Vaccines – Changing Government Directives… Our Thoughts for Condominiums
We have been keeping a close eye on the ever-changing COVID-19 situation and the new directives coming out about vaccines, vaccine policies and vaccine passports.
Since our post about mandatory vaccinations last month, some universities are requiring proof of vaccinations. The federal government is also requiring proof of vaccination for federal public servants, and those who are travelling by air and train. We now also have provinces, including Ontario, introducing vaccine passports (and related vaccination requirements) for some organizations and for some activities.
We know that this brings up many questions for condominium corporations. Most notably: Do you need a vaccine policy? Do you need to have a vaccination passport system in place for the condominium or amenities?
Right now, we think it is too early to say whether or not you need a vaccine policy; and we think it is too soon to say whether or not vaccination requirements will apply to any condominium amenities. Why? We just don’t have enough information to know how condominiums will be impacted by the recent statements made by the government with respect to vaccine policies and passports. We also don’t yet have the relevant provincial Regulations.
So in summary: It is not yet clear that proof of vaccination (vaccine passports) will be required in condominium buildings. And it’s not yet clear that condominiums will be required to have vaccine policies. That said: Condominiums can certainly consider such policies, if they wish.
For now, we need to watch for the coming Regulations, and we need to be watching Public Health guidelines.
Here is where we are right now:
- The government has passed a regulation to confirm that vaccine policies may be mandated, and if so, identified organizations (which might include condominiums) would need to implement such policies.
- To date, only certain high-risk settings (hospitals, home and community service care providers, post secondary institutions, retirement homes, etc. ) have been mandated to implement vaccine policies. As such, there is no requirement that condominiums implement vaccination policies at this time. Again: In our view such policies are currently an option, but not an obligation (for condominiums). HOWEVER: Ottawa Public Health (“OPH”) has just published a guide to support workplace vaccination policies. In the announcement, OPH strongly recommends that all Ottawa employers “implement workplace vaccination policies to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission”. Based on this, it is our view that condominium corporations with employees should consider implementing a vaccination policy. We have created such policies and can certainly assist any condominium corporation that wishes to have one.
- The Ontario Government has mandated that, as of September 22, 2021, Ontarians that are eligible to receive the vaccine will be required to show proof of vaccination in certain public places. These include:
- Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios, delivery and takeout).
- Nightclubs, including outdoor areas.
- Meeting and event spaces like banquet halls and convention centres.
- Sports and fitness facilities and gyms, with the exception of youth recreational sports.
- Sporting events.
- Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments.
- Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas.
- Strip clubs, bath houses and sex clubs.
- Racing venues.
Given that condominium pools are generally classified as Class B Public Pools, there is a possibility that an indoor pool could fall within this mandate. There is also a question of whether indoor condominium gyms could fall within these requirements. HOWEVER: We need further information and guidance from the province (including the actual regulation) on whether these requirements will affect indoor condominium amenities such as gyms and pools.
At this time, we do not believe that other condominium amenities would fall under the mandate (including guest suites and party rooms) as they are clearly not public.
In summary, we are still in the information gathering stage with respect to vaccine policies and mandates as they would apply to residents in condominium buildings. There are recommendations from OPH that all Employers prepare vaccination policies. However, this is not yet a requirement.
Condominium corporations have a duty and the authority to manage the common elements under the Condominium Act, 1998, which must be balanced with residents’ rights and privacy. Based on the current directives, we continue to feel that there is real doubt about whether or not a condominium can impose mandatory vaccination or a vaccine passport on its employees and/or residents.
However, the guidelines and protocols continue to change and we will definitely provide further comments and information as further regulations are created and directives are made.
Stay safe and stay tuned to Condo Law News to keep up to date on the interaction between COVID-19 and condominiums!