The Government of Ontario has again released an update on its COVID-19 public health measures and advice. As many of our readers know, given the recent changes in the public health situation, new measures have been implemented and are in effect from January 5 until January 27, 2022. Read on to find out how these new rules, in addition to the temporary closure of schools and mandatory remote learning until January 17, 2022, will impact employers.
What Changes are in Place for Businesses?
- Workers must work from home.
- Unless the type of work conducted requires workers to be physically present at a workplace site, employers must ensure that all work is conducted remotely.
- Indoor service for food or drink establishments (including restaurants, bars and nightclubs) is closed.
- Take out and delivery is allowed.
- Outdoor areas are also open, so long as there are no more than 10 people per table, establishments follow the limited hours for serving and consuming liquor (alcohol sales must end at 10 p.m. and on-premise consumption of alcohol cannot occur after 11 p.m.), and there is no dancing or singing in these areas.
- Retail settings must restrict capacity to 50%.
- Indoor meeting and events spaces (including convention and conference centres) are closed.
- Exceptions to this rule include venues for child care, court and government services, social services, health services, collective bargaining and mental health/addiction services, which must limit capacity to 10 people (capacity for in-person exams for limited fields/occupations is limited to 50 people).
- Indoor sporting facilities are closed.
- Exceptions to this rule include athletes training for the Olympics/Paralympics. Outdoor facilities are limited to 50% capacity, amongst other restrictions and requirements.
- Indoor recreational amenities are closed; outdoor recreational amenities remain open.
- Indoor concert venues, theatres, galleries, zoos, waterparks, amusement parks, rural exhibitions, and similar venues are closed.
- Such venues, if outdoor, can remain open with restrictions (e.g., wearing a mask while on rides and 50% capacity for spectators at seated events).
- Personal care services must restrict capacity to 50%.
- Personal care service providers must not provide services where face coverings need to be removed.
- Indoor social gatherings are to be restricted to a maximum of 5 people; outdoor social gatherings a maximum of 10 people.
More information about new measures can be found in the O. Reg. 263/20: Rules for Areas in Step 2.
How will this Impact Employers?
Employers should expect (if they have not already experienced) an increase in childcare-related accommodation requests from workers and be prepared to provide proper and appropriate accommodations in the circumstances.
Not long ago, some employers began to return workers to the office; employers must now mandate that workers work remotely unless the nature of their jobs requires otherwise.
The increasing case count will mean that workers will be requesting accommodations for COVID-19 related reasons; employers must ensure that options such as allowing workers to take infectious disease emergency leaves are considered in making such accommodations.
If you need help navigating the changes enacted by the Ontario government, please get in touch for a consultation.