I have important news to share about COVID-19 and new rules that impact open houses in Ontario.
New Ontario COVID-19 Reopening Framework
Earlier this week, the Government of Ontario announced its Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework. The framework categorizes public health unit regions into five levels: Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Lockdown being a measure of last and urgent resort. Each level outlines the types of public health and workplace safety measures for businesses and organizations. These include targeted measures for specific sectors, institutions and other settings.
The decision to move a region into a particular stage and apply the associated public health measures will consider a range of indicators, including the weekly case incidence rate, the percentage of tests coming back positive, movement or lack of in the level of community transmission, outbreak activity, and hospital and public health capacity. Read the framework for more information.
Public Health Unit Region Classifications
As of November 7, 2020, the province will transition all public health unit regions to the new framework except Toronto.
The Toronto public health region will transition on November 14th, 2020. The following proposed classifications for public health unit regions are based on data for the week of October 26, 2020:
- No public health unit regions
- Peel Public Health;
- Eastern Ontario Health Unit;
- Ottawa Public Health;
- Toronto Public Health (may be delayed in entering Orange-Restrict level until November 14, 2020); and
- York Region Public Health.
- Brant County Health Unit;
- City of Hamilton Public Health Services;
- Durham Region Health Department; and
- Halton Region Public Health.
- Algoma Public Health;
- Chatham-Kent Public Health;
- Grey Bruce Health Unit;
- Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health;
- Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit;
- Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit;
- Hastings Prince Edward Public Health;
- Huron Perth Public Health; Lambton Public Health;
- Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit;
- Middlesex-London Health Unit;
- Niagara Region Public Health;
- North Bay Parry Sound District;
- Northwestern Health Unit; Peterborough Public Health;
- Porcupine Health Unit; Public Health Sudbury & Districts;
- Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services;
- Renfrew County and District Health Unit;
- Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit;
- Southwestern Public Health;
- Thunder Bay District Health Unit;
- Timiskaming Health Unit;
- Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health; and
- Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.
What is the Impact on Open Houses?
The Government has clarified that open houses are permitted effective Saturday, November 7th, 2020 (November 14th in Toronto) in regions in levels Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect and Orange-Restrict.
If you are trading in regions listed under those three levels, open houses are legally permitted by the Province provided they follow all precautions suggested by public health officials.
When regions enter levels Red-Control, and Lockdown, open houses will not be permitted. Under level Red-Control, the Province has indicated that scheduled in-person showings are allowed provided they follow all health and safety guidelines.
This new framework removes restrictions on open houses that were put in place in October in Toronto, York Region and Ottawa. Open houses are now, under the current public health unit region classifications, permitted in those regions.
Peel Region, however, was put into stage Red-Control effective (today) midnight Friday, November 7th. Under this designation open houses in Peel Region continue to be prohibited.
OREA advises that Members contact their local public health unit to confirm information related to requirements under the new framework.
Also, please note, that requirements for workplace screening and for face coverings at indoor workplaces are mandated in all four levels of the Province’s framework.
For more information on workplace screening and how to do it safely visit OREA’s guidance for brokerage and real estate board offices here.
Guidance for Members on Open Houses
While open houses will be permitted in Toronto, York Region and Ottawa on Saturday, November 7th, OREA, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) and the Ottawa Real Estate Board (OREB) continue to urge Members to use virtual tools first and to the greatest extent possible. Moreover, OREA, TRREB and OREB continue to advise Members that in-person showings are okay by appointment for pre-qualified clients, following public health guidelines.
While, under normal circumstances, open houses would be an effective tool for marketing a home, there are many options available to view properties which pose less health and safety risk to Members and clients. We will continue to advise Members against hosting open houses until the pandemic is under better control in Ontario.
For guidance on conducting a safe in-person showing, visit OREA’s COVID-19 Information hub.
Thank you for showing outstanding resilience in adapting to new and ever-changing regulations around safety protocols related to open houses. Let’s continue to keep our clients and communities safe by using technological alternatives first and as much as possible.
As always, thank you and stay safe everyone!