Officials have reached out to Queen's Park staff who may have been exposed to COVID-19 by an MPP.
Independent Cambridge MPP Belinda Karahalios told QP Briefing she tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 17. An email from legislative assembly Clerk Todd Decker, seen by QPB, said she was last inside Queen's Park the day before, on Nov. 16.
"Those with whom she had contact have been identified and will be advised," he wrote, adding that she followed all COVID protocols, including masking, while in the building.
Karahalios said in a statement that legislative staff "have been helpful in determining any potential contacts (which were few in number) after I showed symptoms and they have notified those individuals."
She said she is tested twice a week in order to access the legislature. Her test on Nov. 14 came back negative, so she went to Queen's Park on Nov. 15 and 16, Monday and Tuesday of last week. Her test on Wednesday, Nov. 17 came back positive, and was confirmed with another positive test on Friday, Nov. 19, she said.
"As a result I will not be able to access the legislature this week to fulfill my duties and no virtual option is available for me to cast a vote," she said.
Someone with COVID-19 may be contagious up to three days before symptoms start.
Karahalios, an outspoken opponent of many COVID-19 public health measures, including mandatory vaccine policies, did not say whether she has been vaccinated. MPPs entering Queen's Park must be inoculated or show proof of negative tests.
Karahalios can be seen in a recording of question period from Nov. 16 sitting between three other MPPs, with one seat between her and a fourth. She didn't have a question that day, which would have allowed her to remove her mask.
Decker and Speaker Ted Arnott did not respond to questions about how many people have been contacted so far and what they have been advised to do.
Karahalios was booted from the Progressive Conservatives in July 2020 after voting against the government's emergency COVID-19 legislation, Bill 195. She and her husband Jim now run the New Blue party, which positions itself as more conservative than the PCs.
She tweeted that she is barred from entering Queen's Park until Nov. 30.
(1/3) Unfortunately, I am barred from debating or voting against Motion 8 because I tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday. I will not be able to enter Queens Park until November 30th. I was sick for a couple of days but am feeling much better.#onpoli @NewBlueON pic.twitter.com/GY91JrcTXP
— Belinda Karahalios (@BKarahalios) November 22, 2021
Premier Doug Ford said he hadn't heard about Karahalios' infection, directing questions to the Speaker.
"That's news to me," he said. "Anyone who catches this, I wish them all the best. I really do. Vaxxed or unvaxxed."
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she hasn't heard about any of her MPPs or staffers being contacted about exposure to Karahalios.
Though the NDP has called for mandatory vaccinations to enter Queen's Park in the past, Horwath didn't criticize the current vax-or-test requirement.
"I wouldn't want to make any assumptions at all in terms of the screening and/or Ms. Karahalios," she said.
Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said he hasn't been contacted about it, and hasn't had a chance to speak with his members yet.
The Liberals have also called for a vaccine mandate for Queen's Park.
"It's hard to know at this stage, with people going back indoors, and some of the regulations and restrictions being loosened, and variants that spread very, very quickly," he said about current Queen's Park safety measures.