In our last post, we discussed Ontario’s new colour-coded COVID response framework. In this post, we cover how these new colour-coded restrictions impact condo gyms and pools in Ontario.
Update: Confused about colour zones and applicable restrictions?
We now have a new tool to help you figure out which restrictions apply to your specific region. Click on the COVID tab at the top of our blog and download the COVID-Sheet applicable to your region and municipality.
Don’t miss our Holiday webinar on December 2, at 5 pm: A year in review, preparing your condo for the holiday season and, a tribute to Alex Trebek: our very own Jeopardy! condo gameshow! More info and registration here.
Perhaps one of the most significant change between the old ‘Stage’ framework and the new colour-coded one is a significant expansion around gyms. Under the new colour-coded framework, sports and recreational facilities, including those with weights or exercise equipment, can reopen in all colour zones (presumably except grey, applicable to lock down).
However, your condo will have to implement variating protocols and restrictions depending on the colour zone in which you find yourself. For instance, the number of users in your fitness facility at any given time will decrease as the colour alert increases. It goes from 50 in Green Zones (provided that a 2 metre safe distance can be maintained between users) down to 10 people in the Red zones.
Naturally, as a first step to understand which restrictions apply to you, you must first figure out in which zone you are. Click here if you want to see which colour-zone applies to you.
Below are other important zone-specific restrictions.
In Yellow Zones and up:
- Face masks are required except when exercising;
- Traffic must be reduced to allow for at least 3 metres between users and the maximum number of users in the gym at any given time is 10 per room;
- Use of the gym must be limited to 90 minutes;
- Contact information is required for all users (more on this further below);
- Users must make an appointment/reservation to use the gym. “Walk ins” are not allowed;
- A safety plan must be prepared (more on this further below);
- Any equipment that is provided to users must be cleaned and disinfected between each use;
- Equipment or fixed structures that cannot be cleaned and disinfected between each user cannot be used.
In Orange Zones and up:
- In addition to the above protocols, users must be screened (using a COVID questionnaire);
- No spectators are permitted, with some exceptions for parents or guardians;
- Locker rooms, change rooms and showers must be closed, except to the extent they provide access to equipment storage, washrooms or to provide first aid.
In Red Zones:
In Red Zones, in addition to the above restrictions:
- Traffic is restricted to 10 users at a time;
- Users must be able to maintain a 3 metres distance;
- Personal fitness trainers must provide services outside of a gym – you may want to shut down any activities where an outside trainer is coming in (like yoga or aquatic classes);
- It is interesting to note that fitness centres and gyms in hotels, motels, short-term rentals, marinas, golf courses must be closed. There may be some parallels to be drawn here with condos.
Click here to see an easy-to-use visual chart of fitness rooms restrictions. Please keep in mind that this chart showed proposed restrictions as of the date of the press conference (November 3). It is best to consult your favourite condo lawyer or the actual regulations to see what restrictions apply to you.
Keep in mind that the City of Toronto and the Region of Peel has adopted more restrictive measures. Specifically, indoor fitness classes will be prohibited in Toronto and strongly discouraged and regulated in Peel.
Pools, Steam Rooms and Saunas
The rules applicable to pools appear unchanged: Pools, splash pads, spray pads, whirlpool and wading pools can be opened, provided that they otherwise meet all other health and safety related requirements. Steam rooms and saunas must remain closed.
For more information, you may want to review our blog post on condo pools under Stage 2.
In Orange Zones and up, however, whirlpools, baths, hot tubs, floating pools or sensory deprivation pods must be closed, unless they are used for a therapeutic purpose prescribed by, or administered by, a regulated health professional.
For condo fitness facilities in Yellow Zones and up, the corporation must record the name and contact information of everyone using the facilities. This record must be maintained for a period of at least one month. This record is only to be disclosed to a medical officer of health or an inspector under the Health Protection and Promotion Act or as otherwise required by law.
Considering the above, you may want to consider implementing an online booking system, which will allow you to:
- Have users book their appointment;
- Record the name and contact information of the user;
- COVID screen your users (required in Orange Zones and up).
Some corporations have developed their own booking App, others use third party service providers. There are a fair bit of good options out there.
As a new requirement, the province requires certain “businesses, places, facilities or establishments” to adopt a Safety Plan. In our view, such a plan is required for all condos operating a fitness and recreational facilities in Yellow Zones and up.
The Safety Plan must describe the measures and procedures being implemented to reduce transmission risk of COVID-19. Specifically, the Safety Plan must indicate how the province’s key COVID requirements will be implemented and should specifically address the following:
- Precautions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission or exposure;
- COVID-19 Screening protocol;
- Physical distancing;
- Masks or face coverings;
- Cleaning and disinfection protocols;
- Risk transmission controls;
- Reaction plan in case of COVID-19 potential cases or exposure;
- Changes to operating procedure to manage new risks; and
- Procedure to implement and communicate the plan.
The Safety Plan must be adopted within 7 days of it being required (for instance when your area moves up to a zone requiring it) and must be available upon request by anyone.
A copy of the safety plan must be posted in a conspicuous place where it is most likely to come to the attention of individuals working in or attending the location.
Ask us about your Safety Plan
We have developed a Safety Plan already for some of our clients. Ask us about it.
To open or not to open?
We’ve said it before, and I realize it’s not a popular statement: The ultimate decision to open or not to open belongs to the Corporation. The Corporation must balance the desires/needs of the occupants with its duty to take reasonable steps to ensure the reasonable safety of its occupants. The Corporation is entrusted with the duty to control, manage and administer common elements.
In making this decision, it must keep in mind what is the safest open and which ones brings less risks of liability. At the time of posting, the message we are receiving form all levels of government is to minimize any non-essential in-person contacts and interaction. We are being urged to only socially gather with those we live with and to limits our activities to going to work, school, health care and shopping for household needs.
With this kind of message, and considering that the province and municipalities are closing or imposing very strict controls on fitness centres, it is difficult to justify re-opening those at condos. If you are going to reopen yours, consider every and all precautions that can be taken to minimize the risk of transmission. Make sure, also, that you meet all of the above requirements.
We have developed a list of some 25 factors to be considered if you are going to open your amenities. Ask us about it.