This afternoon, Premier Doug Ford announced that Ontario would be placed into a COVID-19 Province-wide Shutdown.
The Shutdown will start Boxing Day at 12:01 a.m. and be in place for all of Ontario from December 26th, 2020 to January 9th, 2021. The restrictions will remain in place for all 27 Southern Ontario public health regions from January 9th, 2021 to January 23rd, 2021.
The Shutdown has been put in place to help save lives and prevent our healthcare system from being overwhelmed.
This is a serious measure being taken to protect our fellow citizens and REALTORS® have to do our part to help stop the spread of the virus.
What Does It Mean for Real Estate?
Real estate continues to be listed as an “essential service” by the Province. That means that real estate businesses and board offices can continue to operate while the Province is in Shutdown and real estate transactions can continue to close.
But let’s be clear.
It is NOT business as usual. If we are going to avoid the worst-case scenario with the spread of the pandemic everyone has to do their part.
During this Shutdown, Members should only conduct essential business and avoid face-to-face interactions with customers and clients unless it is absolutely necessary.
Instead, Members should work remotely and use technology like virtual showings, electronic signatures and virtual meetings to the greatest extent possible.
While real estate is deemed essential, there are restrictions that all Members, brokerage offices and real estate boards have to follow, including:
- Open houses are banned (including pre-construction) – in the whole province for two weeks and in Southern Ontario for four weeks. Scheduled in-person showings are permitted but should be used very sparingly and only in urgent situations. Please review OREA’s guidance on safe in-person showings for more information.
- Workplaces must screen any workers or essential visitors entering the work environment. See the COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces for more information.
- While indoors at a real estate brokerage or board office, all people MUST wear personal protective equipment that provides protection of the eyes, nose and mouth. PPE is required if a worker is required to come within 2 metres of another person who is not wearing a face covering and is not separated by a plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier. See OREA’s guidance for brokerage and board offices here.
- All brokerage and board offices must limit capacity so that every member of the public is able to maintain two metres of physical distance from every other person and limit the people occupying any room that is open to the public to 50% capacity of that room; and,
- Short-term rentals (e.g., cottages, cabins) can only to be provided to individuals who are in need of housing.
With regards to travel during the holidays, the Province has indicated that no indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household (the people you live with) are permitted. Individuals who live alone and single parents may consider having exclusive, close contact with another household to help reduce the negative impacts of social isolation.
Outside organized events and social gatherings must comply with public health advice on physical distancing and are limited to 10 people.
The Government is urging Ontarians to stay home and avoid travelling outside of their region unless it’s for essential reasons.
Visit Ontario’s COVID-19 website to learn more about how the restrictions apply to schools, business and other organizations.
New Small Business Support Grant
Ontario will offer one-time grants of a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to eligible small business owners to help navigate the shutdown through the Ontario Small Business Support Grant.
Businesses are eligible if they are:
- Required to close or significantly restrict services subject to the shutdown.
- Have less than 100 employees at the enterprise level; and
- Can be expected to experience a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline as a result of the shutdown. This will be measured by comparing April 2020 with April 2019 revenues.
Applications for funding will be launched in January. More information about the grant can be found here.
I have been so proud of the leadership you all have shown over the last nine months. Together, we have worked to keep our communities safe while offering an essential service to the people of our Province.
I know this is difficult and these measures are going to be tough for you, your family and Ontarians at large. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. A vaccine is on its way, we will beat this pandemic and life will return to normal.
Until then, thank you for your support. Stay safe and all the best to you and your family this Holiday Season.