Local restaurant victim of COVID-19 case allegations on social media

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Yesterday a screenshot of an email which was alleged to have been sent out by an employee of the Ontario Finnish Resthome Association started circulating on social media. The email had a subject line “Tim Hortons possible Covid-19” and was sent out with a high importance flag.

The contents of the email went on to state that there was a potential positive case at a local Tim Hortons restaurant, where a person had gone for testing after exhibiting symptoms. To make matters even worse, the email went on to state that people should avoid the location “if you happen to stop for coffee”… “Just to be extra safe.”

First and foremost, the potential response to such an allegation could very well result in the closure of the restaurant similar to what happened last week in Hamilton, Worker at Hamilton McDonald’s charged after fake positive COVID-19 test closed restaurant: police. In this case, an 18-year-old employee was charged with fraud and mischief after police say she provided a fake medical note saying she had COVID-19. The McDonald’s location had to close for a few days and other employees were told to self-isolate.

In this case, the financial damage that would result to both the franchisee and employees during these difficult times would also have a definite impact. We did speak with the franchisee and they were understandably extremely upset with this incident and even violated corporate policies in an attempt to defend the unsubstantiated claim.

Management at OFRA were quick to respond once finding out about the email, issuing the following statement:

“It has come to our attention that a snapshot of an e-mail bearing OFRA’s logo has been circulating throughout social media regarding a suspected case of COVID-19 at a nearby fast-food chain.

The snapshot was taken by an OFRA employee, who will be identified as quickly as possible and reprimanded for spreading unsubstantiated rumours about an upstanding business in our community.

OFRA extends its apologies to this valued community business and will take corrective action immediately.”

It is completely understandable that these are very trying times with an abundance of uncertainty. Most are more than a bit anxious, frustrated and even scared. We can’t stress enough how important it is to look to credible information sources such as the resources listed on the right hand side of our COVID-19 Flatten the Curve page. It is very important for everyone to do their part, practice social distancing, self-isolation if you have symptoms, and be supportive of family, friends and neighbours. We are #InThisTogetherSSM!

IMPORTANT NOTE: Words alone don’t seem to express enough the tremendous gratitude we have for all front-line workers across a wide range of essential services and businesses!!! Healthcare, grocery, restaurant, fuel, transit, service, delivery and every other worker out there getting up each day to make sure we all can get through these difficult times. It has never been more important to support local!

8 COMMENTS

  1. Regardless if the email is accurate, the employee who took a screen shot of it, and posted it to social media very likely has breached a confidentiality agreement they would have with their employer. I am sure as the OFRA is a health care facility, the employees would hav such an agreement in place, and further if its a regulated health professional it would not only be a breach of their agreement with the facility but professional misconduct with their regulator.

    I dont see an issue with an employer who comes into information that could potentially put their facility at risk for putting out such a notification recommending to avoid certain places that may place their workforce at higher risk of exposure. The issue here is someone took it upon themselves to take an internal communication and making it public, which is at minimum a breach of confidentiality. This could carry severe consequences civilly also should the employer wish to to seek damages for the action of the employee. A good lesson to learn in the importance of watching what you sign as an employee and knowing what is a potential breach in your agreements.

  2. So what happens when the issue that was released is true? Does the person fired get to pull an uno reverse card and fire everyone for trying to keep it a secret?

  3. I like how this article completely dodged telling the public that it is in fact true that the employee had to go for testing and that they are waiting results. That location has several nursing homes as well as the hospital near it, a lot of individuals who work at those homes and the hospital stop there on their way to work by no fault of their own, so this email was obviously sent out to help warn and potentially prevent the spread of this deadly virus. I respect that the business can take a big hit financially but the public safety ESPECIALLY the individuals in the nursing homes and hospitals is what is most important, hopefully this individual is negative but if they are I wish them a speedy recovery and hope the restaurant will take proper mesures.

    • It is *not *ok to circulate an unofficial letter on social media about the status of COVID 19 at any business. If there is an issue with necessary closure/quarantine it should be handled by Algoma Public Health. So, if a person has concerns about the matter, this agency should be contacted.

      Also, we are to believe that the writer of this email has their facts straight and that the public is getting the whole story? So, I can see where Sault on Line didn’t want to validate the assertion as truth.

      Lastly, the idea that it is written on a third party letterhead is beyond disgusting, at least to me. This has nothing to do with the Finnish Rest Home Association – why drag them into it? A beef with them? I hope that if the writer is a health care employee, that they are charged with mischief, severely disciplined by the agency, and reported to their licensing college if they are registered staff.

      • “so this email was obviously sent out to help warn and potentially prevent the spread of this deadly virus”

        We can assume no such thing. Trumpeting the ‘warning’ all over social media rather than contacting the health authorities suggest mischief and fear mongering, not a person acting in good faith.

  4. Thank you for sharing this with the public. If nothing else this needs to be a reminder that we should only be trusting official sources when it comes Covid-19. The misinformation floating around social media will do nothing but harm.

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