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A Further Update on COVID-19 – Ontario Gradually Easing Public Health Measures – January 31, 2022

January 31, 2022
by Israel Foulon LLP


On January 20, 2022, the Ontario government and Chief Medical Officer of Health announced that COVID-19 restrictions will be eased using a cautious three-phase approach, effective today, January 31, 2022. You can review the News Release outlining the details of the three-phase approach HERE.

On January 27, 2022, the government formally filed Regulation 25/22, amending the Ontario Regulation Rules for Areas in Step 3 and the Roadmap Exit Step as of January 31, 2022 (the “Step 3 Regulations”).

Most importantly, as of today, the legal requirement to work from home except where necessary has also been lifted by the province. However, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore recommends that those who are able to work from home continue to do so.

Phases of Reopening

January 31, 2022

As of 12:01am January 31, 2022:

  • Social gatherings are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
  • The following businesses are permitted to open or maintain capacity limits at 50% for indoor public settings:
    • Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments without dance facilities;
    • Retailers (including grocery stores and pharmacies)
    • Shopping malls;
    • Non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms;
    • Cinemas;
    • Meeting and event spaces;
    • Recreational amenities and amusement parks, including water parks;
    • Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos and similar attractions;
    • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments; and
    • Religious services, rites, or ceremonies.
  • Spectator areas of facilities such as sporting events, concert venues and theatres can operate at 50% seated capacity or 500 people, whichever is less.
  • Enhanced proof of vaccination will be required in existing settings.

February 21, 2022

As of 12:01am February 21, 2022:

  • Social gatherings will be limited to 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
  • Removing capacity limits in indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required, including but not limited to restaurants, indoor sports and recreational facilities, cinemas, as well as other settings that choose to opt-in to proof of vaccination requirements.
  • Permitting spectator capacity at sporting events, concert venues, and theatres at 50% capacity.
  • Limiting capacity in most remaining indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is not required to the number of people that can maintain two metres of physical distance.
  • Indoor religious services, rites or ceremonies limited to the number that can maintain two metres of physical distance, with no limit if proof of vaccination is required.
  • Increasing indoor capacity limits to 25% in the remaining higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, including nightclubs, wedding receptions in meeting or event spaces where there is dancing, as well as bathhouses and sex clubs.
  • Enhanced proof of vaccination will be required in existing settings.

March 14, 2022

As of 12:01am March 14, 2022:

  • Capacity limits will be lifted in all indoor public settings.
  • Proof of vaccination will be maintained in existing settlings in addition to other measures.
  • Capacity limits will be lifted on religious services, rites and ceremonies.
  • Social gatherings will be limited to 50 people indoors, but there will be no limit for outdoor gatherings.

Take Away for Employers

Where it can be done safely, employers may cautiously begin to recall employees to the office as they are no longer legally required to work from home. IFW has also consulted the Stop the Spread Business Information Line, and a representative confirmed that the legal requirement to work from home has been lifted, but that working from home is still recommended. 

Of note, under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers must take all reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of workers. Employers are encouraged to perform an updated risk assessment of the workplace and consider implementing additional safety measures with respect to employees returning to the workplace. Such additional safety measures may include, for example, increased rapid testing (if available), enhanced personal protective equipment measures, encouraging booster shots, taking in-person meetings back online or even further extending work from home in line with the recommendation of the Chief Medical Officer of Health (where a return to in-person work cannot be done safely).

We recommend that you seek legal advice and assistance when assessing your workforce’s in-office presence in light of the re-opening plans and recommendations of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

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, we are continuing to work remotely where 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.

Legal Disclaimer

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice, which in all circumstances must be tailored to the specific facts of any problem. You should obtain a proper legal consultation in order to determine how this article applies to your specific situation. Please feel free to contact Israel Foulon LLP to learn more at 416-640-1550.