Jan 12, 2021  By John Hyde

The State of Emergency in Ontario Returns

On January 12, 2021, the Ontario government announced the return of the State of Emergency along with enhanced public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The enhanced measures are scheduled to remain in place until at least February 11, 2021.

Below, we have highlighted the most critical updates resulting from this latest announcement.

Physical distancing and face coverings mandated indoors

All employees, or anyone entering a place of business, must maintain physical distancing of at least two meters from every other person.

With limited exceptions (e.g. a health issue), all employees who are permitted to attend work must wear a face mask or covering at all times when indoors.

Businesses Permitted to Open

Businesses permitted to open are outlined in Schedule 2 of the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act.

The most significant updates pertaining to these businesses include:

  • Retailers which do not fall under the exceptions listed below, are now limited to operating hours of 7:00 am to 8:00 pm.  In-store shopping is prohibited; curb-side delivery must be pre-arranged.

    -supermarkets (and businesses that primarily sell food)
    -discount retailers
    -big-box stores that sell food

  • Stores that sell liquor, including beer, wine, and spirits are limited to operating hours of 9:00 am to 8:00 pm
  • Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, with additional enforcement to ensure compliance. A more detailed summary of essential construction can be found here (pg. 23).

Work from home mandated

Businesses must ensure that employees conduct their work remotely, with limited exceptions, for instance, where the nature of their work requires them to be on-site at the workplace.

Schools and Child Care Centres

Schools in Windsor, Toronto, Peel, York, and Hamilton remain closed until at least February 10, 2021.  Additionally, there will be mandatory masking for children in Grades 1-3, masking requirements outdoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained, and enhanced screening requirements.  

Childcare for non-school aged children remains open, with enhanced screening requirements.

The lawyers at Hyde HR Law are closely monitoring the latest developments and their impacts upon businesses.  If you have any questions regarding the latest announcements, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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