Condos and Gyms… Where Are We Now: Province Introduces New COVID-19 Response Framework and Restrictions

The Government of Ontario has introduced the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework, which will modify restrictions that are currently imposed province wide. The new Framework is expected to be in effect as of 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, November 7, 2020.

Under the new Framework, public health unit regions will be categorized under 5 different levels:

  • Green (Prevent – Standard Measures)
  • Yellow (Protect – Strengthened Measures)
  • Orange (Restrict – Intermediate Measures)
  • Red (Stringent Measures)
  • Grey (Lockdown – Maximum Measures)

The above levels determine the public health measures and restrictions that are imposed in each public health region, and these restrictions will be scaled back or tightened over time depending on the trends and the number of COVID-19 cases in each region. The government’s objective is to bring every public health unit region to the Green (Prevent) level.

Importantly, as of November 7th, 2020, the public health regions of Ottawa, Toronto, Peel, York, and Eastern Ontario will be placed at the Orange (Restrict) level, while Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health will be placed at the Green (Prevent) level. Moreover, there are currently no regions at the Red (Control) or the Grey (Lockdown) levels.

Note: In all levels but the Grey / Lockdown level, gyms can remain open, subject to certain restrictions. Condos with amenities such as gyms can now consider whether re-opening these amenities makes sense for their particular community (in accordance with the restrictions set forth by Public Health, as further discussed below).  While the province is permitting gyms to be opened, this does not mean that the Corporation is required to open the gym.  The decision on whether or not to reopen indoor amenities rests with each Board. And Boards may ultimately decide that the safest way to proceed is to keep certain indoor amenities closed for the time being where the risk of virus transmission is increased. This is certainly a reasonable decision for a Board to make depending on their community’s particular circumstances.

What does this mean for gathering limits and openings?

Under the new Framework, the following general public health measures will continue to be in effect across the Green, Yellow and Orange regions (this includes Ottawa and Kingston):

  1. Gathering limit for certain organized public events and social gatherings (such as barbecues):
    • 10 people indoors
    • 25 people outdoors
  2. Gathering limit for organized public events and gatherings
    • 50 people indoors
    • 100 people outdoors
  3. Gathering limit for religious services, weddings and funerals:
    • 30% capacity indoors
    • 100 people outdoor

In addition, there is the requirement to wear face coverings at indoor workplaces and indoor public spaces (with certain exceptions) as well as the requirement for workplace screening and worker protections (e.g. eye protection) in establishments/facilities where patrons without face coverings are within 2 meters of workers.

The new Framework also proposes measures for specific sectors and types of establishments. Here are some of the important sector-specific measures for certain sectors in the Orange (Restrict) public health regions – which includes Ottawa. Please consult the Framework for the complete list of sector-specific measures by level. 

Sports and Recreational Fitness

  • Maximum 50 people per facility (revoke CMOH approved plan) in all combined recreational fitness spaces or programs (not pools, rinks at arenas, community centres, and multipurpose facilities)
  • Require screening of patrons, including spectators (e.g. questionnaire)
  • Limit duration of stay (e.g. 60 minutes); exemption for sports
  • No spectators permitted (exemption for parent/guardian supervision of children)

Meeting and event spaces

  • Maximum of 50 people per facility (revoke capacity limit on a per room basis as per CMOH plan)
  • Limit operating hours, establishments close at 10 p.m.
  • Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • No consumption of liquor between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m.
  •  Limit of 4 people may be seated together
  • Require screening of patrons (e.g., questionnaire)

Personal Care services

  • Services requiring removal of face coverings prohibited
  • Change rooms & showers closed
  •  Bath houses, other adult venues, hot tubs, floating pools and sensory deprivation pods closed (some exceptions)
  • Require screening of patrons (e.g., questionnaire)

Restaurant, bars and food and drink establishments

  • 50-person indoor capacity limit
  •  Limit operating hours, establishments close at 10 p.m.
  • Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • No consumption of liquor between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m.
  • Require screening of patrons (e.g., questionnaire)
  • Limit of 4 people may be seated together • Closure of strip clubs

PLEASE NOTE: The Framework provides that, for public health regions at the Orange (Restrict) level, the above-outlined measures apply in addition to “Measures from the previous levels”. Therefore, we strongly encourage readers to consult the complete Framework to be informed about the full breadth of the measures and restrictions by level.

The new Framework and associated restrictions will undoubtedly have an impact on the day-to-day lives of condominium owners and residents. As the situation continues to evolve, we will be sure to keep you updated!

Stay tuned to Condo Law News to keep up to date on the latest developments in condominium law!