Ontario Issues Orders Relating to Stage 3 Reopening: What You Need to Know
Date: July 14, 2020
On July 13, 2020, the Ontario government filed two Orders made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act regarding Stage 3 of the reopening of the province.
The first Order (Ontario Regulation 363/20), Stages of Reopening, is a new regulation that identifies which regions of the province are at Stage 1, 2 or 3 of the reopening plan. Currently, all areas remain in Stage 2. As of 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 17, 2020, many regions in Ontario will move to Stage 3 except for the following regions which will remain in Stage 2:
- City of Hamilton Health Unit
- City of Toronto Health Unit
- Durham Regional Health Unit
- Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
- Halton Regional Health Unit
- Lambton Health Unit
- Niagara Regional Area Health Unit
- Peel Regional Health Unit
- York Regional Health Unit
- Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
At the time of writing, the government has not amended the various Orders relating to the Stage 2 reopening, and those will continue to apply within the areas listed above.
The second Order issued on July 13 (O. Reg. 364/20), Rules for Areas in Stage 3, is a new Order that sets out the reopening rules that will apply beginning Friday in those areas of the province that will move into Stage 3. As with the approach taken in Stage 2, there is no general closure order, and places of business may generally open unless the Order specifically provides that they must remain closed.
As in Stage 2, businesses which remain closed are permitted to allow employees to temporarily access the premises to perform certain work including preparing the business to be reopened and dealing with critical matters which cannot be attended to remotely.
The Order also establishes a wide range of restrictions on businesses that are permitted to open. As before, there are general compliance requirements, such as ensuring compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and ensuring compliance with the advice, recommendations and instructions of public health officials. These apply to any place of business that opens under Stage 3.
It also addresses how many persons may gather in a range of contexts. The general rule limits numbers such that every person is able to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from others. There are exceptions to this general rule – for example, in relation to groups of persons who are complying with public health guidance on households and social circles. Similarly, there are exceptions for some businesses from the general two metre rule if they meet specified conditions.
The Order also establishes general limits on numbers with respect to social gatherings and public events:
- indoor gatherings cannot exceed 50 persons
- outdoor gatherings cannot exceed 100 persons.
These limits are again subject to a range of conditions and exceptions that apply to specified places of business.
As can be expected, the Order permits a wider range of places of business to reopen and often reduces the existing restrictions on businesses that reopened under the Stage 2 order. For example, public libraries in Stage 3 areas will have a wider ability to open their premises provided certain steps are taken to ensure that circulating materials are disinfected or quarantined. Other businesses in this category include personal care services and tour guide services.
Other Stage 3 businesses permitted to reopen include a wider range of sports facilities, cinemas and museums. Restaurants and dining establishments are permitted to allow patrons to dine indoors, subject to meeting the restrictions outlined in the Order.
The Order provides guidance on “in-person teaching” and establishes basic rules:
- students must maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person in the instructional space except for very limited circumstances
- overall numbers cannot exceed the 50-person restriction for indoor instructional spaces and the 100-person restriction for outdoor instructional spaces (and may be lower depending on the application of the two-metre rule).
There are exceptions to these rules for schools and private schools that operate in accordance with a return to school direction issued by the Ministry of Education and approved by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and for schools operated by bands, band councils or the Crown in right of Canada (including schools in the Anishinabek Education System).
The new Order is lengthy and contains detailed restrictions and exceptions to the general Stage 3 reopening of businesses. We strongly encourage readers to consult the text of the Order to confirm the specific circumstance of your place of business.
As businesses continue to reopen and/or expand their operations, readers may wish to consult our checklist entitled Ensuring a Successful Return to Work in a COVID-19 World for guidance.
The article in this client update provides general information and should not be relied on as legal advice or opinion. This publication is copyrighted by Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP and may not be photocopied or reproduced in any form, in whole or in part, without the express permission of Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP. ©