As announced last Friday, Peel and Toronto Health Regions were placed under “Lockdown” as of midnight on November 23, 2020. In this blog post, we discuss what this regional lockdown mean for condos in these regions.
- The lockdown applies to Toronto and Peel Health Regions as of November 23;
- Masks are required in indoor common elements;
- Indoor organized public events or social gatherings of any kind are not permitted;
- Outdoor organized public events or social gatherings are limited to 10 people;
- Gym, pools and all other recreational amenities must be closed.
List of essential services
The newly adopted regulation applicable to regions under lockdown mandates the closure of all businesses and places that are not listed in one of its schedules. Businesses and places which are permitted to operate must do so under strict restrictions.
The list of essential services/businesses is significantly more detailed than what we saw last spring. It includes supply chains, some essential retail stores, pickup and delivery restaurants, restricted access to some shopping malls for limited purposes, garden centres, outdoor markets and some essential services.
The following are condo-relevant businesses and services that can remain open (provided that they are COVID-compliant and meet all other requirements):
- Maintenance, repair and property management services that manage and maintain the safety, security, sanitation and operation of residential properties and buildings;
- Construction activities or projects and related services that support construction activities or projects, including demolition;
- Security services for residences, businesses and other properties;
- Domestic services that support the operation of households, including housekeeping, cooking, indoor and outdoor cleaning and maintenance services;
- Laundromats can remain open but condos may still want to consider implementing restrictions around how many occupants can use them, establish schedules and increase cleaning and disinfecting;
- Transportation services including private transportation providers. This will reassure those condos with shuttles services;
- Lawn care services and landscaping services. (We only list this one because we remember all too well the passionate debate surrounding this topic last Spring).
The regulation provides for more essential services and each comes with its own set of rules and restrictions. Readers should consult the regulation (or a professional with a crystal ball who can read said regulation).
The following are gathering restrictions for areas in Lockdown:
- Indoor organized public events or social gatherings are not permitted (except when involving people from the same household, and one potential additional person who lives alone);
- Outdoor organized public events or social gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people.
Naturally, this applies to in-person AGMs but also to in-person board meetings (unless you meet outside). It is time to hold all of these virtually. Any other form of organized social event at the condo should be cancelled. No holiday cheers in the lobby.
The provincial rule applicable to masks remains unchanged. You may want to review our blog on the provincial mask requirements.
In summary, unless someone falls in one of the usual exception, a face mask must be worn in any indoor area. The usual condo-relevant exceptions are based on age or disability or as necessary for the purpose of health and safety.
This mask-wearing requirement applies to interior common areas of condominiums and multi-residential dwellings unless the condo corporation can ensure that occupants can maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from one another. The onus to ensure this physical distance is allowed rests on the condo corporation. In our view, as condo corporation cannot realistically ensure this distance can be maintained, masks should be made mandatory in all indoor common elements. Your corporation may want to adopt a policy if it has not already.
Keep in mind that many municipalities, including Toronto, Mississauga and Brampton, have adopted a mask by-law imposing the requirement to wear masks while on interior common elements (regardless of whether occupants can maintain a 2-metre distance). The Toronto and Mississauga by-laws are effective until at least January 2021. Brampton now appears to fall under the provincial regulation.
Keep in mind that condos can (and many have) adopted more restrictive mask policies. Occupants should comply with any of the above mask-related requirement.
Gyms and Pools
Schedule 3 of the regulation (which applies not only to businesses but also to “places”) is clear:
Indoor and outdoor recreational amenities, including fitness centre and pools must be closed. The same goes for whirlpool, steam rooms, saunas, billiard rooms, and any other such amenities.
Last Friday, we were promised some “limited exceptions” to gym and pool closures. For better or for worse, these exceptions do not apply to condos even for those who have very small, semi-private fitness rooms. The current provincial exceptions deal with professional and elite training as well as children’s day camp and facilities servicing social and mental health support services.
There are also exceptions for outdoor parks, sports fields, golf courses, biking/hiking/horse trails, ice rink, shooting ranges, ski hills, playgrounds and other similar outdoor settings.
Lockers, Change Rooms & Showers
Locker rooms, change rooms, showers and clubhouses must be closed, except to the extent they provide access to a washroom or a portion of the amenity that is used to provide first aid.
Other than for hotels, motels, lodges, resorts and the likes, any short-term rental after November 22, 2020 must be limited to providing accommodations to individual who are in need of housing.
Close your guest suites and owners should not offer their units on a short-term basis.
There are strict restrictions surrounding public library, including requiring that reservation be done by phone; not allowing users in the book stacks or to handle shelved materials and properly disinfecting or quarantining books upon return.
Cleaning and disinfecting
Any washrooms that is made available to the public must be cleaned and disinfected as frequently as is necessary to maintain a sanitary condition. The same is true for any equipment that is provided for the use of members of the public, including electronics and other machines or devices that members of the public are permitted to operate. We’re thinking of elevator and mircom dial pads.
Not great news but let’s hope these are short-term pains for long-term gains.