, who had just returned to play after COVID-19 tore the team and kept her off the ice for over three weeks.
The outbreak placed MLSE on the city’s most recent workplace outbreak list. Under provincial health legislation, Toronto’s medical officer of health, Eileen de Villa, can issue what is known as a section 22 order to restrict operations at a workplace. Such an order can close, partially or totally, a workplace with at least five related cases of COVID-19 or other evidence of transmission.
Restrictions under section 22 generally last for at least two weeks.
Dr de Villa assumed power in Section 22 at the end of April and the city has since applied it to 20 workplaces. It ranges from car dealerships to fast food restaurants, from construction companies to furniture makers. MLSE is the only sports-related company to be included on the list.
The MLSE has been running mandatory rapid tests for about three months on all visitors to the Scotiabank arena, including staff and media covering Leafs games. Testing is also in place at other MLSE sites, including the Toronto FC training center, where an MLSE spokesperson said testing revealed a separate positive case.
Although rapid tests are less accurate than laboratory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, with false negatives in 30% of cases, they are considered a key tool in the arsenal to stop the virus, in especially in places where large numbers of people may congregate.
“The testing protocol has been very important in the whole process of keeping people safe, and when a positive test is identified, to be able to contain it and trace all contacts, to make sure everyone stays safe. . themselves, but also keeps the community safe, ”said Dave Haggith, senior director of communications for MLSE.
Scotiabank Arena is normally the home of the Toronto Raptors as well, but this team has been forced to play their home games in Tampa this season as the Canada-U.S. Border is closed, just as the Toronto Blue Jays have been forced to. base their operations for the start. this season in Dunedin, Florida. The seven Canadian NHL teams play the length of the regular season, which ends next week, and the first two playoff rounds in a single all-Canadian division. Since restrictions on travel to and from Canada will likely remain in place for the foreseeable future, it is not yet clear where the only team that will emerge from the Canadian squad will face an American team in a conference final in the next playoffs – or where he could play his home games in the Stanley Cup Final, if he got that far.