What did the provincial government recently announce?
The Government of Ontario announced that effective 12:01 am on Friday, July 16, today, the province will move to Stage 3 of the re-opening framework. Stage 3 will see a resumption of many indoor activities.
What will stay the same in Stage 3?
Maintaining social distance and masking when indoors or distance cannot be maintained remains an important feature of Stage 3, much like earlier stages. In addition, the requirement to actively screen employees and passively screen patrons will remain in place. There are exceptions where in some instances it is necessary to actively screen patrons. Please consult the full regulation (link below) to ensure your business is in compliance.
What will change in Stage 3?
Many indoor activities will resume, including some with a large number of people. In addition, for some settings (such as retail and dining) capacity restrictions will be based on the number of people that permit for physical distancing of two metres, rather than a fixed percentage or number as was the case in earlier stages. Other settings will maintain specific capacity limits. It is best to consult the regulation (link below) to see how it impacts your business, but in general:
- Restaurants can open indoor and outdoor dining with capacity limited to permit 2 metres of distance (Note: establishments that have dancing facilities have stricter capacity limits)
- Retail can open with capacity limited to permit 2 metres of distance; malls are open based on the capacity of all stores in the mall added up
- Meeting and event spaces can open at 50% capacity indoor or 1000 people, whichever is less, and outdoor at 75% capacity or 5000 people (whichever is less)
What does this mean for my business?
Many businesses can now reopen and resume indoor activities that were closed under previous stages. There are some requirements that remain unchanged, such as the need for masking and distancing. Businesses must continue to actively screen employees and passively screen customers, though in some cases actively screening customers is necessary as well. Businesses without a set capacity limit must still post what their maximum capacity is based on physical distancing. Additionally, many settings require a separate safety plan with additional requirements.
Above all, it is important to recognize that the reopening regulations vary greatly by sector and even within sectors. Please be sure to consult the regulation to understand exactly what it means for your business.
What if I have questions?
The best way to receive accurate information is to consult the summary of the regulation and regulation text linked above. They go into detail on operating restrictions for specific businesses and circumstances, as well as how to calculate capacity.
Additional resources are available here from the provincial government, including screening tools, guides and info sheets for specific sectors and multilingual resources including posters.
The provincial government is also operating a hotline at 1-888-444-3659 that provides information from 8:30am – 5pm.