Earlier today, the Province announced a new three phase framework for reopening the economy and easing public health measures.
Each phase of the framework will last at least twenty-one days, in order to provide the Ontario Government and health officials with enough time to assess whether it is safe to move to the next stage. Outside of this minimum threshold, the start date of each phase will depend on the percentage of Ontario adults who have received at least one dose of their COVID-19 vaccine.
Though the reopening framework will not formally begin until early or mid-June, the Province did announce that certain public health restrictions will be lifted as early as this weekend.
Beginning on Saturday, May 22, the Province will allow outdoor gatherings of up to five individuals from different households. Golf courses, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, and soccer fields will also be permitted to reopen with certain restrictions still in place, such as physical distancing and the wearing of masks.
Phase One can begin when at least 60% of Ontario’s adult population has received at least one dose of their COVID-19 vaccine, along with other key public health and health system indicators being met.
The Province has announced the week of June 14, 2021 as the approximate date on which Ontario will enter Phase One of the reopening framework. However, the Province also noted that as of today, 58% of adults in Ontario have received at least one dose of their COVID-19 vaccine. That number is projected to climb to 65% before the end of May. As a result, the Province acknowledged the possibility of Phase One beginning at an earlier date in June, but maintained that for the time being, the June 14 target would remain in place unless otherwise stated.
Phase One will focus on resuming outdoor activities will small crowds, and will also allow for some limited indoor activities. Specifically, Phase One will include, but is not limited to:
- Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 individuals;
- Outdoor dining with up to 4 people per table;
- Reopening of non-essential retail businesses at 15% capacity; and
- Subject to physical distancing measures, the reopening of a number of additional outdoor amenities, including:
- Outdoor pools;
- Splash pads;
- Outdoor religious services;
- Day camps; and
- Recreational campgrounds.
Phase Two can begin when 70% of Ontario’s adult population has received at least one dose of their COVID-19 vaccine, and 20% of Ontario’s adults have received two doses, along with other key public health and health system indicators being met.
Phase Two will focus on a further expansion of outdoor activities, as well as a further reopening of indoor amenities, with mask and physical distancing requirements in place. Phase Two will include, but is not limited to:
- Outdoor gatherings of up to 25 individuals;
- Outdoor sports leagues;
- Non-essential retail businesses at 25% capacity; and
- The reopening of certain public amenities, such as libraries.
Phase Three can begin no sooner than two weeks after the date on which 70% to 80% of Ontario’s adult population have received at least one dose of their COVID-19 vaccine, and 25% of Ontario’s adults have received two doses, along with other key public health and health system indicators being met.
The final phase of the Province’s reopening plan will primarily focus on easing indoor activity restrictions. Phase Three will include the reopening of several indoor amenities, such as:
- Performing arts centres;
- Indoor dining; and
Premier Ford declined to provide details on which Phase, if any, would allow for the reopening of schools across the Province.
Takeaways for Employers
Employers who plan on allowing employees back into the workplace in the coming weeks and months should remain aware that until the Province indicates otherwise, public health measures such as physical distancing and the wearing of masks will remain in place, regardless of which Phase of the reopening framework Ontario is in.
This blog is provided as an information service and summary of workplace legal issues.
This information is not intended as legal advice.