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Province Regulates Face Masks and Meeting Limits in Condos

Until Friday, face masks in condos were regulated by municipalities and by condo corporations but not by the province.  Indeed, many municipalities (including Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, York, Burlington and Ottawa) required that face masks be worn while on interior common elements.  We’ve blogged on this already.

Friday, the province of Ontario amended its general COVID response regulation and imposed face masks in all indoor areas of businesses and organizations – with one notable exception for condos.  Regrettably, that may result in additional confusion as some municipalities have in place more restrictive by-laws.

At the time of posting, O.Reg. 364/20 had not yet been amended (despite these  new rules having come into force last Friday).  For now,  you can read the amendments here. Eventually the e-law regulations will be amended.

We summarize the key take-aways at the bottom of this post.

Mandatory face masks

As of last Friday, across Ontario, the province now requires everyone to wear a face mask covering their mouth, nose and chin, while in any indoor area of any business or organization.

Usual Exceptions

Naturally, the regulation lists the usual exceptions we have gotten use to.  The following, amongst others, are not required to wear such a face mask:

  • Children 2 or younger;
  • People who’s medical condition inhibits their ability to wear such masks;
  • Those unable to put on or remove their mask without the assistance of another person;
  • Those who need to temporarily remove their mask while:
    • receiving a service requiring the removal of the mask;
    • engaging in an athletic or fitness activity;
    • consuming food or drinks;
    • or as necessary for the purposes of health and safety.
  • Those being accommodated in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act or with the Human Rights Code.

As has been the case until now, those falling within one of these exception are not required to present evidence of it.

The onus to enforce the above is on the person responsible for the business or organization.

Does this apply to condos?

Yes. But there is an important exception for premises used as a dwelling, such as condominium corporations.

Across Ontario, for condos:

  • The rules requiring masks apply while in any interior common area, UNLESS
  • People are able to maintain at least 2 metres between themselves.

A strict interpretation of this amended  regulation appears to suggest that, as long as you can maintain 2 metres of distance on common areas, you don’t need a face mask – unless your municipality or condo has adopted a stricter rule.

It is unclear (some would say baffling) why the province has added this exception in light of the increasing diagnosed COVID cases and considering that municipalities have adopted far stricter rules. This appears to be yet another example of the province’s timid approach.

Some municipalities and condos have stricter rules

Having said that, and despite the above, condos continue to be regulated by the by-laws in the municipality where they are located and by any rule or policy adopted by the condo itself. Remember: condos (and cities) can be more restrictive but not more permissive than the province.

You must therefore look into the rules applicable to your specific condo before you opt to shed your face mask.

Gathering limits

The amended regulation clarifies that organized public events or social gathering held at residential buildings, including condominium buildings must be limited to:

  • 10 people if the event is held indoors or
  • 25 people if the event is held outdoors.

If the events is held at a place renting out meeting or event space, the gathering limit is:

  • 50 if the meeting or event is indoors, or
  • 100 if the meeting or event is held outdoors,

provided that:

  • people can maintain a physical distance of at least 2 metres from every other person; AND,
  • no more than 6 people are seated at the same table.

We have already blogged on meeting gathering limits and how they apply to AGMs.

While some questioned whether these rules applied to AGMs, the regulation is now clear and expressly refers to gathering in/at condos.

Virtual Meetings

Naturally, as many condos have successfully experienced so far, holding a virtual  meeting will allow you to hold a meeting with much greater numbers and in a much safer environment.

Remember as well that, Friday, the province extended until May 31 the period during which condos could hold virtual meetings without requiring a by-law to do so.  We’ve blogged on this already.

Key Takeaways

  • Gathering limits apply to Condo AGMs, across Ontario:
    • 10 people indoor
    • 25 people outdoor
    • More if you hold it at a venue renting meeting or event space.
  • AGMs must be held by the stated deadline (see our calendar). No extension was granted.
  • You can hold virtual AGMs, even without a bylaw, until May 31, 2021. This period was extended.
  • Everywhere in Ontario, face masks are required in condo interior common elements unless owners can maintain a  distance of 2 metres between themselves. It may make sense to adopt a clearer policy, rather than walk around with your measuring tape;
  • In addition to the provincial regulation, face masks are required in interior common elements in many municipalities, regardless of the ability to maintain 2 metres distance.
  • Condos can (and some have) adopted rules or policies imposing the use of face masks.

Best to reach out to your lawyer (I would add “on a regular basis”) to clarify these ever changing rules and how they apply to you.

Don’t miss this week’s webinar on the Condo Tribunal’s expanded jurisdiction. Wednesday Oct. 7 at 5pm. We will also cover the most recent provincial changes to COVID restrictions.  Check out our line up and register here.


Updated on Oct. 5 at 8pm