COVID-19

Ontario Government Announces Provincial Lockdown Commencing December 26, 2020

The Ontario Government has announced a province-wide lockdown, effective December 26, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. The lockdown will last for a period of 28 days for Southern Ontario, and for a period of 14 days for Northern Ontario. The COVID-19 Response Framework currently in place will therefore be paused once the provincial lockdown comes into effect, and re-enacted at the end of the lockdown period.

Southern Ontario includes the following public health units:

1. Brant County Health Unit

2. Chatham-Kent Public Health

3. City of Hamilton Public Health Services

4. Durham Region Health Department

5. Eastern Ontario Health Unit

6. Grey Bruce Health Unit

7. Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit

8. Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit

9. Halton Region Public Health

10. Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

11. Huron Perth Public Health

12. Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health

13. Lambton Public Health

14. Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit

15. Middlesex-London Health Unit

16. Niagara Region Public Health

17. Ottawa Public Health

18. Peel Public Health

19. Peterborough Public Health

20. Region of Waterloo Public Health

21. Renfrew County and District Health Unit

22. Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit

23. Southwestern Public Health

24. Toronto Public Health

25. Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health

26. Windsor-Essex County Health Unit

27. York Region Public Health

The following measures will be in effect as part of the provincial lockdown:

General Public Health Measures

  • Public Health Advice, Recommendations and Instructions: Businesses or organizations must operate in compliance with the advice, recommendations and instructions on physical distancing, cleaning or disinfecting and working remotely.
  • Physical distancing and line management: Businesses or places must not permit patrons to line up inside the business or place, or to line up or congregate outside the business unless they are maintaining a physical distance of at least 2 metres from other groups, and is wearing a face covering (unless entitled to an exception).
  • Screening: Businesses or organizations must operate in compliance with the advice, recommendations and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health on screening, including screening any workers or essential visitors entering the work environment.
  • Personal protective equipment: Personal protective equipment that provides protection of the eyes, nose, and mouth, is required if a worker is required to come within 2 metres of another person who is not wearing a face covering and not separated by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.
  • Capacity limits: All businesses or facilities must limit capacity so that every member of the public is able to maintain two metres of physical distancing from every other person, and limit the number of people occupying any room that is open to the public to 50% capacity of the particular room. Some businesses or facilities have additional capacity restrictions that apply beyond the general capacity requirements. All businesses or facilities that engage in retail sales to the public must post a sign in a location visible to the public that states the maximum capacity they are permitted to operate under.
    • The maximum number of persons permitted in a business or facility that is operating at 50 per cent capacity is determined by taking the total square metres of floor space accessible to the public in the business or facility, not including shelving and store fixtures, dividing that number by 8 and rounding the result down to the nearest whole number.
    • The maximum number of persons permitted in a business or facility that is operating at 25 per cent capacity is determined by taking the total square metres of floor space accessible to the public in the business or facility, not including shelving and store fixtures, dividing that number by 16 and rounding the result down to the nearest whole number.
  • Cleaning and disinfection: Businesses or places that are open shall ensure that equipment, washrooms, locker rooms, change rooms, showers that are accessible to the public are cleaned and disinfected as frequently as is necessary to maintain a sanitary condition.
  • Face coverings: Businesses or organizations must ensure that masks or face coverings are worn by any person (including members of the public and workers) in the indoor area of the business or organization, with limited exceptions.
  • Safety plans: Requirement for all businesses open to prepare and make available a COVID-19 safety plan. A copy of the plan shall be made available to any person for review upon request, and be posted where it would come to the attention of individuals working in or attending the business.

The provincial government has also stated employers in all industries should make every effort to allow employees to work from home.

Business Permitted to Open and Sector-Specific Public Health and Workplace Safety Measures

Per Ontario Regulation 82/20: Rules for Areas in Stage 1, the following businesses will be permitted to open, subject to the conditions set out below:

  • Supply chain: Businesses that supply businesses or places that are permitted to open within Ontario, or that supply businesses or services that have been declared essential in a jurisdiction outside of Ontario, with the support, products, supplies, systems, or services, including processing, packaging, warehousing, distribution, delivery, and maintenance necessary to operate.
  • Meeting or event spaces: Only permitted to open for:
    • The operation of child care centres and authorized recreational and skill building programs within the meaning of the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014
    • Court services
    • Government services
    • Mental health and addictions support services (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous) permitted to a maximum of 10 people
    • Social services
  • Short-term rentals:
    • Only to be provided to individuals who are in need of housing
    • Does not apply to short-term rental accommodations that were reserved before the “Safe at Home” restrictions period
  • Restaurants, bars, and other food or drink establishments:
    • Take-out, drive-thru, and delivery permitted only
    • Includes the sale of alcohol
  • Driving instruction:
    • No in-person driving instruction permitted except:
      • For instruction for drivers of commercial motor vehicles
      • Where the instruction is part of the Ontario Driver Certification Program administered by the Ministry of Transportation and involves the operation of motor vehicles for which:
        • A class of driver’s licence other than Class G, G1, G2, M, M1 or M2 is required
        • An air brake endorsement is required
        • Or that is provided by a private career college, in accordance with certain conditions
  • Retailers:
    • Supermarkets, convenience stores, indoor farmer’s markets and other stores that primarily sell food:
      • Open for in-person retail, subject to:
        • Members of the public being able to maintain two metres physical distance from every other person in the business or facility
        • The number of persons occupying any room that is open to the public does not exceed 50% capacity of the particular room
      • Curbside pick-up and delivery permitted
    • Pharmacies:
      • Open for in-person retail, subject to:
        • Members of the public being able to maintain two metres physical distance from every other person in the business or facility
        • The number of persons occupying any room that is open to the public does not exceed 50% capacity of the particular room
      • Curbside pick-up and delivery permitted
    • Discount and big box retailers: Discount and big box retailers that engage in retail sales to the public and meet the following conditions:
      • Sell groceries to the public
      • Limit the number of persons occupying any room that is open to the public in the business to not exceed 25% capacity of the particular room
      • Curbside pick-up and delivery permitted
    • Safety supply stores, businesses that sell, rent or repair assistive/mobility/medical devices, and optical stores that sell prescription eyewear to the public:
      • By appointment only
      • Curbside pick-up and delivery permitted
    • Stores that sell liquor, including beer, wine and spirits:
      • Limit the number of persons occupying any room that is open to the public in the business does not exceed 25% of the particular room
      • Curbside pick-up and delivery permitted
    • Shopping malls:
      • Closed for in-person retail. Members of the public are only permitted to enter the mall to:
        • Access businesses and organizations permitted to be open (e.g., pharmacy, dentist); food court open for take-away, or by appointment only to facilitate pick-up as set out below
        • Access court services and government services
      • Shopping mall may establish:
        • A single designated location inside the shopping mall for order pick-up by patrons. Pick-up inside the shopping mall must be by appointment only
        • Any number of designated locations outside the shopping mall for curbside pick-up by patrons
      • Members of the public not permitted to loiter in any area of the shopping mall that is not related to the purpose of their visit
    • Cannabis retail stores operating under the authority of a retail store authorization issued under the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018:
      • By curbside pick-up or delivery only
    • Garden centres:
      • Curbside pick-up and delivery permitted
    • Motor vehicle sales:
      • Includes cars, trucks and motorcycles; recreational vehicles including motor homes; trailers and travel trailers; boats and other watercraft; and other motorized vehicles, including power-assisted bicycles, golf carts, scooters, snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles
      • By appointment only
      • Members of the public must not be permitted where products are neither sold nor displayed for sale
      • Subject to certain conditions related to test drives
    • Outdoor markets:
      • Includes farmer’s markets and holiday markets only if they primarily sell food to the public
      • Must require members of the public to remain outdoors at all times, including for curbside pick-up or delivery
    • General Retail (all other retail, including hardware stores, pet food, computer stores, etc.):
      • Curbside pick-up or delivery only (in-person retail shopping not permitted)
      • Sales must be exclusively made so patrons are not required to enter the indoor area of the business, including curbside pick-up or delivery
  • Services:
    • Rental and leasing services, including automobile, commercial and light industrial machinery and equipment rental:
      • By appointment only
    • Gas stations and other fuel suppliers
    • Automated and self-service car washes
    • Laundromats and drycleaners
    • Snow clearing and landscaping services
    • Security services for residences, businesses and other properties
    • Domestic services:
      • Only to support children, seniors or vulnerable persons, including housekeeping, cooking, indoor and outdoor cleaning and maintenance services
    • Vehicle and equipment repair and essential maintenance and vehicle and equipment rental services:
      • By appointment only
    • Courier, postal, shipping, moving and delivery services
    • Funeral and related services
    • Staffing services including providing temporary help
    • Veterinary services:
      • For services that are necessary for the immediate health and welfare of the animal only, or provided through curb side pick-up and drop-off of the animal
    • Other businesses that provide for the health and welfare of animals, including farms, boarding kennels, stables, animal shelters and research facilities
    • Businesses that provide pet training exclusively for service animals
    • Hotels, motels, lodges, cabins, cottages, resorts and other shared rental accommodation, including student residences
      • Any indoor pools, indoor fitness centres, or other indoor recreational facilities that are part of the operation of these businesses, are closed
    • Seasonal campgrounds:
      • Must be made available only for trailers and recreational vehicles used by individuals in need of housing or are permitted to be there by seasonal contract
      • Only campsites with electricity, water service and facilities for sewage disposal may be provided for use
      • All recreational and other shared facilities, excluding washrooms and showers must be closed
      • Other areas of the seasonal campground must be closed to the general public and must only be opened for the purpose of preparing the seasonal campground for reopening
    • Community centres:
      • Permitted to open for:
        • The operation of child care centres and authorized recreational and skill building programs within the meaning of the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014
        • Mental health and addictions support services (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous) permitted to a maximum of 10 people o Social services
    • Cheque cashing services
  • Financial services:
    • Capital markets and related securities trading and advisory services
    • Banking/credit union activities including credit intermediation
    • Insurance
    • Land registration services
    • Pension and benefits payment services
    • Financial services including payroll and payment processing and accounting and tax services
  • Real estate (including pre-sale construction):
    • No open houses – showing property permitted by appointment only
  • Telecommunications and IT infrastructure/service providers:
    • Information Technology (IT) services, including online services, software products and the facilities necessary for their operation and delivery
    • Telecommunications providers and services (phone, internet, radio, cell phones etc.) and facilities necessary for their operation and delivery
    • Retail stores operated by a telecommunications provider or service may only permit members of the public to enter the premises by appointment and only for repairs or technical support
    • Newspapers, radio and television broadcasting
  • Maintenance:
    • Maintenance, repair and property management services that manage and maintain the safety, security, sanitation and operation of institutional, commercial, industrial and residential properties and buildings
  • Transportation services:
    • Businesses and facilities that provide transportation services, including:
      • Transportation services provided by air, water, road, and rail, including taxis and other private transportation providers, and
      • Support services for transportation services, including:
        • logistical support, distribution services, warehousing and storage, truck stops and tow operators, and
        • services that support the operations and safety of transportation systems including maintenance and repairs
      • Marinas, boating clubs and other organizations that maintain docking facilities for members or patrons with conditions
      • Businesses that provide and support online retail, including by providing warehousing, storage and distribution of goods that are ordered online
  • Manufacturing:
    • Businesses that extract, manufacture, process and distribute goods, products, equipment and materials, including businesses that manufacture inputs to other manufacturers (e.g. primary metal/ steel, blow molding, component manufacturers, chemicals, etc. that feed the end-product manufacturer), regardless of whether those other manufacturers are inside or outside of Ontario, together with businesses that support and facilitate the movement of goods within integrated North American and global supply chains
  • Agriculture and food production:
    • Businesses that produce food and beverages, and agricultural products including plants, including by farming, harvesting, aquaculture, hunting and fishing
    • Businesses that process, manufacture or distribute food, beverages, crops, agricultural products, animal products and by-products
    • Businesses that support the food or agricultural products supply chains and the health and safety of food, animals and plants
  • Construction:
    • Construction activities or projects and related services that support construction activities or projects, including demolition services
    • Land surveyors
  • Resources and energy:
    • Businesses that provide and ensure the domestic and global continuity of supply of resources, including, resource exploration, mining, forestry, aggregates, petroleum, petroleum by-products and chemicals
    • Electricity generation, transmission, distribution and storage and natural gas distribution, transmission and storage
  • Community services:
    • Businesses that deliver or support the delivery of community services including:
      • Sewage treatment and disposal
      • Collecting, transporting, storing, processing, disposing or recycling of any type of waste • Potable drinking water
      • Critical infrastructure repair and maintenance including roads, dams, bridges etc.
      • Environmental rehabilitation, management and monitoring, and spill clean-up and response
      • Administrative authorities that regulate and inspect businesses
      • Professional and social services that support the legal and justice system
      • Government services including but not limited to policing and law enforcement, fire and emergency services, paramedics, coroner and pathology services, corrections and court services, licences and permits
      • Allotment gardens or community gardens
  • Facilities for indoor and outdoor sports and recreational fitness activities:
    • Closure of all indoor and outdoor sports and recreational fitness facilities except for:
      • Facilities operated or for the sole use of high performance athletes, including parasport athletes, and specified professional leagues (e.g., NHL, CFL, MLS, NBA) and
      • Facilities opened solely for specified purposes (e.g. child care)
    • Community centres and multi-purpose facilities (e.g., YMCA) allowed to be open for permitted activities (e.g., child care services, mental health and addiction support services [limited to 10 people maximum], social services)
    • All subject to conditions
  • Outdoor recreational amenities:
    • Outdoor recreational amenities permitted to open include:
      • Parks and recreational areas
      • Baseball diamonds o Batting cages
      • Soccer, football and sports fields
      • Tennis, platform tennis, table tennis and pickleball courts o Basketball courts o BMX parks
      • Skate parks
      • Golf courses and driving ranges
      • Frisbee golf locations
      • Cycling tracks and bike trails o Horse riding facilities
      • Shooting ranges, including those operated by rod and gun clubs
      • Ice rinks
      • Snowmobile, cross country, dogsledding, ice-skating and snow-shoe trails
      • Playgrounds
      • Portions of parks or recreational areas containing outdoor fitness equipment
      • Tobogganing hills and skating trails
      • A permitted outdoor recreational amenity may only open if:
      • Any person who enters or uses the amenity maintains a physical distance of at least two metres from other person using the amenity (excluding members of the same household)
      • Team sports, or other sports or games where people may come within two metres of each other, are not practiced or played within the amenity
      • Any locker rooms, change rooms, showers and clubhouses remain closed, except to the extent they provide access to equipment storage, a washroom or a portion of the amenity that is used to provide first aid
    • Ski hills are closed
  • Research:
    • Business and organizations that maintain research facilities and engage in research, including medical research and other research and development activities
  • Health care and social services:
    • Organizations and providers that deliver home care services or personal support services to seniors and persons with disabilities
    • Regulated health professionals
    • Professionals or organizations that provide in-person counselling services
    • Organizations that provide health care including retirement homes, hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, independent health facilities and mental health and addictions counselling supports
    • Laboratories and specimen collection centres
    • Manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers of pharmaceutical products and medical supplies, including medications, medical isotopes, vaccines and antivirals, medical devices and medical supplies
    • Manufacturers, distributors and businesses that provide logistical support of or for products and/or services that support the delivery of health care in all locations
    • Organizations that provide critical personal support services in home or residential services for individuals with physical disabilities
    • Organizations that support the provision of food, shelter, safety or protection, and/or social services and other necessities of life to economically disadvantaged and other vulnerable individuals
    • Businesses that are primarily engaged in the provision of health and safety training with conditions
  • Media industries:
    • Sound recording, production, publishing and distribution businesses
    • Film and television production, including all supporting activities such as hair, makeup and wardrobe:
      • No studio audiences permitted to be on the film or television set
      • No more than 10 performers may be permitted to be on the film or television set
      • Set must be configured and operated in such a way as to enable persons on the set to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from other persons, except where necessary for the filming of the film or television production
      • Persons who provide hair or makeup services must wear appropriate personal protective equipment
      • Singers and players of brass or wind instruments must be separated from any other performers by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier
    • Film and television postproduction, visual effects and animation studios
    • Book and periodical production, publishing and distribution businesses
    • Commercial and industrial photography
      • Does not permit retail studios to open
    • Interactive digital media businesses, including:
      • Computer system software or application developers and publishers, and
      • Video game developers and publishers
  • Entertainment:
    • Concert venues, theatres and cinemas:
      • May open for the purpose of rehearsing or performing a recorded or broadcasted concert, artistic event, theatrical performance or other performance with conditions, including:
        • No spectators may be permitted in the concert venue, theatre or cinema
        • No more than 10 performers may be permitted on stage
        • Every performer and other person who performs work for the concert venue, theatre or cinema must maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person, except,
          • if it is necessary for the performers or other persons to be closer to each other for purposes of the performance or rehearsal, or
          • where necessary for the purposes of health and safety
        • Singers and players of brass or wind instruments must be separated from any other performers by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier
        • Contact information recording required
      • No drive-in or drive-through events
  • Libraries:
    • Libraries may open:
      • For contactless curbside, delivery, and pick-up
      • For permitted services (e.g., child care services, mental health and addiction support services to a limit of 10 persons [AA meetings], provision of social services)
      • If they ensure that circulating materials returned to the library are disinfected or quarantined for an appropriate period of time before they are recirculated
      • Contact information recording required
  • Museums and cultural amenities: Closed
  • Horse racing: Training only, no races, no members of the public (i.e. spectators)
  • Night clubs and strip clubs: Only permitted to open if they operate as a food or drink establishment, subject to conditions that apply to restaurants and bars
  • Zoos and aquariums: Closed to the public – permitted to operate for the care of animals
  • Amusement parks, water parks: Closed
  • Bathhouses and sex clubs: Closed
  • Tour guide services: Closed
  • Motorsports: Closed
  • Personal care services: Closed
  • Casinos, Bingo Halls and Gaming Establishments: Closed

Organized Public Events and Social Gatherings, Schools, Child Care

  • Events and gatherings:
    • No indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household (people you live with). Individuals who live alone and single parents may have exclusive, close contact with another household.
    • Limit for outdoor organized public events and social gatherings must comply with health advice on physical distancing: 10 people outdoors.
  • Weddings, funerals and other religious services, rites or ceremonies: Where physical distancing can be maintained:
    • 10 people indoors;
    • 10 people outdoors;
    • Drive-in service, rites or ceremonies permitted, subject to certain conditions;
    • Virtual services permitted.
  • Post-secondary institutions:
    • Post-secondary institutions open for virtual instruction, with limited exceptions where in-person instruction is required (e.g., clinical training, trades). Subject to physical distancing with limited exceptions.
    • In-person teaching (each instructional space at the institution at one time) and in-person examinations cannot exceed 10 persons, with limited exemptions.
    • Subject to additional requirements for in-person teaching that involves singing or the playing of brass or wind instruments.
  • Day camps for children: Closed
  • Schools:
    • The following approach will apply to publicly-funded and private elementary and secondary learning, with the exception of First Nation and federally-operated schools:
      • Elementary and secondary school students at publicly-funded schools would participate in remote learning from January 4-January 8, 2021.
        • Publicly-funded schools and private schools in Northern public health regions would be permitted to resume in-person instruction on January 11, 2021 for both elementary and secondary schools
        • For publicly-funded schools and private schools in all other PHU regions:
          • Elementary school students would return to in person learning on January 11, 2021
          • Secondary school students would continue learning remotely until January 25, 2021 and resume in-person learning on that date
      • During the applicable period, schools will be closed, except for the following exceptions:
        • For staff who are unable to deliver quality remote teaching, instruction or support to students from home
        • To provide access for child care centers in schools
    • Child Care: Child care will remain open for the duration of the Province-wide Shutdown period. This includes child care offered in licensed centres, in home-based settings (licensed and unlicensed) and by authorized recreation and skill-building providers
      • During the period where elementary schools are operating virtually (i.e., from January 4 to 8, inclusive), licensed child care centres and authorized recreation and skill-building providers will be prohibited from serving school-aged children. All before and after school programs are being closed during this one-week period. These programs may resume operation when elementary schools return to in-person learning on January 11, 2021
      • To support the parents of school-aged children who may not be able to accommodate their child’s learning/care at home, the Ministry of Education will be implementing a targeted emergency child care program for school-aged children, at no cost to eligible parents. Please refer to Appendix B for a list of eligible workers
      • Operators of before and after school programs that are required to close from January 4-8, 2021 are prohibited from charging fees or otherwise penalizing parents during this time period (e.g., parents must not lose their respective child care spaces)

Schools in the following public health unit regions will be permitted to resume in-person learning as of January 11, 2021:

  • The District of Algoma Health Unit
  • North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit
  • Northwestern Health Unit
  • Porcupine Health Unit
  • Sudbury and District Health Unit
  • Thunder Bay District Health Unit
  • Timiskaming Health Unit

In all other public health unit regions, elementary schools are planned to resume in-person learning as of January 11, 2021, while secondary schools are planned to resume in-person learning as of January 25, 2021.

New Ontario Small Business Support Grant

The Government has announced a one-time Ontario Small Business Support Grant to provide a minimum of $10,000 up to $20,000 to eligible small business owners.

Eligible businesses are considered those which:

  • Are required to close or significantly restrict services subject to the provincial lockdown effective 12:01 a.m. on December 26, 2020;
  • Have less than 100 employees at the enterprise level; and
  • Have experienced a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019.

Essential businesses permitted to remain open throughout the duration of the provincial lockdown will therefore not be eligible.

In light of this provincial lockdown, employers should identify how these measures will restrict their operations, and plan accordingly. Employers should also review the eligibility criteria for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant to determine whether they may qualify. 

A detailed overview of the provincial lockdown measures provided by the Ontario Government can be found here.

If you have any questions about these new measures please contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer, or refer to the Firm’s COVID-19 website resources.

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