Release date: July 6, 2020
COVID-19 Stage 2 Re-Opening
On June 17th, Toronto joined all other areas of the province (except Windsor-Essex) in entering Stage 2 of the Ontario government’s re-opening plan. The Province’s current State of Emergency is currently in effect until July 15th. So, what exactly does this mean for condominiums? We have listed those with the most impact on condominiums:
- Personal care services (with the proper health and safety measures in place, including hair and beauty salons)
- Certain water recreational facilities, including swimming pools
- Outdoor-only recreational facilities and training for outdoor team sports, with limits to enable physical distancing (as of June 27th, all indoor sport and recreational facilities were also set to re-open for non-contact sports, so long as public health guidelines are followed)
- Limits on social gatherings of up to 10 people
With respect to swimming pools, they may only re-open if the swimmers have no access to “high-contact aquatic features”, including slides and climbing structures. Thus, if the condominium pool has an accessible slide, the pool must remain closed. Whether the condominium re-opens the pool otherwise is a decision for the Board, given its particular community.
If it decides to re-open a pool, it must of course ensure physical distancing between users, which may include reducing resting areas and pool capacity, limiting pool-side seating and/or restricting pool access. Pool change rooms and showers may re-open, but only if the condominium can adequately sanitize and disinfect the facilities. As well, the condominium must ensure compliance with local public health authorities. In Durham, for example, they require a log for every swimmer and staff member who was at the pool for contact tracing purposes. In effect, this means that mere “reservation bookings” through a Concierge would not be acceptable, as the Corporation would not know who attended the pool (they could book for 2 people and have 5 people attend). This may mean a staff person would have to be present for the duration that the pool is open.
City of Toronto resources available on water recreational facilities can be found at the following links:
The Province of Ontario also has an information line for businesses called the “Stop the Spread Business Information Line”. We would encourage condominium corporations to contact the information line with any questions specific to their communities toll-free at 1 (888) 444-3659.
Other Recreational Facilities
Many condominiums will have unique recreational facilities, and the guidelines on re-opening of same are less clear than those for swimming pools. This likely due to the fact that the operation and use of these facilities will be specific to the communities they serve. The City of Toronto has provided a four-step risk assessment and mitigation guide to assist: https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/8e9c-4-Step-Risk-Assessment-Planning-Guide-for-Community-NonProfits.pdf.
The guide provides specific links to information for commercial and residential buildings and provides education on the types of factors that should be considered. We hope our members find this helpful as they assess risk in their communities and begin to re-open.
Use of Masks in the GTA
Several municipalities within the GTA have passed by-laws making masks mandatory in indoor public spaces. The City of Toronto’s by-law will come into effect on July 7th. While condominiums are not specifically mentioned within the by-law, there are many areas applicable in the condominium setting:
- Indoor recreational facilities, gyms, swimming pools
- Open houses and presentation centres for real estate purposes
- Common areas in hotels, motels, and short-term rentals (e.g. lobbies, elevators, meeting rooms)
- Entertainment facilities including concert venues, theaters, cinemas, casinos
While the by-law does not give a condominium corporation specific authority to require masks in all common areas, it is certainly worth consideration as it relates to re-opening of building amenities.
Toronto Public Health has published guidance for developing policies surrounding the use of masks for organizations: https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/9836-COVID-19-Guidance-on-face-mask-and-covering-bylaw.pdf. Posters are also available for download/printing: https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-how-you-can-help/covid-19-spread-the-word/?accordion=face-masks-coverings.
Restrictions on Gatherings
Previously, there was a restriction on gatherings of more than 5 people. A maximum of 10 people is now permitted. This clearly has implications on Board meetings, which may now take place in person, subject to physical distancing guidelines. However, the government continues to discourage non-essential in-person gatherings of any size. As such, condominium Boards should carefully consider whether to move from virtual to in-person meetings.