Ontario Implements Additional Public Health Measures Including Mandatory Face Coverings

In response to the surge in new COVID-19 cases, Ontario is taking measures to prevent and stop the spread of COVID-19. Although these new measures came into effect on Saturday, October 2, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., the amended Regulation formally establishing the changes was just made available today and can be found here.

Across the province of Ontario, the government has mandated the use of masks or face coverings in all indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open.  This includes the requirement for people in vehicles operated as part of the business or organization to wear face coverings.

Specifically, the regulation states that any individual responsible for a business or organization that is open must ensure that any person in the indoor area of the premises wears a mask or face covering. This includes individuals operating vehicles as part of the business or organization. Masks or face coverings must be worn in a manner that covers an individual’s mouth, nose and chin.

The following are exempt from the requirement of wearing a mask or face covering:

  • Those performing work for the business or organization, in an area that is not accessible to members of the public and who are able to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person while in the indoor area;
  • Children younger than two years of age;
  • Schools or private schools within the meaning of the Education Act, that are operated in accordance with a return to school direction issued by the Ministry of Education and approved by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health;
  • Child Care program at a place that is in compliance with the child care re-opening guidance issued by the Ministry of Education;
  • Those receiving residential services and supports in a residence listed in the definition of “residential services and supports” in subsection 4(2) of the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008;
  • Individuals in a correctional institution or custody and detention program for young persons in conflict with the law;
  • Those performing or rehearsing in a film or television production or in a concert, artistic event, theatrical performance or other performance;
  • Individuals with a medical condition that inhibits their ability to wear a mask or face covering;
  • Individuals unable to put on or remove their mask or face covering without the assistance of another person;
  • Individuals who need to temporarily remove their mask or face covering while in the indoor area:
    • To receive services that require the removal of their mask or face covering,
    • To engage in an athletic or fitness activity,
    • To consume food or drink, or
    • As may be necessary for the purposes of health and safety;
  • Those being accommodated in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005; or
  • Those being accommodated in accordance with the Human Rights Code.

Additional Measures for the City of Toronto, Peel Region, and the City of Ottawa

As Ottawa, Peel and Toronto have incurred significantly higher transmission rates of the COVID-19 virus, the government is taking targeted measures in these locations. The measures include:

Restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments (including night clubs):

  • Setting an indoor capacity limit to restrict occupancy to the number of patrons who can maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other patron, to a maximum of 100 patrons;
  • Permitting no more than six patrons per table;
  • Requiring operators to ensure patrons lining up or congregating outside of their establishment maintain physical distancing; and,
  • Mandating that the name and contact information for each patron be collected.

Gyms and other fitness facilities:

  • Restricting group exercise classes to 10 individuals, and;
  • Restricting the total number of people allowed at these facilities to a maximum of 50.

Meeting and Event Facilities (including banquet halls):

  • Setting a limit on the number of people allowed to six people per table and 50 people per facility.

In addition, the government is:

  • Extending the pause on any further reopening of businesses, facilities, and organizations for an additional 28 days, unless already permitted to open under O. Reg 364/20;
  • Pausing social circles and advising that all Ontarians allow close contact only with people living in their own household and maintain two metres physical distancing from everyone else. Individuals who live alone may consider having close contact with another household; and
  • Finalizing additional guidance for seniors (70 and over) on how to minimize their risk of acquiring COVID-19, including for upcoming annual gatherings such as Thanksgiving and Remembrance Day.

If you have any questions about this matter, other COVID-19 related issues, or would like any other workplace law assistance, please contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer, or refer to the Firm’s COVID-19 website resources.

The authors gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Jessica Visser, an Articling Student in the firm’s Toronto office.

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