THE EMPLOYERS' EDGE
COVID-19 Update: Introduction of New Restrictions Affecting Ontario Employers
As a follow-up to the recent introduction of mandatory screening procedures required by Ontario employers (which can be reviewed in our recent blog), on Friday, October, 2, 2020, the Government of Ontario made a series of fresh amendments to Regulation 364/20, which outlines the requirements for Stage 3 re-openings across the province.
Mandatory Face Coverings
The first amendment now requires Ontario businesses to mandate that “any person in the indoor area of the premises of the business … wears a mask or face covering in a manner that covers their mouth, nose and chin.”
The Regulation does however, outline specific groups of individuals who are exempt from this new requirement including, but not limited to:
- children under the age of two;
- individuals with a medical condition inhibiting their ability to wear a face covering;
- individuals being accommodated in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005; and
- individuals who are being reasonably accommodated in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code.
Further, while the Regulation applies to all businesses operating in an indoor setting (including workplace vehicles), there is an exemption for spaces in the business which are not accessible to the public, so long as a physical distance of at least two (2) metres is maintained from every other person.
Employers will be required to enforce this new requirement and outside of the above-mentioned exemptions, it will be reasonable to expect employees to comply (check out our recent blog for further discussion regarding managing employee mask-related refusals). That being said, it is important to note that the Regulation explicitly provides that no person will be required to provide proof of an exemption in the event of a refusal. Accordingly, employers are advised to tread lightly in handling requests for mask exemptions and should consider consulting the CCP team for expert legal advice on workplace obligations/liabilities as we continue to navigate through this pandemic.
Stricter Capacity Limits in Certain Regions
The second amendment only pertains to three COVID-19 hotspots: Toronto, Peel and Ottawa, which have been identified as requiring an “enhanced measures zone.”
The new capacity restrictions affecting these regions include:
- restaurants, bars and nightclubs in Ottawa and Peel Region must limit capacity to 100 people (Toronto Public Health has independently decided to limit capacity to 75), with no more than six (6) people per table and each customer’s contact information must be collected for contact tracing;
- gyms and fitness centres must limit its capacity to fifty (50) people and group exercise classes will be limited to ten (10) people; and
- banquet halls and event centres must limits its capacity to fifty (50) people, with no more than six (6) people per table.
The team at CCPartners will continue to update our readers and listeners on all other pertinent developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic through our Employers’ Edge Blog and Lawyers for Employers Podcast series.