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Ontario to lock down Dec. 26; construction industry allowed to remain open

December 21, 2020   By The Canadian Press

Measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have been implemented throughout construction

All of Ontario will go into lockdown on Boxing Day as the province tries to bring soaring COVID-19 cases under control.

The lockdown will remain in place for southern Ontario until Jan. 23, but will lift for northern Ontario on Jan. 9.


UPDATE: Ontario issues stay at home order, closes non-essential construction


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Premier Doug Ford said the virus is spreading rapidly from areas with a high number of cases to areas with fewer cases, and the province needs to preserve capacity in its health-care system.

“This difficult action is without a doubt necessary to save lives and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed in the coming weeks,” he said.

“Make no mistake, thousands of lives are at stake right now.”

The lockdown means schools across the province will move to online learning from Jan. 4 to Jan. 8, after which students will return to in-person learning depending on their location and grade level. Child-care centres across the province will remain open during the lockdown.

The measures also mean all non-essential businesses must close, and essential businesses that remain open will have strict capacity limits in place. Construction sites, as well as “services that support construction activities” will be permitted to remain open.

The lockdown also means Ontarians are advised to stay home “to the fullest extent possible.”

The announcement of the sweeping lockdown came hours after new projections indicated that Ontario’s ability to control the spread of COVID-19 was “precarious.”

The data by the province’s health advisors concluded that tough lockdowns lasting a month or more could cut the number of daily cases to less than 1,000.

Ontario reported 2,123 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and 17 more deaths related to the virus.

Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the province’s COVID-19 science advisory table, said anything less than a four-week lockdown will not work, based on the experience of other jurisdictions.

“Hard lockdown, a very stringent lockdown, with very strong communication, of four to six weeks can reduce case numbers in Ontario,” he said. “The duration of lockdown is very important.”

Brown said that if Ontario’s COVID-19 case rate continues to grow between one to three per cent, the province will have 3,000 to 5,000 daily cases by the end of January.

If the province sees “substantial growth” of seven per cent, Ontario will have 30,000 daily cases.

The new projections show that under all scenarios the province will see 300 intensive care unit beds filled within 10 days — double the 150-bed threshold where surgeries must be cancelled.

Under a worst-case-scenario, ICU occupancy could hit 1,500 beds by mid-January.

The data also shows that deaths due to COVID-19 will continue to increase, especially in long-term care where there have been 633 resident deaths since Sept. 1, and 100 over the past week.


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14 Comments » for Ontario to lock down Dec. 26; construction industry allowed to remain open
  1. Daniel says:

    I work at a custom kitchen shop where we make custom kitchens for customers and I’m in Ontario. Are we allowed to stay open during the lockdown?

    • David Kennedy says:

      The shop would likely fall under the manufacturing exemption as opposed to construction, but yes, it can almost certainly remain open. If you are the one making the call, I’d suggest checking in with your lawyer/the government to confirm, but the exemption is very broad. The government document containing the specifics is available here.

    • Aly says:

      Hi,
      We are moving into a new house mid-Feb and had a contractor lined up to install light fixtures and do a paint job. The house is empty and the contractor will be working on his own. We will moving in days after the work is complete. Does the new renovations rule apply to occupied residences only or does it apply to all. Because getting some basic upgrades done in an empty home doesn’t seem to be of risk to anyone. Appreciate your reply.

      • David Kennedy says:

        There is not anything in the regulations that refers to occupied vs. unoccupied residential construction projects, so it’s the start date that is likely to be the issue here. By mid-February, there may be some further changes to the regulations, but the way the rules read at the moment, the project would almost certainly need to be put on hold, unless construction started before Jan. 12,

  2. Stewart Jones says:

    Serious question: my wife and I are in a condo in Oakville and started our kitchen reno at the end of November. Due to all the Covid restrictions, we are still in a mess with no sink and the cupboards and counter top yet to be installed. All of this was to be done by the end of December or early January. We cannot live like this for another whole month and hope we would be considered an “essential” situation. Please let us know where we stand.

    • David Kennedy says:

      Hi Stewart,

      Sorry for the slow response. Renovations should fall under the broad umbrella of construction exemptions. I’d advise double checking with the company you’re working with, the government and/or a lawyer, but the work should be allowed to continue. Unlike the previous lockdown, the Ontario regulation does not specifically cite renovations, but both BILD and the OHBA have noted renovations are continuing. A bulletin from WeirFoulds also points to renovations as allowed to continue.

  3. Tomas Beres says:

    Hi,
    I’m the owner of small construction company in Ontario. We supposed to start few renovation residential projects in January. How do the rules for lock down apply in the case when we supposed to work on site where customers reside?

    • David Kennedy says:

      Hi Tomas,

      Follow the health and safety protocols and you should be allowed to continue with them. BILD and the OHBA have noted renovations are continuing and a bulletin from WeirFoulds specifies renovations as allowed to continue.

      I’d advise double checking with the government and/or a lawyer, but the work should fall under the broad construction exemption.

  4. Alex says:

    I live in Ontario and had a home renovation(basement) start in November. Now that the province is in lockdown with it still be able to continue? The renovation is being performed by 2 person’s

    • David Kennedy says:

      Hi Alex,

      Renovations should fall under the broad umbrella of construction exemptions. I’d advise double checking with the company you’re working with, the government and/or a lawyer, but the work should be allowed to continue. Unlike the previous lockdown, the Ontario regulation does not specifically cite renovations, but both BILD and the OHBA have noted renovations are continuing. A bulletin from WeirFoulds also points to renovations as allowed to continue.

  5. Albert Tse says:

    Hello, I’m the owner of small construction company in Ontario. We supposed to start few renovation residential projects in Jan 17, 2021. How do the rules for lock down apply in the case when we supposed to work on site where without customers reside?
    please reply and thanks

    • David Kennedy says:

      Hi Albert,

      I’d refer you to this more recent article for a wider look at the new regulations, but the Jan. 17 start does not bode well. The specific regulation on the renovation exemption reads: “the project involves renovations to residential properties and construction work was started before January 12, 2021.”

      Of course, I would suggest following up directly with the government and/or a lawyer. The province’s “Stop the Spread Business Information Line” at 1-888-444-3659, may be able to help.

  6. Mrs d says:

    Hi I was supposed to have my kitchen installed 2 weeks ago but got delayed and now I received a phone call today from the company stating they aren’t allowed to Install the kitchen without a permit. What I don’t understand is why would I have gotten a permit if the kitchen installation doesn’t require one and we signed the contract months ago which means this is an existing job waiting to be completed pre lockdown

    • David Kennedy says:

      If a permit was not required, it’s possible the company meant (and should have said) they are not allowed to start with the new restrictions.

      The specific regulation tied to renovations reads: “the project involves renovations to residential properties and construction work that was started before January 12, 2021.” If construction work had not already started by Jan. 12, the company is almost certainly not allowed to begin now.

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