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Has last week’s COVID announcement changed anything for Ontario condos?

Last week, Ontario announced how it plans to safely reopen the province over the next few months.

Many readers have since asked us whether this new plan impacted condos. The short answer is that last week’s announcement has very little immediate impact on condos. However, if the plan is followed, condos may have to review some of their protocol in the longer run.  But for now, for the most part, not much has changed for condos.

So, by popular request, here is a quick recap of what’s the lay of the land for condos in Ontario at the present time.  You can always check the current COVID restrictions affecting condos by clicking on our COVID link (at the top of our blog).

What has changed with last Friday’s announcement

Not much of Friday’s announcement will have an immediate impact on condos – with the one notable exception that if condos opt-into checking proof of vaccination for those using the recreational amenities, they may be able to increase capacity. At the present time, interior recreational amenities must operate at 50% of their capacity or less to ensure the required 2 metre distance between users.  Condos opting to verify vaccination status may increase this capacity limit.

The option to opt-into checking vaccination status is a decision that can be taken on a daily basis (a condo could decide to check vaccination status on certain days and not on others). On the days where vaccination status is being checked, the corporation must post a sign in a conspicuous place indicating so. Those who opt to check vaccination status may have to abide by all of the other provincial regulations applicable to vaccination verification. You may want to check our vaccination page for more details on this.

Vaccination verification is complicated and can be contentious.  Do consult with your favourite condo lawyer before rolling out a vaccination policy.

Those already familiar with the balance of the COVID regulations presently in place can stop reading this post here.  Those wanting a refresher can read on.

Summary of COVID restrictions/regulation still in place

Here is a very brief summary of the more important COVID restrictions which continue to apply to condos despite last week’s announcement.  Our COVID tool provides more details.

Masks

Masks are still required while on indoor common elements – unless the corporation can ensure that all occupants maintain a 2-m distance.  Keep in mind the following:

    • Usual exemptions apply (based on age, medical condition, disabilities….);
    • Those seeking an exemptions do not have to provide any evidence supporting their claim, but those no wearing a mask may be limited to transiting through common elements for the purpose of direct access to their unit by the most direct route as was ordered in at least one court case on mask requirements;
    • Best to adopt a mask policy to clarify what is expected from your owners/occupants. You can read more on the mask policy we recommend be adopted;
    • Posters/notices are required by your entrances. Here is a sample.

Public gatherings

Organized public events and social gatherings at the condo are limited to:

    • Indoor 25 people
    • Outdoor 100 people

All other restrictions/public health directives apply. Meeting capacity is increased for meeting/event spaces such as convention centres.

COVID screening

COVID screening at entrance doors:

    • Required for anyone working at the condo;
    • All others (not working at the condo) should be invited to self-screen, but such screening is not mandated by the province. As usual, a condo can adopt a policy requiring such screening regardless of the fact that it is not mandated by the province.

Gyms / fitness amenities

  • Indoor sports/fitness amenities can open:
    • The maximum capacity restrictions have been lifted

[Frankly, we believe this to be an oversight. Capacity restrictions were lifted when proof of vaccination became required for commercial gyms. As proof of vaccination is not mandated by the province for condo gyms, condo gyms are now falling between cracks: benefiting from reduced precautions but not benefiting from the increased protection of vaccination check.]

    • Participants must COVID screen themselves;
    • Tracing info must be recorded and kept for at least 1 month;
    • A safety plan is only required if there is going to be organized sports;
    • Additional protocols and precautions may be adopted to ensure health and safety of occupants;
    • Corporations can impose stricter measures and, in fact, many condo corporations have chosen not to reopen their amenities at all.  Some have chosen to reopen them only to those who show proof of vaccination.

Other indoor recreational amenities

  • Indoor capacity is limited to 50% of normal capacity or less to maintain 2m distance. A sign indicating the maximum capacity must be posted in a conspicuous place;
  • All other conditions applicable to fitness rooms / gyms apply (see above).

Elevators

The Reopening Ontario Act does not regulate the number of users permitted to ride in an elevator – other than requiring those on interior common elements to wear a mask if they come within less than 2 metres of one another.  Having said that, this piece of legislation is clear that all public health guidance/recommendations must be followed.

The public health department of many municipalities continue to recommend that elevator capacity be reduced to a number allowing riders to keep a 2-m distance. If such a recommendation exists in your public health region, the condo corporation must continue to apply it.

By way of examples, Toronto Public Health’s fact sheet for multi-residential dwellings recommends that the number of people per elevator be reduced to allow them to keep a 2m distance. Naturally, this does not apply to members of the same household.  Here is a template sign you can use to remind riders of this.

Ottawa also appears to be recommending that a 2-m distance be maintained in elevators.

Vaccination status check

Vaccination is a more complex issue. We have a blog page on this to help but here is a summary:

    • The requirement to check vaccination status likely does not apply to condo dwellers. Therefore, condo corporations are not mandated to check vaccination status before entering the gym, for instance;
    • Having said that, condos can adopt vaccination policies requiring proof of vaccination to access amenities;
    • The corporation must have a vaccination policy for its employees/contractors. We can help you develop this;
    • In all cases, any vaccination policy must provide for medical accommodation.  The Ministry of health had made it clear that these medical exemptions will be rare and must be properly documented;
    • Your vaccination policy must consider privacy issues amongst other considerations.

What should condos expect in the future?

Yea.  Funny.  Time will tell. But we’ll keep an eye out on regulations as they get published and will keep updating you.

 

Updated on Oct. 30, 2021


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