1 (833) 247-3652

Ontario Restrictions Update: Here’s All You Need to Know

https://peninsulacanada.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/workplace-health-and-safety.jpg

*This blog was updated on April 5, 2022.

It’s time to get your business back on track.

With key public health and health care indicators showing improvement, Ontario lifted its proof of vaccination requirements for all settings on March 1, 2022. The province started easing COVID-19 public health measures in a phased manner from January 31, 2022.

The following changes to public health and workplace safety measures are in effect in Ontario as of March 1, 2022:

  • Capacity limits have been removed in all indoor public settings
  • Proof of vaccination requirements have been lifted (Businesses and organizations can choose to ask for proof of vaccination upon entry)
  • Measures such as masking and passive screening of patrons to continue

On March 21, 2022, masking requirements were removed in most settings in Ontario. Businesses are no longer  required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place.

You can find some frequently asked questions that employers may have about changes to public health measures below:

Can I recall my staff to work?

Yes. Businesses in Ontario have been free to recall their remote staff back to the physical office since January 27, 2022. This was when the province filed Regulation 25/22. This effectively amended Ontario Regulation 364/20, Rules for Areas at Step 3 and at the Roadmap Exit Step (the Regulation).

The Regulation left out the explicit language requiring employers to allow their staff to work from home, giving businesses the freedom to utilize their office space once again.

What is the latest guidance on face masks?

On March 21, 2022, masking requirements were removed in most settings in Ontario (with the exception of public transit, long-term care and retirement homes, healthcare and congregate care settings, shelters and jails, which are set to lift masking requirements on April 27, 2022).

This means that employers in the province can allow their staff members to stop wearing masks while on the job as they see fit. As with the vaccination policies, employers can still choose to have their staff wear masks at all times while at work, only while interacting with patrons, or any other compromise they wish. Employers can even continue to require customers to wear their face coverings while on the business premises.

What other restrictions are being lifted?

On March 14, 2022, mandatory vaccination policies for employees working in long-term care homes, schools, hospitals, and other high-risk settings expired. This means being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is no longer a condition of employment in these sectors.

It is worth noting that private businesses do not have to follow this guideline; these companies may choose to continue implementing their vaccination policies for their staff or stop imposing them at any time.

Does this mean I can do away with all health and safety measures?

Despite which province a business operates in, employers should continue to implement COVID-19 precautionary measures such as physical distancing and hand hygiene. Private businesses in all jurisdictions have the right to choose if they want to:

  • Require employees to wear masks at work
  • Require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in accordance with a COVID-19 vaccine policy
  • Require employees to participate in COVID-19 testing at the workplace
  • Require employees to undergo passive and/or active screening before entering the workplace

So long as the requirement is reasonable in the circumstances.

It is important to remember that while many COVID-19 restrictions are now lifted, employers continue to have a duty under health and safety legislation to provide a safe workplace for all staff. For some employers, this may mean getting staff back to the office while keeping certain measures in place, while for others it may mean allowing staff to continue to work remotely until it is clear that public health restrictions and work-from-home mandates will not be reinstated.

Do you need help reopening your business in compliance with provincial law?

As a trusted HR and health & safety consulting company, Peninsula serves over 4,500 small businesses across Canada. Peninsula’s clients receive ongoing updates of their workplace documentation and policies as legislation changes. They also benefit from 24/7 employer HR advice and are supported by legal assistance.

To learn more about our services, call us today at (1) 833-247-3652.