With key public health and health system indicators continuing to improve, Ontario is cautiously and gradually easing public health and workplace safety measures.
As of March 1st, the following changes to public health and workplace safety measures are in effect:
- capacity limits have been lifted in all indoor public settings
- proof of vaccination requirements have been lifted
- businesses and organizations may choose to require proof of vaccination upon entry
- businesses and organizations that are open must continue to have safety plans in place
The mask/face covering and physical distancing requirements remain in place.
Can a Board or Brokerage office continue to maintain capacity limits and proof of vaccination requirements even though they are no longer mandated by the province?
A Board or Brokerage office that wishes to continue enforcing capacity limits and proof of vaccination requirements, is permitted to do so.
Boards and brokerages must ensure they have a COVID-19 Safety Plan that outlines in writing any COVID-19 safety protocols, restrictions or requirements. The safety plan must be posted in a conspicuous space inside the Board or Brokerage office and available for any person to review upon request. If you have developed a vaccination policy that you wish to continue using, it could be incorporated into your Safety Plan. For help creating a COVID-19 Safety Plan, visit Guide to developing your COVID-19 workplace safety plan | ontario.ca.
In considering what your Safety Plan should contain, key risk factors for COVID-19 transmission include, close proximity of work, longer exposure with people who are potentially infected, crowded places, closed indoor spaces with less fresh air and forceful exhalation – exercising, singing or speaking loudly. You should consider the key risk factors and how they apply in your Board or Brokerage office and if you intend to take advantage of the relaxation of any of the requirements, update your Safety Plan to reflect those changes.
As a REALTOR®, Board or Brokerage manager/owner, what public health measures am I still required to maintain by law?
Mask/face coverings and screening requirements remain in place. With regards to open houses specifically, masking is required unless a minimum of 2 metres can be maintained between every person in the open house. Practically speaking, keeping a distance of 2 metres in an open house is difficult, therefore REALTORS® are strongly encouraged to maintain masking requirements for visitors entering an open house.
Similarly, Board and Brokerage office owners/managers must continue to enforce the mask wearing rule in the office by staff and office visitors when a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained.
REALTORS®, Board and Brokerage office owners/managers must ensure that COVID screenings are conducted by visitors entering open houses, and staff and office visitors entering an office.
The Rules for Areas at Step 3 and at the Roadmap Exit Step, now provide simply for the screening of individuals. The screening no longer must be done “actively” (for example, by phone or online). Businesses are still required to have a safety plan and if the circumstances and risk justify elimination of active screening, the requirement to screen could be accomplished by posting adequate, clearly visible signs at all entrances to the premises of the business or organization, that require and inform individuals on how to screen themselves for COVID-19 prior to entering the premises. Visit the Government of Ontario website for COVID-19 Signage Questions for Businesses and Organizations.
In addition to these rules, a business must operate in compliance with both
- any additional advice, recommendations and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, including any advice, recommendations and instructions related to physical distancing, cleaning and disinfecting, implementing a vaccination policy, screening and sign posting
- any advice, recommendations and instructions issued by local public health official before February 25, 2022
I’m hosting an open house – with capacity limits lifted, can I let as many people into the home as possible?
According to the Government of Ontario’s new public health and workplace safety measures, REALTORS® hosting open houses are no longer required to limit the number of visitors in a home. However, OREA encourages Members to continue putting the health and safety of the public first and to do so by having a plan that limits close contact between open house visitors. Practically speaking, this can be done by setting limits on the number of visitors into an open house at one time to allow for 2 metres of physical distance between visitors. If capacity limits are not set, masking requirements should be enforced.
If a home owner would like to request proof of vaccination from visitors entering their home for an open house or in-person showing, can they do so?
Although proof of vaccination requirements have been lifted, home sellers may continue to request and require proof of COVID-19 vaccination from visitors entering their home for an open house or in-person showing.
If the home seller attempts to refuse entry to individuals with medical exceptions to their vaccination requirements, there is a risk that they may be the subject of a Human Rights Code complaint for prohibited discrimination. REALTORS(R) should work with their seller to try to find a way to manage the situation, whereby medically exempt individuals may view the home in a manner that is within a homeowner’s comfort level. This might include, requiring visitors to the home to conduct a COVID-19 rapid test, suggesting the home seller vacate the home for a period of time during which showings are taking place, and reassuring the home seller of the safety protocols and procedures put in place by the listing agent.
For more information, Members can visit the Province’s COVID-19 public health measure website. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.