The world has been dealing with COVID-19 for well over one year now. Since then, countries, states and municipalities across the world have implemented lockdowns to try to decrease the number of infections. In Ontario, we have gone through several lockdowns, the latest of which is slated to end soon. The government of Ontario has recently introduced its plan to reopen the province. It is called the Three-Step Roadmap to Safely Reopen the Province. This plan will allow businesses to slowly reopen and/or expand their capacity for customers. Below is an outline of the business impacts of the three stages, to help employers plan ahead.
Three-Step Roadmap to Safely Reopen the Province
Ontario has already reopened outdoor amenities, such as golf courses and other sports and recreational outdoor spaces. Officially step one of the roadmap will not start until about the middle of June, when at least 60 percent of Ontario residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. June 14 is the expected date, however this has yet to be confirmed.
Ontario Roadmap: Step One
Step One includes reopening/expanding the following amenities (subject to limitations):
- Outdoor gatherings up to 10 people;
- Outdoor dining up to 4 people per table;
- Outdoor fitness classes, personal training and sports training up to 10 people;
- Essential retail at 25 per cent capacity and can sell all goods (including discount and big box);
- Non-essential retail at 15 per cent capacity;
- Retail stores in malls closed unless the stores have a street facing entrance;
- Outdoor religious services, rites and ceremonies with capacity limited to permit 2 metres’ physical distancing;
- Horse racing and motor speedways without spectators;
- Outdoor horse riding;
- Outdoor pools and wading pools with capacity limited to permit 2 metres’ physical distancing;
- Outdoor zoos, landmarks, historic sites, and botanical gardens with capacity limits;
- Campsites, campgrounds and short-term rentals; and
- Overnight camping at Ontario Parks.
Ontario restaurants and retailers (other than those only accessible by entering an indoor mall) will be able to bring at least some staff back on board, although with the restrictions in place, employment will still be considerably reduced. Fitness centres and gyms may be able to partially reopen with outdoor facilities, training sessions and classes.
Ontario Roadmap: Step Two
If after 21 days, after step one has occurred, at least 70 percent of the province has been vaccinated, it is likely we will be able to enter step two of the roadmap plan sometime in July.
This includes reopening/expanding the following amenities (subject to limitations):
- Outdoor gatherings up to 25 people;
- Indoor gatherings up to 5 people and other restrictions;
- Outdoor dining up to 6 people per table;
- Outdoor sports and leagues;
- Overnight camps;
- Outdoor meeting and event spaces with capacity limits;
- Non-essential retail at 25 percent capacity; essential retail at 50 percent capacity;
- Personal care services where face coverings can be worn at all times with capacity limits;
- Outdoor cinemas and performing arts with capacity limits;
- Horse racing and motor speedways for spectators with capacity limits;
- Outdoor tour and guide services with capacity limits;
- Indoor religious services, rites or ceremony gatherings at 15 per cent capacity;
- Public libraries with capacity limits;
- Outdoor waterparks and amusement parks with capacity limits; and
- Fairs and rural exhibitions with capacity limits.
Retailers and restaurants will be allowed to expand their capacity, potentially allowing employers to bring more staff on board. Indoor dining will still not be allowed, however outdoor dining restrictions will be somewhat loosened. Personal care services, such as hairdressers, spas, and nail salons, can reopen, but of course with very strict capacity limits. And employers should remember that masks and social distancing will likely still be a mandatory condition of reopening/expanding capacity.
If, after another 21 days have passed, the province has vaccinated at least 70 to 80 percent of adults with one dose and 25 percent of adults with two doses, capacity limits will be expanded further. This is also subject to infection rates, regardless of the progress with vaccinations.
Ontario Roadmap: Step Three
- Outdoor gatherings with larger capacity limits;
- Indoor gatherings with larger capacity limits and other restrictions;
- Indoor dining with capacity limits;
- Indoor sports and recreational fitness facilities with capacity limits;
- Indoor meeting and event spaces with capacity limits;
- Essential and non-essential retail capacity expanded;
- Personal care services with capacity expanded and other restrictions;
- Indoor cinemas and performing arts facilities with capacity limits;
- Indoor and outdoor religious services, rites or ceremony gatherings with capacity limited to permit 2 metres’ physical distancing;
- Indoor museums and art galleries with capacity limits;
- Indoor zoos, aquariums, waterparks and amusement parks with capacity limits;
- Casinos and bingo halls with capacity limits; and
- Other outdoor activities from Step Two permitted to operate indoors.
In this step, restaurants will finally be able to open indoor dining with strict capacity limits. Retail capacity will be expanded, as will personally care services capacities. Casinos, movie theatres, and bingo halls will also be allowed to reopen with capacity limits and safety protocols in place.
Employers should be planning ahead with respect to staffing, and safety protocols now, so they are ready to resume once given the green light. To keep staff and clients safe, employers should have a clear understanding of their requirements with respect to capacity limits and safety plans well in advance of opening. Flexibility will also be key, as these stages are each contingent on a number of factors.
Contact Grosman Gale Fletcher Hopkins LLP in Toronto With Employment Concerns or Questions Related to COVID-19 Mandates
For advice on employee rights, employer liability and other employment or labour law matters, contact the offices of Toronto employment lawyers Grosman Gale Fletcher Hopkins LLP. We regularly advise workplace parties on a wide range of legal workplace issues. Contact us online or by phone at 416-364-9599 to schedule a consultation.
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