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Guide serves as gold standard for pandemic preparedness

November 24, 2009
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TORONTO — After fears of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) caused hysteria in her facility, Cheryl Gray, vice president of Bentall Capital, decided to create a manual to ensure preparedness if another pandemic ever surfaced, according to the Toronto Star.
After the SARS outbreak, Gray got in touch with members of the Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada (BOMA) and formed a group that met monthly for 18 months to prepare the 95-page document now used by building managers worldwide, the story stated.
The guide, which some describe as the gold standard of pandemic planning for commercial buildings in North America, looks at basic issues such as how to maintain contact with tenants and employees, preparing for the possibility of closure, travel policies, education and even rent defaults by tenants in the wake of a pandemic, the story noted.
According to the story, the guide argues that employers have a duty to form a pandemic preparedness plan because legislation requires them to maintain a safe and healthy workplace.
Gray said: "We tried to look at everything that could happen. If the cleaning company has a 40 percent absenteeism rate, how are you going to cope with cleaning the premises effectively? Another example might be that some people may not want to take public transit during an outbreak, so they drive in. How do you respond to the need for extra parking spaces? When I finished working on the first manual, I was hoping it would have some value one day. I just didn''t think it would be this soon. People thought, well, that''s interesting, but I guess it didn''t have the kind of relevance and immediacy it has now."
Over the past year, the guide has been fine-tuned with more input from stakeholders including real estate experts, lawyers, insurance and medical experts and scientists, the story added.
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