COVID-19: Five New Categories

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As you may know, in early November the Ontario government changed from its three stages COVID-19 response model to one with a more regional focus with five different levels. Today, we will briefly summarize the new model and key requirements for each level. It is impossible to provide an adequate summary of the very detailed regulations in a single post without making it 100s of pages in length. Instead, we will provide a list of other resources where you can find more detailed information.

Overview

As mentioned above, there are now five levels in the new model, each with its own restrictions. The five levels are:

Each level has different restrictions and requirements designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As the region enters a higher level, the restrictions increase and some businesses or services must close. There are a few similarities in the levels, including but not limited to:

  1. Masks and face coverings that cover the mouth, nose, and chin are required in all indoor public areas, subject to exceptions in regulations (i.e. not in a pool, children under the age of two, people with health conditions that make it hard for them to breathe properly).
  2. Some amenities, like steam rooms and saunas, must close in all levels.

It is important to keep in mind that some municipalities and local medical officers have added additional restrictions or requirements to the provincial health measures. As such, in addition to keeping on top of the provincial measures you should check with your local public health unit or municipality to see if there are any other requirements.

There are a number of regulations, public health orders, and other requirements that condominiums must comply with. A condominium that fails to comply, or ensure residents comply, could face significant fines and penalties.

Prevent – Green

Limits for events and gatherings held in private residences are 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors. Limits for organized public events in staffed facilities are 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.

Most amenities can remain open with some restrictions. For example, for recreational fitness facilities, 2m physical distancing is required and face coverings are required, except while exercising.

Protect – Yellow

The Protect level has the same limits on the number of people at gatherings as the Prevent level, but it adds conditions and restrictions. Operators must obtain contact information for tracing, create a safety plan, and limit the number of people who sit together to 6.

Most amenities can remain open with some restrictions. For example, for recreational fitness facilities, 3m physical distancing is required and face coverings are required, except while exercising. Operators must also use a reservation system for entry, obtain contact information, and create a safety plan.

Restrict – Orange

The Restrict level has the same limits on the number of people at gatherings as the Prevent and Protect levels, but adds further conditions. Operators must obtain contact information for tracing purposes, create a safety plan, limit the number of people who sit together to 4, and screen guests in accordance with the instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Most amenities can remain open like with the previous levels with some further restrictions. For example, for recreational fitness facilities, all of the requirements of Protect apply plus the following: limit of 90 minutes per person and screening of guests is required in accordance with the instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Control – Red

The Control level further limits the number of people at gatherings. For organized public events and gatherings, the limits are 5 people for indoor events and 25 people for outdoor events. Operators must obtain contact information for tracing purposes, create a safety plan, limit the number of people who sit together to 4, and screen guests in accordance with the instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Most amenities can remain open like with the previous levels, but there are further restrictions on the number of people. The limit for gyms and fitness studios is reduced to 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors. The other requirements of the previous levels apply, such as gathering contact information, screening of guests, limiting time to 90 minutes, and creating a safety plan.

Lockdown – Grey

The Lockdown level is the most restrictive. It prohibits gatherings, except with members of the same household. If physical distancing can be maintained, outdoor events of no more than 10 people are permitted. Indoor amenities must generally close, unless condominiums can make “contactless” or “curbside” delivery options work (i.e. delivering books or puzzles to units instead of allowing residents to enter the room to pick them up). Outdoor amenities may be open with some restrictions. There are other restrictions that may limit the use of the units by owners, such as real estate showings by appointment only and limits on short-term rentals after November 22, 2020.

Resources

If you want to find out which level a region is in you can check the Ontario website here: COVID-19 response framework: keeping Ontario safe and open | Ontario.ca

There are three regulations that describe the various requirements:

O. Reg. 82/20 (Lockdown)

O. Reg. 263/20 (Red-Control)

O. Reg. 364/20 (Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, and Orange-Restrict)

The Ontario government has also created a guide for holding meetings and events during the pandemic:

Guidance for meeting and event facilities during COVID-19 | Ontario.ca

The Ontario government has a summary on masks and face coverings:

https://www.ontario.ca/page/face-coverings-and-face-masks

Conclusion

Some parts of the regulations are not clear as far as their application to the common elements and amenities within condominiums. The requirements change frequently and with little notice. There are additional requirements at the municipal level that do not always match the requirements at the provincial level. I find it hard to keep track of it all, even as a lawyer who knows how to find legislation and other requirements. Condominiums should ask their managers and lawyers for advice when they need it, especially as their region moves from one level to another.

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