Province Announces Another Stay-at-Home Order: How Will This Impact Condominiums?
With the significant increase in COVID-19 cases across Ontario, the Ontario government has issued another stay-at-home order to limit people’s mobility and reduce the number of daily contacts with individuals outside the immediate household. The stay-at-home order will be effective as of Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., for 4 weeks, and generally requires everyone to remain at home except for the following purposes:
- Going to the grocery store, pharmacy, or other retailers for essential purposes;
- Accessing healthcare services;
- Work (where the work cannot be done remotely); and
Moreover, businesses are required to ensure that employees who are able to work from home do so.
In addition to the stay-at-home order, the following public health restrictions are in effect:
- Outdoor public gatherings and social gatherings are be restricted to five people.
- Individuals are required to wear a mask or a face covering in all indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open, and masks are recommended outdoors in places physical distancing cannot be exercised.
- All stores other than grocery stores and pharmacies are restricted to curbside pick up.
What does this third State of Emergency mean for condominiums?
Based on what we know so far, condominium Boards and management will have to continue to be vigilant in ensuring their residents comply with the above-mentioned restrictions, in addition to any restrictions that are already in place. Some of the key restrictions and requirements include the following:
- In-person indoor meetings (both Board Meetings and Owners’ Meetings) will not be possible (at least for the duration of the emergency), considering that indoor in-person meetings will only be possible between members of the same household.
- Masks or face coverings will have to be worn by residents at all times when leaving their units or accessing the common elements (with certain exceptions as outlined here).
- Indoor amenities will have to remain closed for the time being.
- Residents can still access outdoor common elements or amenities (if open and / or available) to exercise – as long as the gathering limit of five (5) people maximum is respected, users following social distancing guidelines, and the condominium has sanitizer and other hygiene measures in place.
- Non-essential construction and work projects do not appear to be impacted by this Order. While non-essential construction and renovation work may be permitted, Boards have the discretion to insist that the work be halted if they feel the work may not be safe to be completed at this time. Furthermore, condominium corporations could consider implementing policies with respect to non-essential construction, depending on the circumstances of their community.
As we have said throughout this pandemic, condominium Boards are best positioned to understand the specific nature and unique circumstances of their condominium(s).
At this time, Boards have full discretion to determine whether it is appropriate to open outdoor amenities, subject to human rights considerations.
Boards must weigh all relevant factors, such as the nature of the particular condo and the safety and well-being of residents and staff, in making this determination.
It is important to keep in mind that opening an outdoor amenity engages specific obligations with respect to implementing a safety plan, including having appropriate cleaning procedures in place. Failure to be aware of, or properly comply with, provincial protocols could open your condo up to liability.
We will continue to keep you updated on these important measures (and their impact on condominiums)!