January 13, 2021by Israel Foulon LLP
On January 12, 2021, the Government of Ontario announced it has declared a second provincial emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA) in response to rising COVID-19 transmission rates. The state of emergency will remain in place for at least 28 days. As a result, the provincial government has issued a stay-at-home order and imposed additional public health restrictions.
Stay-At-Home/Work from Home
Effective Thursday, January 14, 2021, at 12:01 am, the government is issuing a stay-at-home order requiring everyone to remain at home with limited exceptions such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing healthcare services, exercise, or attending work where the work cannot be done remotely. All businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home does work from home. The government has announced that it will further set out the “legal parameters” of the stay-at-home order on Wednesday, January 13, 2021.
We recommend that employers carefully review the nature of their employees’ work and require individuals to work from home wherever possible.
Additional Public Health Restrictions
Effective January 13, 2021, at 12:01 am, the following additional public health measures will take effect:
- Social Gathering Limit: All organized outdoor public gatherings and social gatherings are restricted to five people with limited exceptions.
- Mask Mandate: Individuals are required to wear a mask or face covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are permitted to open. Wearing a mask is now recommended outdoors when social distancing cannot be maintained.
- Limited Hours of Operation: All non-essential retail stores, including hardware, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup must open no earlier than 7:00 am and close no later than 8:00 pm. These restrictions do not apply to grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants open for take out and delivery.
- Non-Essential Construction: Non-essential construction must stop, including below-grade construction, exempting survey. There are varied exemptions for projects supporting municipal infrastructure, healthcare, transit, transportation, and residential construction projects.
We recommend that employers and business owners review the full list of restrictions HERE.
New Enforcement Measures
On January 12, 2021, the provincial government announced that it will empower all provincial offences officers to issue tickets to individuals who do not comply with the stay-at-home-order, or those not wearing a mask or face covering indoors in places open to the public. Those who do not abide by orders will be subject to a set fine and may face prosecution.
Additionally, all provincial offenses officers will have the authority to temporarily close a premise and disperse individuals who violate social gathering limits or public health orders.
Workplace Safety – Stay Safe All Day Campaign
As part of its “Stay Safe All Day” campaign, the Ministry of Labour announced that it would begin focusing workplace investigations on high transmission areas and providing new educational materials to employers to promote safe behaviour before, during and after work. Inspectors will apply a data-driven approach to focus investigations on specific workplaces and industries.
Schools – Return to In-Person Instruction Delayed in Select Public Health Units
In the following public health units, in-person learning may not resume until February 10, 2021:
- Peel Region
The Chief Medical Officer of Health will announce by January 20, 2021, whether in-person learning may resume in all other public health units.
You can access the Ontario Newsroom Announcement regarding the state of emergency HERE.
We recommend that you seek legal advice if you have questions about safely reopening your business, or meeting specific public health and safety requirements.
Israel Foulon’s Response to COVID-19
Israel Foulon is assessing the situation as it evolves, and is taking all necessary precautions within its workplace. To slow the spread of COVID-19 and for the health of our team and clients, absent extraordinary circumstances we are working remotely until further notice whenever possible. However, please be aware that our offices remain open and are fully functioning. In the circumstances, we encourage our clients to contact us by phone and email to the extent possible. Voicemail messages left at our office phone numbers are immediately forwarded via email. All messages will be promptly responded to. We remain steadfast in our commitment to our clients and would be more than happy to assist you with concerns regarding COVID-19 or any other employment or labour matters.