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Amazon ordered to temporarily close facility near Toronto due to increase in COVID-19 cases

A public health authority has ordered Amazon to close one of its fulfillment centers in Canada for two weeks because of an uptick in the rate of COVID-19 infections at the facility. A public health investigation found that while the rate of COVID-19 infections has been decreasing in the area, the rate inside the Brampton facility, near Toronto, “has been increasing significantly.”

Dr. Lawrence C. Loh, the medical officer of health for the Peel region where the facility is located, said the temporary closure was necessary to help stop the spread of the virus. “This Amazon facility is in a vulnerable community and employs thousands of people. Immediate action must be taken to protect these essential workers and the community where they live,” Loh said in a statement.

Amazon did not immediately reply to a request for comment from The Verge on Saturday, but a spokesperson told Bloomberg the company disagreed with the health department’s decision, and planned to appeal. Employees at the Brampton facility are required to self-isolate until March 27th under the order, unless they tested positive for the virus in the past 90 days and have already self-quarantined.

Last March, Kentucky’s governor ordered an Amazon warehouse in that state closed following an outbreak, and Amazon temporarily closed one of its warehouses in New Jersey back in December.

However, throughout the coronavirus pandemic Amazon has continued to operate most of its warehouses and other facilities even when there were outbreaks of the virus. More than 19,000 of its front line workers had tested positive for the virus as of October, according to Amazon’s own figures, and workers have complained they often learned about outbreaks at their workplaces from external sources, not from the company directly.

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