[We are still updating this page to reflect measures to come in effect on February 17, 2022. Please check again later. For now, you may want to consult a summary of the changes here.]
On January 20, 2022, Ontario announced the easing of some public health measures over the next 3 months, starting on January 31. Now that we finally have access to the new regulation, we can decipher what this means for CondoLand.
For the most part, we are moving back to a slightly modified Step 3, or the measures in place from July 16 to December 18, 2021. We are expected to stay in this phase until at least February 21.
Some Public Health Units may have region-specific measures/recommendations. You should also keep an eye out for those. Also keep in mind that the information below presents the minimum requirements. Condos can adopt more prudent measures.
Below is a summary of the most important condo-relevant measures.
Public events and social gatherings
Social gathering must be limited to:
- 10 people indoors
- 25 people outdoors
Organized public events are capped at 25 people if held indoors. Outdoor limits are limited to a number that allows people to keep a 2-m distance (and in most cases, capped at 500).
These limits apply even if the gathering or event is held in a private dwelling or a condo building. There are exceptions for people from the same household (or a household and someone who lives alone).
The regulation does not define “social gatherings” or “organized public events” and does not provide any clue as to what is the difference between these two.
We continue to recommend that you hold all board meetings and all owners meetings virtually.
Face masks covering one’s nose, mouth and chin are still required in all interior common areas, with the usual exceptions related to age, health and disability.
This applies to indoor common elements unless the corporation is able to ensure that a 2-metre distance is maintained. Masks are also required at organized indoor public event.
Corporations are well advised to adopt a mask policy to apply to anyone on interior common elements. You can read more on mask policies here.
Condos should post signs at all entrances informing individuals on how to screen themselves for COVID-19 prior to entering. They must also actively screen anyone who works at the condo.
We have found that posting a QR code at your entrance (allowing users to screen themselves using their smartphone) is very easy and useful. You can read more about it here.
Recreational sports and fitness amenities
Condos can open both their outdoor and indoor sports and recreational fitness amenities provided that they comply with the following:
- Capacity limits must be reduced to 50% of the maximum occupant load normally permitted by the Ontario’s Fire Code or less in order for users to be able to maintain the required 2-m distance;
- Condos must post a sign in a conspicuous location stating the capacity limits;
- Users must be able to maintain a 2-metre distance;
- Participants must be actively screened for COVID;
- Tracing information (name and contact information) is no longer required to be recorded. Having said that, if you already have in place a platform or booking app, why not continue to record this information in case it becomes needed for tracing purposes;
- There no longer appears to be a requirement to book your spot in advance, which indicates that walk-ins may now be permitted. Still, our strong recommendation is that condos continue to require their users to book their spots ahead of time. That is the easiest way to ensure compliance with all public health measures, COVID screening and data collection for tracing purposes;
- Many additional rules apply to ‘spectators’ including the requirement to wear a mask. The way we read this, your users should wear a mask unless they are exercising (or unless they fall within one of the usual mask exceptions).
As will be noted further below, the corporation is responsible to clean and disinfect any equipment it makes available to its users, as frequently as is necessary to maintain a sanitary condition. Corporations are well advised to continue to clean these regularly throughout the day – in addition to encouraging users to clean them before and after each use.
Condos can open their indoor or outdoor pools, splash pads, spray pads, wading pools and slides. There no longer appears to be a prohibition against steam rooms and saunas.
If you open your water facilities, you must abide by the rules listed above under the Recreational Fitness amenities. See above section.
Indoor and outdoor multi-purpose facilities and recreational amenities can open. Their capacity is limited to 50% of normal capacity or less to maintain a 2-m distance between those present. All other rules applicable to fitness rooms (see above) must be abided by.
So, card, billiards or game rooms or other such amenities can open if you meet all of the other requirements (such as gathering limits, mask wearing, 2-metre distancing, capacity limits, etc). Similarly, outdoor amenities such as rooftop terraces, communal BBQs, garden areas can open subject to same measures.
Washrooms, locker rooms and change rooms
Step 3 no longer prohibits the use of common washrooms, locker rooms, change rooms, showers or similar amenities. These can (but do not have to) open. If you are going to reopen these amenities, you must ensure that they are cleaned and disinfected as frequently as is necessary to maintain a sanitary condition.
Still, corporations can opt to keep these closed and encourage instead the users of these amenities to change and shower in their units prior to using your pools/fitness rooms, etc. It is a decision to be taken at the board level, which often turns on the resources available to keep these rooms adequately cleaned and disinfected.
Additional measures and protocols for your amenities
If you are going to open your amenities (such as fitness room, pool, recreational amenities, etc.), in addition to the minimum mandated measures listed above, we recommend that you also consider implementing additional measures, which could include:
- Limit the use of the amenities to residents – no visitors;
- Have the users book their spot in advance (preferably through a booking app) – so no walk ins;
- Collect and keep tracing information (such as the name and coordinates of the users);
- Screen the users for COVID symptoms. This is easily done with a booking app or booking system;
- Remove (or minimize) furniture or equipment available for use;
- Do not provide any items to be shared by users, or reduce these to the strict minimum. Think of requiring users to instead bring their own furniture; equipment; pool noodles and other floatation devices; tools; cooking appliances, pool cues, raquets…);
- Consider posting signs (and possibly floor markers) to direct traffic and remind users of social distancing;
- Adapting the layout and access to these facilities in compliance with regulation and other public health guidance;
- Consider providing alcohol-based disinfectant by the entrances and disinfecting wipes;
- Consider adding air filtering devices;
- Increasing cleaning and disinfecting. While it is a good idea to insist that users clean/disinfect before and after each use, the corporation is ultimately responsible to clear and disinfect as required to maintain sanitary conditions.
Short-term accommodations – guest suites
Short-term accommodations can proceed and are no longer limited to situations where the user is in need for accommodations. However, those making use of these short-term accommodation cannot use any indoor fitness centres or other indoor recreational facilities.
We are of the view that the above also apply to guest suites.
Keep in mind that your municipality or condo corporation may have restrictions on what short-term rentals can take place in your complex.
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 this, 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 must continue to abide by it. By way of example, both the Ottawa and Toronto Public Health Departments continue to recommend that elevator capacity be reduced to allow riders to keep a 2-m distance between them.
Certain business and organizations (including indoor sports and recreational fitness and other recreational amenities) are required to obtain from each “patron” adequate proof of vaccination. While the term “patron” is not define, the existing consensus amongst condo lawyers is that this requirement does not apply to condos (as occupants are not patrons).
However, condos must comply with Public Health advice, recommendations and instructions as they apply to the adoption of vaccination policies where applicable. For the most part, this requires adopting a vaccination policy if you have employees or staff at the corporation.
Having stated the above, condo corporations can adopt vaccination policies requiring their dwellers to provide proof of vaccination to access some of their non-essential amenities. You can read more about vaccination in condos here.
Safety plan are required for :
- Recreational fitness facilities (only if organized sports take place);
- Recreational amenities and multi-purpose amenities.
A Safety Plan should describe how the requirements under the regulation will be implemented, including by screening, physical distancing, masks or face coverings, cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and objects, the wearing of protective equipment and crowd controls.
It should be in writing, available on demand and should be posted in a conspicuous place where the users can see it.
The regulation appears to have removed the strict requirement for remote working (this does not necessarily apply across the board to all industries) but it does require staff and employees to wear a mask.
Naturally, if working remotely is feasible, it should continue to be encouraged.
Condos must continue to clean and disinfect any areas, amenities or equipment that is provided to or used by members of the public as frequently as is necessary to maintain a sanitary condition. This applies, naturally, to washrooms, locker rooms, change rooms, elevators, high touch areas, mircom dial pads, gym equipment, etc.
Condos must continue to comply with:
- the Occupational Health and Safety Act;
- the advice, recommendations and instructions of public health officials, including any advice, recommendations or instructions on physical distancing, cleaning or disinfecting.
Keep in mind that the fact you can open the above facilities, does not mean you necessarily should. Condos can also be more restrictive and opt to keep those closed.
Finally, keep in mind that the above provincial measures are the minimal requirement. Regional Public Health departments can issue additional recommendations and directives. So keep an eye out for these as well.
Let’s not forget that Step 3 is not “back to normal”. It is a step toward it. We’re still not entirely out of the woods.
You can review the Step-3 Regulations adopted under the Reopening Ontario Act.
We have updated our COVID Tool.
Updated Jan 28/2022 at 1pm