Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced an updated reopening plan for the province on Feb. 14, 2022. Adjusted health measures will come into effect on Feb. 17, 2022, with additional reopening measures coming into effect on March 1 (if indicators continue to improve).
Beginning Feb. 17, 2022, Ontario will adjust public health measures, including:
- Increasing social gathering limits to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors;
- Increasing organized public event limits to 50 people indoors, and no limits outdoors;
- Removing capacity limits in certain indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required, including: restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments; sports and recreational fitness facilities and gyms; cinemas; meeting and event spaces; casinos and other gaming establishments and; indoor areas of settings that choose to opt-in to proof of vaccination requirements;
- Allowing 50% of the usual seating capacity at sports arenas, concert venues, and theatres;
- Increasing indoor capacity limits to 25% in higher-risk settings including nightclubs, restaurants with dancing, bathhouses and sex clubs; and
- Increasing capacity limits for indoor weddings, funerals or religious services, rites, or ceremonies to the number of people who can maintain two metres physical distance. Capacity limits are removed if the location uses proof of vaccination requirements or if the service, rite, or ceremony is occurring outdoors.
According to the Government of Ontario, if health and health system indicators continue to improve, the following measures will come into effect on March 1, 2022:
- All capacity limits in indoor public settings will be lifted; and
- Proof of vaccination requirements will be lifted for all settings.
Businesses and other settings may choose to continue to require proof of vaccination after March 1, 2022. Businesses will be able to continue using existing procedures for verifying proof of vaccination.
Masking requirements will remain in place for the time being. The Government of Ontario will provide a timeline to lift mask requirements at a later date.
After March 1, 2022, public health units will be able to deploy local and regional responses as required based on local health indicators. As always, reopening plans remain subject to change based on evolving epidemiological conditions.
Despite changes to public health measures in Ontario, employers in the province are reminded of COVID-19 compliance considerations, including continuing to:
- Operate their business in compliance with applicable laws, including the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020;
- Operate their business in compliance with the advice, recommendations, and instructions issued by public health officials;
- Operate their business in compliance with COVID-19 screening requirements and applicable capacity limits;
- Ensure compliance with mandatory mask or face covering rules;
- Enforce physical distancing;
- Enforce proof of vaccination requirements (where required to do so) until measures change (as anticipated on March 1, 2022). Where proof of vaccination is optional, business are still permitted to require proof of vaccination;
- Maintain a COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan;
- Implement best sanitation practices as appropriate and required for their sector; and
- Post signage that is relevant to the workplace to promote compliance with provincial and local requirements.
For all questions related to employer-side employment law, including advice related to COVID-19 reopening considerations for employers, the Employment, Labour & Equalities Group would be pleased to assist.