On-Site Magazine

Ontario shuts non-essential construction as COVID-19 case counts hit record

April 16, 2021   David Kennedy
Construction
Health & Safety

The so-called third wave of COVID-19 has led to rising case counts across Ontario, though all job sites have been permitted to remain open, until now

The Ontario government is extending its stay-at-home order to a total of six weeks and tightening restrictions on individuals and businesses in response to record COVID-19 case counts.

Non-essential construction projects throughout Ontario will be forced to close April 17 at 12:01 a.m. as part of the latest order under the province’s emergency act.

“We’re losing the battle between the variants and vaccines,” Premier Doug Ford said in a press conference April 16, adding that further measures are required to stop rising COVID infections.

Along with shutting non-essential construction, big box retail stores will be forced to scale back indoor capacity to 25 per cent, outdoor gatherings will be limited to households only and outdoor recreational areas such as basketball courts will be closed. Police will also be given sweeping new power to enforce the public health orders, such as the ability to stop vehicles to ensure drivers are out only for essential purposes.

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The new restrictions come as Ontario’s science advisers pushed for a six-week stay-at-home order and a more focused vaccination strategy. Earlier in the day, Ontario reported 4,812 new cases of COVID-19, and the advisors warned infections in the province could rise to 15,000 per day if stricter measures were not put in place. Taking a more targeted approach to vaccination — to address what Ford referred to as “the inferno” — Ontario will also increase its vaccine supply to hot spot zones by 25 per cent.

Despite increasingly stringent measures enacted across the province over the past month, until now, all Ontario construction sites have been allowed to remain open.

During the Friday announcement, Monte McNaughton, minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MOL), pointed to the construction of homes, hospitals, assessment centres and long-term care as essential. He said work on shopping malls, hotels and office towers has been deemed non-essential.

Further details show a long list of exemptions.

Construction and demolition related to health care and long-term care are allowed to continue, as is work on city and provincial infrastructure; electricity-related projects; school projects; PPE, food, beverage and agricultural manufacturing or distribution projects; and internet infrastructure projects.

All residential construction, including work on affordable housing is permitted. Additionally, the province has deemed services related to residential construction as essential. Both new and ongoing renovations, as well as adjacent services, such as painting, are allowed, a MOL spokesperson confirmed. Pool construction, fence installations and other residential property upgrades are also permitted.

Construction that started prior to April 17 on new warehousing, IT and petrochemical projects can proceed, along with industrial retrofit work already underway.

Site preparation for all institutional, commercial and industrial (ICI) construction has been deemed essential as well, though not work on the latter stages of these projects, unless they meet one of the criteria above. Finally, work tied to preparing non-essential sites for temporary closure is permitted.

Certain property services not directly linked to construction, such as landscaping, maintenance and swimming pool services remain exempt under the latest orders and can continue.

 

The complete list of essential exemptions for the changes enacted at 12:01 a.m. April 17 are available here.


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87 Comments » for Ontario shuts non-essential construction as COVID-19 case counts hit record
  1. Jill says:

    Is work supporting residential construction permitted to continue, such as design centre meetings – either virtually or in person – which were permitted to continue prior to April 17th?

    • David Kennedy says:

      Yes residential construction can continue, but as with the restrictions earlier this month, any work that can be done from home must be done from home. So, if the design meetings can be held remotely, you’re required to hold them remotely.

  2. Denise says:

    I have a water damage repair that is scheduled to begin as of Monday April 19th. I have an insurance settlement and I need to tear up flooring to prevent mold growth. I would think this is essential. I could have massive property damage if work is not completed. Please help. A letter from insurance company as proof? Give that to my contractor if stopped?

    • David Kennedy says:

      This should be allowed under the residential exemption regardless, but there is a specific maintenance/repair exemption as well: “Maintenance, repair and property management services that manage and maintain the safety, security, sanitation and operation of institutional, commercial, industrial and residential properties and buildings are allowed.”

      • so our building has been renovating the apts during lockdowns since last year..jackhammering concrete making noise from 7am till 9-10 at night…how is this fair for tenants listening to all this extremely loud noise and vibrations..during what is already a stressed out situation with covid??

  3. wil says:

    What about if you need a new roof on our house?

    • David Kennedy says:

      Residential construction has been deemed essential. There is also an exemption for necessary maintenance: Maintenance, repair and property management services that manage and maintain the safety, security, sanitation and operation of institutional, commercial, industrial and residential properties and buildings are allowed.

  4. Carol Woodliffe says:

    Does industrial retrofit already underway cover residential projects (ie drywalling interior rooms) where contractors have already started working on?

  5. MIKE Neville says:

    My wife& I feel that its time for our bylaw to visit convenience stores scence the amount of people gathering in these stores in evenings are ridiculous kids as well. We called bylaw & this is still happening.

  6. Carole-Anne Taillefer says:

    Working for a renovation company.
    Do we close or not? Some planned jobs have permits, some have started, and all of them have contracts
    Thanks

    • David Kennedy says:

      Some added details included above now. It appears that yes, reno work can continue, but it is not specifically cited in the regulations. Working to confirm.

  7. Jim Crawford says:

    Can I still operate landscaping business

  8. thomas ansieta says:

    Residential Retrofit or repairs damage due to accident are allowed to continue under this new restriction April 16 , 2021.
    Please advised

    • David Kennedy says:

      It appears that yes, reno work can continue, but it is not specifically cited in the regulations. Working to confirm.

  9. Alexandre Mayer says:

    I own a fence company. Will our fence Installations be affected by the new lock down. Is fencing, roofing and landscaping considered essential? We work in small teams outside away from the customer with no contact with others.

    • David Kennedy says:

      Landscaping is specifically cited as essential. Neither fencing nor roofing are, though if it is fence/roof construction for a project on the essential list, such as residential, it should be allowed to continue. There is also a specific maintenance exemption that could apply to roofing: Maintenance, repair and property management services that manage and maintain the safety, security, sanitation and operation of institutional, commercial, industrial and residential properties and buildings are allowed.

  10. Jim MacMillan says:

    With the restrictions of April 16 Is it clear yet whether it will be possible for contractors to build decks? Thank you.

    • David Kennedy says:

      It is not specifically referred to in the regulations, but both landscaping and residential construction are allowed to continue. It should fall under one or both of those areas.

  11. Patrick says:

    How is landscaping essential? I can understand that structural projects are essential, but cosmetic ones? How does planting flowers or laying interlocking sidewalks qualify as essential?

  12. Ian says:

    Is building a new pool at a residence allowed?

    • Brian says:

      The way it’s written, while vague, seems to say everything related to residential construction would be allowed. At best, it’s incredibly poorly written.

  13. Gurdeep says:

    Is the residential home basement ie drywall work is essential allowed or not?

  14. Tina says:

    My husband is a residential painter and usually works in existing houses as opposed to new construction. Is he still able to work?

    • David Kennedy says:

      Update included above now, but yes. The MOL confirmed all residential renovations can proceed, as well as related services.

  15. Mario says:

    Is installing doors and windows permitted

    • David Kennedy says:

      Update included above now, but yes. The MOL confirmed all residential renovations can proceed, as well as all related services.

  16. Marc B. says:

    I have a paint contracting business. We have some interior painting projects and exterior painting projects coming-up, all for residential. They are all new projects, not started yet. I know it says “residential construction activities” is allowed, but I have talked to other contractors doing renovations, and no one is 100% sure if renovations for new projects is allowed. Please advise asap when confirmed, much appreciated!

    • David Kennedy says:

      Update included above now, but yes. The MOL confirmed all residential renovations can proceed and new reno work can begin.

  17. Dalton Duckett says:

    my fence pool enclosure came with with storm end of last fall. Had contractor scheduled for Monday he concerned about getting fined and is this not essential do to public safety.

  18. I own a renovation company. I have two homes that I am building can I continue or do I have to shut down?

    • David Kennedy says:

      Update included above now, but yes. The MOL confirmed all residential renovations can proceed, as well as all related services.

  19. Jackie Palmer says:

    Thank I for your clarification. I’ve been looking for something like this for days. Much appreciated

  20. jenn says:

    people whom do contructon on hwy is that still allowed?

  21. Dan says:

    Can site work for a future restaurant continue if it has started ?

    • David Kennedy says:

      I would follow up with the ministry for certainty. Distributing food is on the essential list, but typically you would look at food distributors as restaurant suppliers as opposed to the restaurants themselves.

  22. Mitchel says:

    Is fence and deck construction deemed essential? as the info has been hit and miss.

  23. Karen says:

    Can David Kennedy please comment whether residential pool construction is permitted?
    Thanks

  24. Ivan says:

    Is maintenance surrounding the opening of a swimming pool allowed?

  25. Fred Gorrell says:

    We started home renovations in February and need to have stairs and hard wood floors completed as part of renovation. Is this still permitted? Will be one contractor in the house, using masks and social distancing.

    • David Kennedy says:

      Update included above now, but yes. The MOL confirmed all residential renovations can proceed, as well as all related services.

  26. Sean says:

    I am currently working at the Bridgewater Hotel in downtown Burlington. They are saying it is essential because it connects to a Condominium building. I would totally agree if people where waiting to live in there condos until the Hotel is completed but they already have occupancy and people living in them.
    So essentially we are just building a hotel.

  27. Mike Piria says:

    Working for service (adjustments and repair) on cabinets installation at new occupied building is consider essential ?

    • David Kennedy says:

      Update included above now, but yes. The MOL confirmed all residential renovations can proceed, as well as all related services. If the building is not residential, check above for what segments are allowed.

  28. Ivan says:

    How about pool maintenance and openings?

  29. Sabrina says:

    I have a building permit for a cannabis retail store that has begun construction. Are we allowed to continue ?

    • David Kennedy says:

      In short, I’m not certain. It’s one I would check with the province on. There are exemptions for food/beverage/ag product distribution, as well as health care exemptions. There could be a case for either, but I would not say cannabis retail falls neatly in either of those categories.

  30. Nichole says:

    Where did the MOL confirm that residential renovations are allowed to proceed?

    • David Kennedy says:

      Direct responses to questions I’d asked.

      A ministry spokesperson said renovations are allowed to continue, new renovations can begin and related services, such as painting, are allowed.

  31. Melvin says:

    me and my team provide restoration services after water damage. We have to do drywall, stucco and flooring restoration work. Is this allowed? Some of the work was started before the 17th and some of it is scheduled to start this week.

    Thank you

    • David Kennedy says:

      If it’s residential, yes, as all residential work is allowed. If it’s not, it still likely falls under the maintenance exemption: Maintenance, repair and property management services that manage and maintain the safety, security, sanitation and operation of institutional, commercial, industrial and residential properties and buildings are allowed.”

  32. Ken Richard says:

    On April 16th, before this present lockdown, I poured a pad for an outdoor shed which a friend of mine are going to finish constructing. My question is can we continue finishing the shed?

    Thank You

    • David Kennedy says:

      I didn’t have a specific query in with the MOL on this topic, but they have confirmed residential pool and fence construction can continue, along with landscaping. Like those, this sort of property upgrade should fall under the broad residential construction exemption.

  33. Man says:

    Im working in construction company as a administrator, should I stay at home to work but owner not allowed and said cannot work remotely. He only let some people stay at home. Can he do this? and I feel I am forced to stay in office.

    • David Kennedy says:

      The government was quite clear in its latest announcement. All employees who can work from home must do so under the latest restrictions.

  34. Yahya says:

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    Is restoration work due to fire allowed in these new covid restrictions?

    Thanks

    • David Kennedy says:

      It would likely fall under the maintenance exemption: “Maintenance, repair and property management services that manage and maintain the safety, security, sanitation and operation of institutional, commercial, industrial and residential properties and buildings are allowed.”

  35. Guy says:

    Are swimming pool installations categorized under landscaping and deemed essential? Permit was issued before lockdown and work is scheduled to begin within the next week.

  36. Kathleen Ientile says:

    Hi I have a construction company that does masonry work. ie. Parging, Chimney repair, tuckpointing and so forth. Is this allowed under the new restrictions?

  37. Mark says:

    Hi. I bought land up in Haliburton and have started to tear down the old cottage as it’s not safe and will rebuild eventually. Am I able to keep going to this property – as it’s my second home (cottage) and is there a time restriction on how long I can or can’t stay?

    • David Kennedy says:

      This is really outside our wheelhouse. If you’re working on the cottage yourself, that’s not an issue. Travelling there is another matter. This is how the exemption in the regulation reads: Travelling to another residence of the individual if,
      i. the individual intends to be at the residence for less than 24 hours and is attending for one of the purposes set out in this Order, or
      ii. the individual intends to reside at the residence for at least 14 days.

  38. Amanda says:

    Hi David – thank you for you comments and replying to so many concerns/questions from people!
    Just wondering aloud why the MOL/Ontario hasn’t provided more clarity on what’s included in “residential construction activities or projects and related services”. Until then I will consider my deck/fence project a related service

  39. Harman says:

    Hi, I live in Toronto. I want to ask if adding a new floor to a residential property allowed during the current lockdown restrictions

  40. vicki z says:

    Can Brick layer (masonry)still work?like install Brick or stone to a residential house?

  41. Sara says:

    Hi David is landscape curbing considered essentials or not?

    • David Kennedy says:

      Yes. Landscaping is specifically cited on the essential list. As you can imagine, curbing does not come up, but it should fall under landscaping. Comparable residential work is also allowed, like pool installations and fencing.

  42. Jeff Brown says:

    Hi David,
    We were scheduled for a residential fence installation to start on April 19th. The contractor is being very cautious (understandably) and is waiting for restrictions to be lifted or clairification. From reading your responses I believe that the fence contract can proceedwith any residential work. Is this true?

    • David Kennedy says:

      Yes. I asked specifically about residential fence installations. The MOL said they are allowed.

      • Jeff Brown says:

        How does the contractor find out for real? Don’t want anybody to feel that they are”bending the rules”

  43. Jamie says:

    So is painting 100 % inside and outside still ok

  44. Mag Briones says:

    Hi David, is residential swimming pool excavation and construction deemed essential? Thanks.

    • David Kennedy says:

      The latest is here. Work on pools can continue, but I would suggest following up with the province on starting a new pool. There have been some mixed messages on ongoing vs. new work.

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