February 9, 2021by Israel Foulon LLP
On February 8, 2021, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Premier Doug Ford announced the extension of the Stay-At-Home order for Toronto, Peel and York Regions. The order will likely be extended until February 22, 2021, subject to review of public health indicators, including transmission rates.
Extension of Ontario’s COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Order: Toronto, Peel and York Regions
As of February 10, 2021, the province will gradually transition each region from the shutdown measures to a revised and strengthened COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open (the “Framework”). Regions other then Toronto, Peel and York will be subject to individual region-specific Stay-at-Home orders until at least February 16, 2021 (with the exception of those permitted to re-open on February 10, 2021 – see below).
Regional Specific Reopening Approach
As of 12:01 a.m. on February 10, 2021, the province will lift the Stay-at-Home order and the following public health units will be permitted to re-open at the Green-Prevent level:
- Hastings Prince Edward Public Health;
- Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health; and
- Renfrew County and District Health Unit.
The Updated Framework
The Framework provides individual public health units with added guidance and gradual restrictions designed to avoid broader closures. The Framework places public health units into five categories:
Businesses can review the targeted public health measures for each classification by clicking the categories above.
Each level provides targeted public health measures that gradually tighten restrictions on social gatherings and select businesses to prevent the spread of the COVID-19. The Province will begin transitioning public health regions into the updated Framework as public health indicators permit.
Changes for Retail Businesses
The Framework includes updated requirements for retail businesses in all five categories, and introduces stricter retail shopping guidelines. Retail businesses are subject to gradually restricting capacity limits based on their classification in the Framework. In the Grey-Lockdown zone, retail businesses are permitted to open, subject to a capacity limit of 50% (for supermarkets and other stores that sell groceries) or 25% (for all other retail including big box, liquor stores, hardware stores and garden centres). Individuals must wear face coverings and abide by physical distancing when indoors, subject to limited exceptions.
In addition, all retail businesses must have passive screening for patrons (for example, posting signs outside the store front about not entering if you have COVID-19 symptoms).
Social Gatherings and Public Events
For organized public events or gatherings (either indoor or outdoor) in all five zones, individuals must wear masks when they are not able to keep a 2-metre distance from someone who is not a member of their household.
We recommend that business owners review the relevant portions of the Framework and the restrictions affecting their local public health unit HERE.
Emergency Brake System
In the event of a rapid acceleration of COVID-19 cases, the province has introduced an emergency brake system to permit immediate action from the province. The Chief Medial Officer of health, along with the local medical officer of health, can advise that a region move immediately to the Grey-Lockdown zone.
Other Important Dates
As of February 9, 2021, Ontario’s declaration of emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (the “Act”) has ended. However, orders under the Act have been extended until February 23, 2021 and may be extended if necessary.
To review the news release from the Office of the Premier, please click HERE.
Take Away for Employers
Employers must continue to allow employees to work from home when possible to comply with the Stay-at-Home order and Framework. Employers should remind all employees to continue to stay at home as much as possible, avoid gatherings / close contact with those outside of their households, and avoid non-essential travel.
Employers should review their workplace policies and procedures to ensure they are operating or re-opening in accordance with the Framework.
We recommend that you seek legal advice if you have concerns about how to safely reopen your business or the applicability of specific public health restrictions.
Israel Foulon Wong’s Response to COVID-19 Israel Foulon Wong 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.