Human Resources Legislative Update
Ontario Moves to Modified Step 2 due to Surge in COVID-19 Cases
Date: January 3, 2022
On January 3, 2022, the Ontario government announced that in light of the surge in COVID-19 cases, the province will be moving to modified Rules for Areas in Stage 2 of its Roadmap to Reopen plan. These changes will come into effect on January 5, 2022 at 12:01 a.m. and will remain in effect until at least January 26, 2022.
Among others, the following measures will come into effect on January 5:
- businesses and organizations must ensure employees work remotely unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site
- social gatherings are limited to five people indoors and 10 people outdoors
- capacity at organized public events is limited to five people indoors
- indoor meeting and event spaces are closed, with limited exceptions; outdoor spaces are permitted to remain open with restrictions
- retail settings, including shopping malls, are permitted to open at 50% capacity
- indoor dining is closed at restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments; outdoor dining with restrictions, takeout, drive through and delivery is permitted.
Publicly funded and private schools must move to remote learning until at least January 17 (as previously announced, the new school term commences on January 5). School buildings will be allowed to open for certain specified purposes, such as childcare operations, among others. Free emergency childcare will be provided for school-aged children of healthcare and other eligible frontline workers.
The following measures were also announcement by the government:
- effective January 5, Directive #2 of the Chief Medical Officer of Health will be reinstated, requiring hospitals to pause all non-emergent and non-urgent surgeries and procedures
- the new Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program will be expanded, providing eligible businesses that are required to close or reduce capacity with rebate payments for a portion of the property tax and energy costs incurred while subject to these measures; a full list of eligible business types will be made available later in January.
The Rules for Areas in Stage 2 are found in O. Reg. 263/20, made under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020. At the time of writing, amendments to O. Reg. 263/20 giving effect to any modifications have not yet been published.
We will be reviewing the changes announced by the province today, as well as any regulatory amendments, and will provide further details in the coming days.
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. ©