On April 27, 2020, the Ontario government released its plan to gradually reopen the province’s economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, though no dates have been provided due to recent public health indicators showing that Ontario is beginning to turn a corner in the COVID-19 outbreak, while economic data, feedback from businesses and insights from communities are outlining how the province needs to plan for economic recovery.
The plan is laid out in a series of stages, which government officials said are necessary to ensure a return to normal is made safely.
Once the province reaches the “Restart” phase, the plan includes three stages for reopening.
The government has laid out a series of requirements for determining when it is time to ease public health measures “Restart” phase. They include:
- A consistent two-to-four week decrease in the number of new daily cases.
- A decrease in the rate of cases that cannot be traced to a source.
- A decrease in the number of new COVID-19 cases in hospitals.
- Increased and new ways of testing, quick contact tracing, and maintaining health system capacity are also requirements.
Throughout each stage of the reopening plan, continued protections for vulnerable populations must be in place, along with the continued practice of physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene, and significant mitigation plans to limit health risks.
The government has stated that even after reopening has been completed, the final stage of the plan includes the “continued practice of physical distancing” and “significant mitigation plans” to limit health risks. Concerts and sporting events will be restricted for the “foreseeable future.”
The reopening stages released in A Framework for Reopening our Province consist of the following:
Stage 1: For businesses that were ordered to close or restrict operations, opening select workplaces that can immediately modify operations to meet public health guidance. Opening some outdoor spaces like parks and allowing for a greater number of individuals to attend some events. Hospitals would also begin to offer some non-urgent and scheduled surgeries, and other health care services. Specifically,
- Businesses that can immediately meet or modify operations to meet public health guidance and occupational health and safety, for instance through curbside pick-up or delivery.
- Open some outdoor spaces like parks.
- Allow for a greater number of individuals to attend some events, like funerals.
- Hospitals begin to offer some non-urgent scheduled surgeries and other services.
- Continued protections for vulnerable populations and practice of physical distancing.
Stage 2: Opening more workplaces, based on risk assessments, which may include some service industries and additional office and retail workplaces. Some larger public gatherings would be allowed, and more outdoor spaces would open. Specifically,
- Open more workplaces “based on risk assessments.” This could include service industries and additional offices, as well as retail.
- Open more outdoor spaces and allow some larger public gatherings.
- Continued protections for vulnerable populations and continued practice of physical distancing.
Stage 3: Opening of all workplaces responsibly and further relaxing of restrictions on public gatherings. Specifically,
- Open all workplaces “responsibly.”
- Further relaxing restrictions on public gatherings.
- Continued restrictions on large public gatherings, including concerts and sporting events until the “foreseeable future.”
- Continued protections for vulnerable populations and continued practice of physical distancing.
All schools will remain closed until May 31, 2020.
Directives for workplaces during reopening stages
All employers and workers will be required to follow directives and guidelines on COVID-19, including measures that may restrict certain activities. Safe workplaces must have a plan that promotes and adheres to strict hygiene and sanitation standards, and physical distancing to the extent possible. These are key factors to resume activities safely. The use of measures to limit risks include adjusting work practices and physical environments. This applies to workplaces that are allowed to reopen, as well as businesses deemed essential but that voluntarily chose to shut down, recognizing they may decide to resume operations before entering the first stage.
The government, in partnership with Ontario’s Health and Safety Associations and based on input from public health officials, will provide guidelines to employers on how to open safely and protect their employees and customers. Documents are made available across many sectors, as well as training to provide guidance to workplaces entering the restart phase. This may include webinars and other distance learning tools. These resources will build on the guidelines provided to essential workplaces, which have enabled those businesses to adapt and remain open.
On April 30, 2020, the Ontario government announced the publication of workplace safety guidance in preparation for the reopening of the provincial economy. The guidance documents, available here, are technical and sector-specific, providing guidance to the following industries: transportation, construction, utilities, health care, offices settings, police, fire, mining, forestry, retail, food retail, agriculture, auto, tourism, hospitality, film and television, funeral, maintenance, and manufacturing, as well as general guidance for sales and customer service representatives, executives and management, and curbside pick-up and delivery services.
On May 1, 2020, the government announced that, effective May 4, 2020, at 12:01 a.m., the following businesses will be permitted to reopen operations while following health and safety guidelines:
- “Garden centres and nurseries with curbside pick-up and delivery only;
- Lawn care and landscaping;
- Additional essential construction projects that include:
- shipping and logistics;
- broadband, telecommunications, and digital infrastructure;
- any other project that supports the improved delivery of goods and services;
- municipal projects;
- colleges and universities;
- site preparation, excavation, and servicing for institutional, commercial, industrial and residential development;
- child care centres; and
- Automatic and self-serve car washes;
- Auto dealerships, open by appointment only;
- Golf courses may prepare their courses for the upcoming season, but not open to the public; and
- Marinas may also begin preparations for the recreational boating season by servicing boats and other watercraft and placing boats in the water, but not open to the public. Boats and watercraft must be secured to a dock in the marina until public access is allowed.”
The Ontario government published the regulation required for the reopening of the above businesses on May 4, 2020.
The plan is being further developed on an ongoing basis. Therefore more information is to be provided gradually.
On May 6, 2020, the Ontario government announced an easing of restrictions on retail stores and essential construction. According to a government press release:
- “On Monday, May 11 at 12:01 a.m., retail stores with a street entrance can begin offering curbside pickup and delivery, in accordance with the Ministry of Health’s Guidance Document for Essential Workplaces and occupational health and safety requirements.”
- “As early as Friday, May 8 at 12:01 a.m., garden centres and nurseries will be able to open for in-store payment and purchases, operating under the same guidelines as grocery stores and pharmacies.”
- “Hardware stores and safety supply stores will be permitted to open for in-store payment and purchases as soon as 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 9.”
- “Below-grade multi-unit residential construction projects like apartments and condominiums [will be permitted to] begin and existing above-grade projects to continue.”
On May 8, 2020, the government published the regulation required for the previously announced reopening of certain retail stores and essential construction on May 8, 9 and 11, 2020. Among other things, the regulation permits retailers to have employees inside their establishments as of 12:01 a.m. on May 8, 2020, on a temporary basis, in order to prepare for the limited reopening on Monday, May 11, 2020. As announced by the government, the regulation also permits professional sport training facilities to reopen.
On May 9, 2020, the Ontario government announced a plan to ensure the availability of licensed child care while the province enacts its reopening plans.
On May 14, 2020, the Ontario government announced the following businesses will be permitted to open, with restrictions, effective Tuesday May 19, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.:
- “Retail services that are not in shopping malls and have separate street-front entrances with measures in place that can enable physical distancing, such as limiting the number of customers in the store at any one time and booking appointments beforehand or on the spot.
- Seasonal businesses and recreational activities for individual or single competitors, including training and sport competitions conducted by a recognized national or provincial sport organization. This includes indoor and outdoor non-team sport competitions that can be played while maintaining physical distancing and without spectators, such as tennis, track and field and horse racing.
- Animal services, specifically pet care services, such as grooming and training, and regular veterinary appointments.
- Indoor and outdoor household services that can follow public health guidelines, such as housekeepers, cooks, cleaning and maintenance.
- Lifting essential workplace limits on construction.
- Allowing certain health and medical services to resume, such as in-person counselling; in-person services, in addition to virtual services, delivered by health professionals; and scheduled surgeries, all based on the ability to meet pre-specified conditions as outlined in A Measured Approach to Planning for Surgeries and Procedures During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
In addition, effective Saturday, May 16, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., the following seasonal services and activities will be permitted to reopen according to a government press release:
- “Golf courses will be able to open, with clubhouses open only for washrooms and restaurants open only for take-out.
- Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches may open for recreational use.
- Private parks and campgrounds may open to enable preparation for the season and to allow access for trailers and recreational vehicles whose owners have a full season contract.
- Businesses that board animals, such as stables, may allow boarders to visit, care for or ride their animal.”
The government also:
- launched a website with a list of Ontario companies and business associations that are ready to supply personal protective equipment to businesses; and
- announced $2.25-million in funding for farmers. According to a government press release, “the funding will be used for initiatives like purchasing personal protective equipment, enhanced cleaning and disinfection, and redesigning workstations.”
On May 19, 2020, the Ontario government published the regulation required for the reopening (with restrictions) of retailers with street-front entrances, seasonal businesses and certain recreational activities, animal services, indoor and outdoor household services, construction, and certain health and medical services. The regulation can be found here.
The government also announced that public schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year. Private schools, licensed child care centres and EarlyON programs will also remain closed through stage 1 of the government’s Framework for Reopening the Province.
On May 20, 2020, the Ontario government recommended that individuals wear face coverings when physical distancing is not possible, including in workplaces and on public transit. The Ministry of Health published guidance and a poster on the wearing of face coverings.
On May 25, 2020, Health officials in Ontario that a steady rise in COVID-19 cases could be attributable to an increased number of gatherings on the Mother’s Day weekend, where people were “seeing families when they should not have been more than five people together.” The province has previously suggested that it was looking to increase the size of allowable gatherings beyond five people but due to the rise in cases, that directive has been “pushed back.”
“We had been discussing pools of people that could be together, the social cohorting and so on, but given what’s happened with the numbers of people coming down with COVID in the last few days, along with what has happened over this past weekend with large groups of people coming together in Trinity Bellwoods and other parks, Dr. Williams is reluctant to move forward with that right away,” Elliott said.
Williams said the province is now monitoring to see if there is a bump in cases that can be attributed to the Victoria Day long weekend. He said the effects of increased gathering, as measured in increased COID-19 cases, is usually noticeable about seven to 10 days later.
On May 26, 2020, the Ontario government issued a new directive under the Health Protection and Promotion Act to allow regulated health professionals (e.g., dentists, optometrists, massage therapists, chiropractors, physiotherapists, psychologists, dieticians and denturists) to gradually reopen. The reopening must be carried out in coordination with and adherence to guidance from regulatory colleges and other specified requirements.
On May 27, 2020, the Ontario government says it is extending all current emergency orders under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, that were set to expire May 29 until June 9 amid the coronavirus pandemic. Current emergency orders include the closure of playgrounds, play structures and equipment, public swimming pools and outdoor water facilities. It also includes bars and restaurants, which are closed except for takeout and delivery. The government said that under the emergency order, there continue to be restrictions on social gatherings of more than five people. Staff redeployment rules remain in place for long-term care homes and other congregate settings such as retirement homes and women’s shelters. To build on the progress we have made to contain COVID-19, people should continue to follow these simple public health guidelines, practise physical distancing, wear a mask when it is a challenge to physical distance, and wash their hands regularly. If you think you have COVID-19 or may have been exposed to the virus, go to an assessment centre and get tested.
The emergency orders have been extended until June 9, 2020.
On May 29, 2020, Premier Ford announced the government is considering a regional approach to reopening the province based on the regional differences in case numbers.
The government also announced that it is expanding testing, including targeted testing and outbreak testing at certain workplaces, including hospitals, long-term care homes, group homes, shelters, emergency child care centres, correctional facilities and other shared living spaces.
On May 30, 2020, the Ontario government amended an emergency order to allow drive-in movie theatres that were in existence before May 29, 2020 to reopen with restrictions in order to help support communities and local businesses recover from the devastating economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. The government is also allowing batting cages to open so that people can start to enjoy outdoor seasonal activities at safe physical distances. These changes will be effective on May 31, 2020.
On June 2, 2020, the Ontario Legislative Assembly approved the extension of the provincial declaration of emergency until June 30, 2020. The government also published a list of employees eligible for its temporary pandemic pay program, available here.
On June 6, 2020, the Ontario government announced the extension and amendment of a number of emergency regulations to support the re-opening plan, including those governing:
- the closure of non-essential businesses and the prohibition on public events and certain gatherings, which have been extended to June 19, 2020. A copy of the order extending the regulations is available here; and
- the suspension of limitation periods and procedural time periods in legal proceedings, which have been extended until September 11, 2020. The relevant orders extending and amending the regulation are available here and here.
On June 8, 2020, the Ontario government announced that certain regions in the province will begin Stage 2 of the provincial reopening plan, commencing June 12, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. E.D.T. In applicable regions, a government press release states that “businesses and services permitted to reopen with proper health and safety measures in place in regions entering Stage 2 include:
- Outdoor dine-in services at restaurants, bars and other establishments, including patios, curbside, parking lots and adjacent properties;
- Select personal and personal care services with the proper health and safety measures in place, including tattoo parlours, barber shops, hair salons and beauty salons;
- Shopping malls under existing restrictions, including food services reopening for take-out and outdoor dining only;
- Tour and guide services, such as bike and walking, bus and boat tours, as well as tasting and tours for wineries, breweries and distilleries;
- Water recreational facilities such as outdoor splash pads and wading pools, and all swimming pools;
- Beach access and additional camping at Ontario Parks;
- Camping at private campgrounds;
- Outdoor-only recreational facilities and training for outdoor team sports, with limits to enable physical distancing;
- Drive-in and drive-through venues for theatres, concerts, animal attractions and cultural appreciation, such as art installations;
- Film and television production activities, with limits to enable physical distancing; and
- Weddings and funerals, with limits on social gatherings to 10 people.”
More information about Stage 2 of the reopening, including the list of regions by public health unit which will enter this stage, can be found here. The orders that will give effect to the Stage 2 reopening were not available by 5:00 p.m. E.D.T.
In addition, the government announced that the provincial limit on social gatherings will increase from 5 to 10 people, and all places of worship in the province will be permitted to open with physical distancing and attendance of no more than 30 percent of capacity, effective June 12, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. E.D.T.
On June 9, 2020, the Ontario government announced its plan to reopen child care centres across the province to support the next stage of the province’s reopening framework. Developed in consultation with Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and medical leaders at The Hospital for Sick Children, the plan will require child care operators to follow strict health protocols to ensure the safety of child care staff and children.
Centres will be required to adopt specific rules, including:
- Cohorting ― putting children and staff in groups of 10 or less day over day;
- COVID-19 response plan ― all child care settings will be required to have a plan in place if a child, parent or staff member/provider is exposed to COVID-19;
- Screening ― all staff and children must be screened prior to entry to the child care setting. Anyone feeling unwell must stay home;
- Daily attendance records ― child care settings must keep daily records of all attendees in order to support contact tracing;
- Cleaning ― child care settings must be thoroughly cleaned before opening and frequently thereafter;
- No visitors ― only essential visitors are permitted entry into the child care setting;
- Implementing drop-off and pick-up protocols in a way that facilitates physical distancing.
Effectively immediately, staff can re-enter child care facilities and begin preparation for reopening. When these operators have met all the strict and stringent guidelines for reopening, they will be permitted to reopen.
Emergency child care will wind down effective June 26, 2020 as all licensed child care centres are permitted to open province-wide. Families served through emergency child care will be supported by service system managers to return to their previous arrangement or finding new space during the transition back to regular childcare.
If families are not offered access to their previous child care arrangement, operators will continue to be prevented from charging fees for these spaces.
As required by legislation, the Ministry will be seeking input from families and the sector on the Child Care and Early Years Act (CCEYA) over the summer, which will inform child care planning for the province.
Also, based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and with strict health and safety protocols in place, the Ontario government is now enabling summer day camp programs across the province to reopen this summer. Strict health and safety guidelines were developed by the Ministry of Health in partnership with public health, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, and municipalities, and distributed to local public health teams earlier this month. At this time, overnight camps are not permitted to operate in the summer of 2020.
On June 10, 2020, the Ontario government announced plans to reopen post-secondary schools for in-person learning. According to a government press release:
- commencing in July 2020, “limited in-person education and training may restart for students who were not able to graduate due to COVID-19 closures”;
- in September 2020, “all students will have the opportunity to attend postsecondary education through virtual learning, in-class instruction, or hybrid formats”; and
- “publicly assisted colleges and universities, Indigenous Institutes, private career colleges and other postsecondary education institutions may participate in this voluntary reopening. Institutions that choose to participate will be responsible for establishing their own plans for this limited reopening in accordance with public health advice and any ministry guidance.”
On June 10, 2020, the Ontario government indicated that guidance on the summer reopening and health and safety measures for the post-secondary education sector will be released in the coming days.
The Medical Officer of Health for the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit issued an Order effective June 12, 2020 requiring owners and operators of a commercial establishment (e.g., a commercial premise used for the purposes of offering goods or services to members of the public, including stores and malls) in that region to:
- prohibit any customer, patron, employee or visitor from entering or remaining in their commercial establishment unless they are wearing a face covering, unless:
- they are under two (2) years old;
- the covering inhibits a person’s breathing; or
- a person has a medical issue and cannot safely wear a face covering; and
- ensure they have alcohol-based hand rub at all entrances and exits for those entering or exiting.
Further information regarding the Order is available here.
On June 11, 2020, the Ontario government announced new COVID-19 guidance for public transit agencies, including the recommendation that passengers wear face coverings or non-medical masks while taking transit. The guidance is available here.
The government also announced the gradual resumption of visits by family and friends of residents in long-term care homes, retirement homes and other residential care settings, beginning June 18, 2020. According to a government press release:
• “Long-term care homes will allow outdoor visits of one person per resident each week at a minimum. Retirement homes will resume indoor and outdoor visits in designated areas or resident suites when physical distancing can be maintained. Other residential care settings will be able to allow outdoor visits of two people at time.”
• “[Visits] will be subject to strict health and safety protocols, including requiring visitors to pass active screening every time they visit, confirming with staff that they have tested negative for COVID-19 within the previous two weeks, and complying with the infection prevention and control protocols. This includes bringing and wearing a face covering during visits.”
• The following conditions must be met before visitors can enter:
- homes must not have a COVID-19 outbreak;
- homes must have an established process for communicating visitor protocol and the associated safety procedures; and
- homes must maintain the highest infection prevention and control standards.
Finally, the government announced $5.7-million in funding to help small businesses reach more customers, create and enhance their online presence, and generate jobs through an online platform called the Digital Main Street.
On June 12, 2020, the Ontario government announced that individuals may now create social circles of up to 10 members, including those outside their immediate household. According to a government press release, “… the rules for social circles are different from the proposed expansion of social gatherings from five to 10 people. Social gatherings can be any 10 people from outside your household, but where physical distancing of at least two metres should be maintained.”
On June 15, 2020, the government announced that certain additional regions in the province will begin Stage 2 of the province’s reopening plan, commencing June 19, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. E.D.T. With those additions, only the following public health regions will remain in Stage 1:
- Peel Public Health;
- Toronto Public Health; and
- Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.
The government published a new Order requiring businesses and organizations that are reopening to:
- operate in accordance with all applicable laws, including the Occupational Health and Safety Act and related regulations;
- operate in compliance with the advice, recommendations and instructions of public health officials, including with respect to physical distancing, cleaning or disinfecting;
- where open to the public, ensure that members of the public maintain a physical distance of at least 2-metres from other persons (except persons who have arrived at the business/facility together); and
- ensure that any washrooms available to the public are cleaned and disinfected as frequently as is necessary to maintain a sanitary environment.
The Order also includes sector specific compliance requirements and conditions for reopening.
On June 16, 2020, the Ontario government announced a new workplace guide to assist employers and businesses develop safety plans to protect workers, customers and clients. According to a government press release, the guide will help employers:
- “Identify the risks for transmitting the virus through person-to-person contact and actions such as touching faces with hands that have been contaminated by contact with surfaces and objects;
- Determine what controls are needed to help mitigate risk, such as engineering controls like the installation of plexiglass to separate workers from customers, administrative controls limiting the number of workers in a space at one time, and personal protective equipment including face and eye protection;
- Create a workplace safety plan based on the identified risks and appropriate controls specific to the employer’s workplace;
- Implement the plan in the workplace, and review and update it as the situation evolves; and
- Communicate the actions being taken to workers and other people entering the workplace.”
On June 17, 2020, the Ontario government passed the Protecting Small Business Act, temporarily halting or reversing evictions of commercial tenants and protecting them from being locked out or having their assets seized during COVID-19. The legislation applies to businesses that are eligible for federal/provincial rent assistance for evictions from May 1, 2020 until August 31, 2020.
On June 18, 2020, the Ontario government published the required regulations (here and here) expanding the regions moving to Stage 2 of the provincial reopening plan effective June 19, 2020. The requirements for all regions in Stage 2 are available in the regulation published here.
In addition, the Ontario government announced the launch on July 2 of a contact tracing app called COVID Alert in partnership with the federal government. Users will be able to voluntarily download the app and be notified anonymously if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days. In Ontario, the app will also provide users with quick access to Ontario’s public health advice and resources, and recommend any necessary actions, such as monitoring for symptoms, self-isolation or appropriate next steps on getting tested.
On June 19, 2020, the Ontario government announced the release of a safety plan for the 2020-21 school year. According to the government press release, school boards will be asked to plan for the following three scenarios:
1. “Normal school day routine with enhanced public health protocols – Students going to school every day, in classes that reflect standard class size regulations.
2. Modified school day routine – Based on public health advice, an adapted delivery model has been designed to allow for physical distancing and cohorts of students. Under this model, school boards are asked to maintain a limit of 15 students in a typical classroom at one time and adopt timetabling that would allow for students to remain in contact only with their classmates and a single teacher for as much of the school day as possible. This model would require alternate day or alternate week delivery to a segment of the class at one time.
3. At home learning – Should the school closure be extended, or some parents choose not to send their child back to school, school boards need to be prepared to offer remote education. Remote education should be delivered online to the greatest extent possible, including the establishment of minimum expectations for students to have direct contact with their teacher at the same time on a regular basis, also known as synchronous learning. Synchronous learning can be used as part of whole class instruction, in smaller groups of students, and/or in a one-on-one context.”
The government also:
- announced $4 million in funding for school cleaning, cleaning protocols and the hiring of additional custodial staff in September 2020; and
- announced $736 million of additional funding in public education for the 2020-21 school year.
On June 22, 2020, the Ontario government announced that the Toronto and Peel public health regions will enter Stage 2 of the provincial reopening plan effective June 24, 2020, at 12:01 a.m. These regions will join the 31 other public health regions in Ontario that entered Stage 2 on June 12 and 19, 2020. More information about Stage 2 of the reopening, including a list of business that can re-open, is available here.
The public health region of Windsor-Essex will remain in Stage 1, and is the last remaining region in that stage.
On June 24, 2020, the Ontario government announced that Ontario’s Declaration of Emergency is being extended until July 15. This provides the government with additional time and the necessary tools to maintain the fight against COVID-19 as more Ontario businesses, services and amenities reopen. A full list of emergency orders can be found on the e-Laws website under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and at Ontario.ca/alert.
As of June 24, 33 public health unit regions have entered Stage 2 of the Framework for Reopening our Province, allowing more businesses and services to open and getting more people back to work. The Windsor-Essex County public health unit region remains in Stage 1 and the situation in the region will continue to be assessed on an ongoing basis.
However late that evening, the Ontario government decided to allow Windsor-Essex to move into Stage 2 of reopening on Thursday, June 25, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., with the exception of the Municipality of Leamington and the Town of Kingsville. These areas are being held back due to the higher transmission rates in the local agriculture and agri-food sector.
Outbreaks in agriculture and agri-food sectors pose unique challenges that require a targeted and collaborative response. Working with federal and local authorities, Ontario is implementing a three-point plan to support Leamington and Kingsville to move into Stage 2 as soon as it is safe to do so. Work is already underway to expand and provide ongoing on-site testing on work sites.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health is also issuing public health guidance allowing positive asymptomatic workers to continue working as long as they follow the public health measures in their workplace to minimize the risk of transmission to others. This guidance will provide clarity and assurance that local public health officials will assist with interpreting test results and developing a plan that, first and foremost, ensures essential workers in the sector are able to return to work safely.
On June 30, 2020, the Ontario government announced that courts across the province will resume in-person proceedings effective July 6, 2020, in accordance with health and safety protocols.
The City of Toronto approved a bylaw requiring masks or face coverings in all enclosed public places as of July 7, 2020. Subject to certain individual exceptions, businesses will be required to adopt a policy ensuring masks or face coverings are worn in publicly accessible indoor spaces under their control. For more information, see the full Council decision.
On July 3, 2020, the Ontario government announced new and amended emergency orders to help restaurant and bar owners reopen. The orders allow municipalities to quickly pass temporary bylaws to create and extend patios and allow covered outdoor dining areas. According to a government press release, the orders:
- will reduce the usual process times for passing temporary use bylaws, which could take several weeks or more, to speed up the process; and
- provide clarification “that outdoor dining areas can open if they have a roof, canopy, tent, awning or other covering”, subject to certain restrictions on the type of the covering.
On July 5, 2020, the Ontario government announced the launch of virtual health and safety training courses for job seekers and workers who need to obtain essential qualifications. According to a government press release, available here:
- up to 100,000 job seekers can take free courses through Employment Ontario, which cover a wide array of health and safety topics, including “infection control, conducting health and safety incident investigations, ladder safety, slips, trips and falls prevention, and preventing workplace violence and harassment;” and
- worker and employer members of joint health and safety committees can use video conferencing to take training with qualified instructors from certain approved training providers. The training includes topics such as “how to establish a Health and Safety Committee, resolving health and safety issues, workplace inspections, and accident investigations.”
Finally, the government has extended the deadline to complete refresher training for certified health and safety committee members whose certifications would have expired between February 28, 2020 and August 31, 2020. Committee members now have until November 30, 2020 to renew their training.
On July 6, 2020, Ottawa Public Health followed suit by mandating the use of masks in many indoor public spaces. Effective as of 12:01 a.m. on July 7, 2020, Dr. Vera Etches, Medical Officer of Health for Ottawa Public Health, has instructed every operator of an enclosed public space within the City of Ottawa to:
- Adopt a policy to ensure that no member of the public is permitted to enter or remain in the public areas of the enclosed public space unless he or she is wearing a mask in a manner that covers their nose, mouth and chin.
- Exempt from wearing a mask individuals who are: Children under two years of age, or children under five years of age, either chronologically or developmentally, who refuse to wear a mask and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver; Individuals with medical conditions rendering them unable to safely wear a mask, including breathing difficulties or cognitive difficulties; Individuals who are unable to apply or remove a mask without assistance, including those who are accommodated under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) or who have protections under the Ontario Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c.H.19, as amended; A person who is employed by or is an agent of the operator of an enclosed public space and: is within or behind a physical barrier (e.g., plexiglass); or is in an area of the premises that is not designated for public access;
- Ensure the availability of alcohol-based hand rub at all entrances and exits for the use of all persons entering or exiting the establishment.
Refer to the full Instruction Letter to Businesses and Operators for more detailed information.
On July 7, 2020, the Ontario government announced proposed legislation that, if passed, would ensure certain emergency measures continue once the provincial declaration of emergency has ended. According to a government press release, Bill 195 Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, available here, would:
• continue emergency orders in effect under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (“EMCPA”) under the new legislation for an initial 30 days;
• allow the Lieutenant Governor in Council to further extend these orders for up to 30 days at a time, as required;
• allow the Lieutenant Governor in Council to amend certain emergency orders continued under the EMCPA if the amendment relates to:
- labour redeployment or workplace and management rules;
- closure of places and spaces or regulation of how businesses and establishments can be open to provide goods or services in a safe manner;
- compliance with public health advice; or
- rules related to gatherings and organized public events;
• not permit new emergency orders to be introduced through the legislation; and
• allow emergency orders to be rescinded when safe to do so.
The ability to extend and amend orders under the new proposed legislation would be limited to 1 year, unless extended by the legislature. The current declaration of emergency is in place until July 15, 2020, subject to further extension by the government.
On July 8, 2020, the government announced proposed legislation, Bill 197, the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020. According to a government press release, the proposed legislation “lays the foundation to restart jobs and development, strengthen communities, and create opportunity for people in every region of the province” and, among other things, will “restart jobs and development to get Ontario’s economic engine roaring again by getting key infrastructure projects built faster, attracting more jobs and investment, and cutting red tape to help businesses adapt to the new environment.” The government’s summary of the proposed legislation is available here.
On July 9, 2020, the Ontario government, in consultation with Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, has extended all emergency orders currently in force that were made under s.7.0.2(4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to July 22, 2020. The extension was made to ensure the province maintains the necessary flexibility to protect public health and safety as more businesses reopen and people go back to work.
The government intends to extend emergency orders to align with the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19)Act, 2020, if passed. This proposed legislation is part of the government’s plan to cautiously reopen Ontario in a way that recognizes the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 even after the provincial declaration of emergency has ended. The bill, if passed, would allow Ontario to continue its path to recovery by easing restrictions where appropriate, while maintaining important select tools to address the ongoing threat of this deadly virus and protect Ontarians.
On July 13, 2020, the Ontario government announced that Stage 3 of the province’s reopening framework would commence at 12:01 a.m. on Friday July 17, 2020 in specific regions, with nearly all businesses and public spaces permitted to reopen with public health and safety measures in place. According to a government press release, the following high-risk places and activities will not be permitted to reopen:
- amusement parks and water parks;
- buffet-style food services;
- dancing at restaurants and bars, other than by performers hired by the establishment following specific requirements;
- overnight stays at camps for children;
- private karaoke rooms;
- prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports;
- saunas, steam rooms, bath houses, and oxygen bars; and
- table games at casinos and gaming establishments.
For regions permitted to enter Stage 3, the province will increase gathering limits as follows, subject to physical distancing requirements:
- indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people; and
- outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people.
The following regions will be allowed to move into Stage 3 first, on Friday, July 17, 2020:
- Algoma Public Health
- Brant County Health Unit
- Chatham-Kent Public Health
- Eastern Ontario Health Unit
- Grey Bruce Health Unit
- Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit
- Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
- Huron Perth Public Health
- Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health
- Leeds Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
- Middlesex-London Health Unit
- North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit
- Northwestern Health Unit
- Ottawa Public Health
- Peterborough Public Health
- Porcupine Health Unit
- Public Health Sudbury & Districts
- Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services
- Renfrew County and District Health Unit
- Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit
- Southwestern Public Health
- Thunder Bay District Health Unit
- Timiskaming Health Unit
- Wellington-Dufferin-Guel! ph Public Health
The following regions will remain in Stage 2:
- Durham Region Health Department;
- Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit;
- Halton Region Public Health;
- Hamilton Public Health Services;
- Lambton Public Health;
- Niagara Region Public Health;
- Peel Public Health;
- Toronto Public Health;
- Windsor-Essex County Health Unit; and
- York Region Public Health.
At the beginning of each week, the province will continue to reassess local trends in public health indicators, including rates of transmission, hospital capacity, progress on testing and contact tracing, to determine if additional public health unit regions can progress to Stage 3. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health experts will continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health restrictions can be further loosened or if they need to be tightened or reapplied.
Regions remaining in Stage 2 will maintain the existing gathering limit of 10. Social circles in all stages at this point will also be kept to a maximum of 10 people province-wide, regardless of stage.
Beginning on July 27, 2020, child care centres will be permitted to operate with cohorts of 15 children, which is an increase from the current cohort cap of 10. This change will allow parents to return to work, and bring the child care sector to approximately 90 percent of its operating capacity before the COVID-19 outbreak.
On July 16, 2020, the Ontario government announced the extension of most emergency orders currently in force under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until July 29, 2020, including the orders regarding Stage 1 and Stage 2 closures. A full list of emergency orders currently in effect can be found here.