On January 20, 2022, the Government of Ontario announced that the province will gradually be easing public health measures, beginning on January 31, 2022, with further easing of restrictions to occur in 21-day increments (January 31, February 21, and March 14, 2022).
January 31, 2022
Effective January 31 at 12:01 AM, Ontario will begin the process of gradually easing public health restrictions, including, but not limited to the following:
- Increasing social gathering limits to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
- Increasing or maintaining capacity limits at 50 per cent in indoor public settings, including but not limited to:
- Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments without dance facilities;
- Retailers (including grocery stores and pharmacies)
- Shopping malls;
- Non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms;
- Meeting and event spaces;
- Recreational amenities and amusement parks, including water parks;
- Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos and similar attractions; and
- Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments
- Religious services, rites, or ceremonies.
- Allowing spectator areas of facilities such as sporting events, concert venues and theatres to operate at 50 per cent seated capacity or 500 people, whichever is less.
February 21, 2022
Effective February 21, Ontario will further lift public health restrictions, including the following:
- Increasing social gathering limits to 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
- Removing capacity limits in indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required, including but not limited to restaurants, indoor sports and recreational facilities, cinemas, as well as other settings that choose to opt-in to proof of vaccination requirements.
- Permitting spectator capacity at sporting events, concert venues, and theatres at 50 per cent capacity.
- Limiting capacity in most remaining indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is not required to the number of people that can maintain two metres of physical distance.
- Indoor religious services, rites or ceremonies limited to the number that can maintain two metres of physical distance, with no limit if proof of vaccination is required.
- Increasing indoor capacity limits to 25 per cent in the remaining higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, including nightclubs, wedding receptions in meeting or event spaces where there is dancing.
March 14, 2022
Effective March 14, Ontario will take the following additional steps to ease public health measures:
- Lifting capacity limits in all indoor public settings. Proof of vaccination will be maintained in existing settings in addition to other regular measures.
- Lifting remaining capacity limits on religious services, rites, or ceremonies.
- Increase social gathering limits to 50 people indoors with no limits for outdoor gatherings.
Ontario has also launched the Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program to support businesses required to close or reduce capacity due to public health measures. Through the new program, the Government will provide eligible businesses with a rebate payment of up to 100 percent for property tax and energy costs they incur while subject to these restrictions. Applications opened on January 18, 2022.
The Government is also introducing a COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant which will give businesses subject to closure under the modified “Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen” a $10,000 grant. The money will be provided to eligible businesses in February.
Moreover, the Government is also making up to $7.5 billion available through a six-month interest and penalty-free period for Ontario businesses to make payments for most provincially administered taxes. This penalty and interest-free period started on January 1, 2022.
We will continue to update our clients with information as soon as it becomes available. If you have any questions about this topic, other COVID-19 related questions, or any questions relating to workplace law generally, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer, or refer to the Firm’s COVID-19 website resources.