Further Details Regarding Ontario’s Move to Modified Step 2 of Roadmap to Reopen
Date: January 5, 2022
As we previously reported, effective January 5, 2022, all public health units in Ontario have been temporarily moved to modified Rules for Areas in Step 2 of the province’s Roadmap to Reopen. These changes will remain in effect until at least January 26, 2022, subject to “trends in public health and health system indicators.” As a result, all public health units in the province are now subject to the conditions established by O. Reg. 263/20, Rules for Areas in Step 2, as amended by O. Reg. 2/22.
We note at the outset that a number of the existing restrictions that were in place in the most recent iteration of Step 3 of the Roadmap remain in place without substantial modification (e.g., masking and distancing requirements). However, the modified Step 2 Rules strengthen some key restrictions and require a wider range of indoor businesses and activities to close.
We review some of the key changes in this FTR Now, but readers should consult the full text of O. Reg. 263/20 to review the complete list of restrictions and to better determine how the changes impact your organization.
Modified Step 2
As was required under the Step 3 Rules, businesses that are permitted to open must continue to operate in compliance with any requirements to establish, implement and ensure compliance with a COVID-19 vaccination policy. Such policies may be required under instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH), under local medical officer of health recommendations or by government directive.
Proof of Vaccination
While many of the businesses that were subject to proof of vaccination rules have been temporarily closed, certain specified businesses that are permitted to open—including indoor areas of facilities used for sports and recreational facilities, subject to certain exceptions, as well as specified outdoor areas that have a usual capacity of 20,000 or more persons—must require patrons to provide proof of identification and of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The provisions allowing some businesses to opt in to the proof-of-vaccination rules are no longer in effect.
Proof of vaccination is not required where a patron enters an indoor area solely to use a washroom, access an outdoor area that can be accessed only through an indoor route, to make a retail purchase, and while placing or picking up an order, among other things.
A significant change from Step 3 is the return to remote work. Businesses or organizations that are open must ensure that any person who performs work for them conducts their work remotely, unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site at the workplace.
General Capacity Limits
At modified Step 2, a business that is open to the public must limit the number of persons in order to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person in the business and to ensure that the total capacity does not exceed 50%.
Capacity limits continue to be calculated in accordance with Ontario Regulation 213/07 (Fire Code), made under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997.
Meeting or Event Spaces
At modified Step 2, indoor meeting or event spaces, including conference and convention centres, may not be rented out, subject to a limited range of exceptions. These exceptions include where the indoor meeting or event space is rented out to provide childcare or social services, or for the purpose of delivering or supporting the delivery of government services.
Outdoor meeting or event spaces may be rented out, subject to a number of conditions.
Restaurants, Bars and Other Establishments
At modified Step 2, indoor dining is no longer permitted.
Outdoor dining is permitted, subject to certain conditions. For example, no more than 10 people may be seated together at any table, unless everyone seated at the table is a member of the same household, a member of up to one other household who lives alone, or a caregiver for any member of either household.
Food or drink establishments with dance facilities, including nightclubs, may open only for the purpose of providing food or drink.
At modified Step 2, all retail businesses must operate at 50% capacity and must post a sign in a conspicuous location visible to the public that states the maximum capacity of the location.
Schools and Private Schools
Publicly funded and private schools must not provide in-person teaching or instruction before January 17, 2022.
School buildings may open before January 17, 2022 for certain specified purposes, such as childcare operations and the provision of in-person instruction to certain students with special needs (where specified conditions are met).
Post-secondary institutions may remain open for in-person teaching and instruction. Certain conditions apply if the indoor instructional space is an Indigenous Institute prescribed for the purposes of section 6 of the Indigenous Institutes Act, 2017.
Other Businesses that Provide Teaching and Instruction
In-person indoor teaching and instruction, other than those that primarily provide health and safety training, must be closed.
Outdoor teaching and instruction is permitted, provided students maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person in the instructional space and must not exceed 50% capacity. Where outdoor teaching or instruction involves singing or the playing of brass or wind instruments, students must be separated from other students by three metres, or by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.
Businesses that primarily provide health and safety training may open if they meet a range of conditions.
Facilities for Indoor Sports and Recreational Fitness Activities
Facilities for indoor sports and recreational fitness activities may open for the sole use of persons who are athletes, coaches or officials training or competing to be a part of Team Canada at the next summer or winter Olympic or Paralympic Games.
A facility for indoor sports and recreational fitness activities may also open in certain other limited situations—for example, for the use of persons with a disability or for the provision of childcare or various support services—in each case subject to a number of conditions. Professional and elite sports may continue within prescribed limits.
For greater certainty, no indoor sports or indoor recreational classes are permitted at any indoor sport or recreational facilities.
Facilities for Outdoor Sports and Recreational Fitness Activities
Facilities for outdoor sports and recreational fitness activities may open, subject to a number of conditions. This includes ensuring that the number of spectators at the facility does not exceed 50% of the usual seating capacity, or for a facility that does not have an area designated for spectator seating, 50% capacity as determined by a prescribed formula.
Spectators must be masked and the person responsible for the facility must actively screen individuals who attend the facility.
Key changes in Step 2 for certain services include the following:
- Public libraries, community centres and multi-purpose facilities may remain open, subject to a 50% capacity limit.
- Businesses providing short-term rental accommodation may remain open, provided that they limit their rentals to individuals in need of housing and provided that any indoor pools, communal steam rooms, saunas, indoor whirlpools, indoor fitness centres or other indoor recreational facilities are closed.
- Hotels, motels, lodges, cabins, cottages, resorts and other shared rental accommodation, including student residences, may remain open provided that any indoor pools, communal steam rooms, saunas, indoor whirlpools, indoor fitness centres or other indoor recreational facilities are closed.
- Indoor photography studios and services may remain open provided individuals are actively screened and the person responsible for the studio or service posts a sign in a conspicuous location visible to the public that states capacity limits under which the establishment is permitted to operate.
- Indoor concert venues, theatres and cinemas are closed to spectators, but may open for rehearsals or recorded or broadcasted performances, subject to a range of conditions.
- Indoor museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions are closed.
- Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments are closed.
- Indoor horse racing tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues are closed. Outdoor venues may remain open subject to various conditions.
Camps for Children
Day camps for children and overnight camps for children are closed at modified Step 2.
On January 3, the government also announced the following additional measures:
Directive #2 of the CMOH will be reinstated, requiring hospitals to pause all non-emergent and non-urgent surgeries and procedures.
Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program
The Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program will be expanded to provide eligible businesses required to close or reduce capacity with rebate payments for a portion of the property tax and energy costs they incur while subject to these measures. The government stated that it will provide a full list of eligible business types when applications for the program open later this month.
For information about how these changes may impact your organization, please contact your regular Hicks Morley lawyer.
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. ©