Mental health: Newfoundland loosens COVID-19 rules for ‘rotational’ workers

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador is rolling out new COVID-19 testing rules for people who routinely work outside the province and return on a set schedule.

These so-called rotational workers typically include those employed in the offshore energy sector, the airline industry or at work camps out West, where the rotation is often two weeks on and two weeks off.

Under the existing rules, all workers returning home from another part of Canada — besides the Atlantic region — are required to self-isolate for 14 days, which means the time off for rotational workers often expires before they are allowed to end their isolation.

Janice Fitzgerald, the province’s chief medical officer, said today the rules will be relaxed for rotational workers to improve their work-life balance and mental health.

Beginning Sept. 9, rotational workers returning home from outside the Atlantic region can arrange to be tested for COVID-19 between Day 5 and Day 7 of their isolation, and they can end their isolation after seven days if they test negative and have no symptoms.

Fitzgerald said, however, those who test negative must avoid large crowds and wear a non-medical mask when interacting with people outside their household bubble.

She said the new rules will remain in place during a four-week trial, after which the rules could be loosened further.

The new rules do not apply to workers coming from outside Canada or from an area in Canada with an active outbreak under investigation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 4, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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