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Must Condos Close their Gyms Under Ontario’s Modified Stage 2?

Last Friday, Ontario announced that it was moving Toronto, Ottawa and Peel Health Units back into a modified Stage 2 set of restrictions. This was effective as of 12:01 am on October 10, for a period of at least 28  days. We blogged about this.

Despite the new amended regulation not yet being publicly available, many condo corporations proactively closed their fitness rooms before the Thanksgiving long weekend.

Now that O.Reg 572/20 is posted (this is the one modifying the prior Stage 2 regulation), we review here the impact this “modified Stage 2” has on Toronto, Ottawa and Peel condos and specifically whether condos in those areas must close their fitness rooms (yes) and their pools (no under certain conditions).

[Update: York will also be placed under Stage 2 as of October 19, for at least 28 days]

Stage 2 Regulation

Regulation O.Reg. 572/20, adopted under the Reopening Ontario Act in response to COVID-19, regulates all Ontario areas confined to Stage 2 (presently Toronto, Ottawa and Peel).  This regulation is divided in three schedules:

  • Schedule 1: imposing general rules on all business and places;
  • Schedule 2: regulating specific activities (like restaurants, fitness centres, etc);
  • Schedule 3: regulating organized public events and people gathering.

It’s important to keep in mind that the Reopening Ontario Act regulates “any place, whether public or private” and every “premises”, which include “land and buildings”. It is not limited to businesses or workplaces. This piece of legislation grants wide ranging powers to police and courts, including stiff fines for those in breaches of any applicable rule.

Gyms and fitness centres

At the risk of being impopular, our reading of the restrictions under the modified Stage 2 requires the closing of most condo gyms or fitness rooms.  While parts of these facilities may remain opened under strict conditions, the restrictions on them are such that most condos will have to close them.

What does the regulation say?

The regulation reads as follows:

Facilities for indoor sports and recreational fitness activities, including gymnasiums, health clubs, community centres, multi-purpose facilities, arenas, exercise studios, yoga and dance studios and other fitness facilities, may open if they comply with the following conditions:

  • Any areas containing weights or exercise machines must be closed;
  • Fitness, exercise or dance classes must not be provided;
  • Locker rooms, change rooms, showers and clubhouses in a facility must be closed (except to the extent they are used to access equipment, washrooms or to provide first-aid);
  • Any equipment that is provided to users must be cleaned and disinfected between each use;
  • Activities that require the use of equipment or fixed structures that cannot be cleaned and disinfected between each use must not be practised or played within the facility;
  • No more than 10 people are permitted to be in an organized activity at the facility;
  • 2 metres distance must be maintain between users; and,
  • No team sports  is allowed.

[Please note that the above is only a partial summary of the existing restrictions as we are focusing on those that may be most applicable to condos. It is best to consult the actual regulation].

Similar restrictions are imposed on outdoor sports and recreational fitness activities.

Does this apply to condos?

We realize that some readers will question whether these restrictions apply to their small, quasi-private fitness room. Others will point out that many condos had reduced the use of their facilities to a single unit at a time, which leads them to ask how a single unit use can result in contamination of others.

These are valid questions but the regulation (as currently drafted) does not allow for small condo exceptions. While some activities with reduced participation are allowed (up to 10 people), the regulation is clear that areas containing weights and machines sections are to be closed. Had the regulation allowed for the use of weights or exercise machines by single users or anything less than 10, or had they allowed for use with cleaning and disinfecting between users, it would have provided as such.

It did not. Sorry.

Also, as indicated above, the COVID regulations adopted under the Reopening Ontario Act, applies, in our views, to condos as well as businesses.

Recommendation

For the condos in Stage 2 areas, our recommendation continues to be to close their fitness rooms.  We would also suggest that such closure may be advisable for condos who are in Stage 3 in certain circumstances. Keep in mind, condos can be more restrictive not more permissive.

For those wishing to open their fitness room (those not in Stage 2), we continue to recommend great caution.  We have created an extensive list of precautions and protocols that you may want to consider when contemplating whether to allow some of your amenities to remain open. Ask us about it.

Later this week, we will discuss condo pools under this modified Stage 2 restrictions.