January 3, 2022by Israel Foulon LLP
On January 3, 2022, the Ontario government announced that effective January 5, 2022, it is temporarily transitioning the province to Step Two of its Roadmap to Reopen with Modifications. These additional measures are in response to rising COVID-19 transmission rates, and the further emergence of the Omicron variant. The restrictions will remain in place for at least twenty-one (21) days.
Modified Step Two Restrictions
Effective 12:01 am, Wednesday, January 5, 2022, all businesses permitted to open shall be subject to the following additional public health measures/restrictions:
- Businesses and organizations MUST ensure employees work remotely unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site.
- Reducing social gathering limits to five people indoors and 10 people outdoors.
- Limiting capacity at organized public events to five people indoors.
- All retail settings, including shopping malls, are permitted to operate at 50 per cent capacity.
- Personal care services permitted at 50 per cent capacity and other restrictions.
- Closing indoor dining at restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments. Outdoor dining with restrictions, takeout, drive through and delivery is permitted.
- Restricting the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. and the consumption of alcohol on-premise in businesses or settings after 11 p.m. with delivery and takeout, grocery/convenience stores and other liquor stores exempted.
- Closing indoor sport and recreational fitness facilities including gyms.
- All publicly funded and private schools will move to remote learning starting January 5 until at least January 17, subject to public health trends and operational considerations.
To review the full list of public health measures, CLICK HERE.
Take Away for Employers
Employers who have gradually returned employees to the physical workplace since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic should reassess their current in-office policies considering these new public health measures and make every effort to allow employees to work from home whenever possible.
Under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers must take all reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of workers. If working from home is not possible, employers are encouraged to perform an updated risk assessment of the workplace and consider implementing additional safety measures with respect to employees attending the workplace, especially during and after the holidays. Such additional safety measures may include, for example, increased rapid testing, enhanced personal protective equipment measures, encouraging booster shots, or taking in-person meetings back online.
We recommend that you seek legal advice and assistance when assessing your workforce’s in-office presence in light of ongoing developments with the Omicron variant.
Israel Foulon Wong’s Response to COVID-19 Israel Foulon Wong LLP 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.