Last week, the Government of Ontario announced new public health restrictions in response to the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
OREA’s government relations and legal teams have assembled the information you need to know to help you comply with the new rules and stay safe.
New Omicron Restrictions and Ontario REALTORS®
To begin, the new provisions apply only to open houses, not to other activities of a real estate brokerage, including real estate showings. Inside a real estate showing, a brokerage/REALTOR® must continue to maintain capacity limits to ensure the two-metre separation requirement and wear masks even if the brokerage policy requires full vaccination in those settings.
Given the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant, OREA encourages all members to temporarily stop in-person open houses.
If you must do host an open house, the following new Provincial rules apply:
- Capacity limits for open houses (which are based upon ensuring there is at least 2 metres of physical separation available at all times) are lifted provided that a brokerage chose to require proof of vaccination.
- The decision to require proof of vaccination can be made daily and applies for the entire day.
- Once a decision is made for that day, you must post signs at all entrances to the property, in a conspicuous location visible to the public that proof of vaccination is required to enter.
Until January 4th, vaccine verification for real estate open houses can occur by both the “Enhanced Method” (the use the Verify Ontario Appto scan digital vaccination certificate QR codes) or the “Original Method” (examination of a paper or downloaded vaccination document).
After January 4, 2022, the Province has indicated that all required vaccination verifications must be carried out using the Verify Ontario App. It is not clear at this time whether mandatory use of the Verify Ontario App will extend to include open houses. OREA will update Members on this issue as soon as the information becomes available.
It is important to understand that the relaxation in capacity limits for open houses does not change the obligation for individuals to maintain at least two-metres of physical separation if they are not masked. Masking and social distancing obligations remain.
Brokerages wishing to consult the full Ministry of Health Proof of Vaccination Guidance can download it by clicking here. While OREA will endeavor to share timely updates with Members, please note that the guidance is subject to change by the Ministry and REALTORS® are encouraged to check it regularly.
To reduce opportunities for close contact, Ontario is introducing 50 per cent capacity limit in indoor public settings, including restaurants, retailers, personal care services, shopping malls, meeting spaces, casinos, and gyms.
While the 50 per cent capacity limits will not apply to office businesses i.e. real estate brokerages. Inside their place of business, a brokerage is required to limit capacity to ensure 2 metres of separation between individuals, even if the brokerage has a vaccination policy in place.
In addition, the requirement to post conspicuous signs at all entrances instructing individuals how to screen themselves for COVID-19 prior to entering the premises and the obligation to actively screen every person who works before they enter, remain in place.
As of today, Monday, December 20, 2021, anyone over the age of 18 is now eligible to schedule their booster dose appointment through Ontario’s booking portal, by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre (1-833-943-3900, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.), or by contacting participating pharmacies. You will be eligible to book an appointment for your booster dose if you are over the age of 18 and have received your second doze at least three months ago (84 days).
OREA continues to ask Ontario REALTORS® to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19 and the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
Please use virtual tools first and to the great extent possible, wear PPE including face masks, limit the number of individuals inside a home/or business, sanitize & disinfect surfaces before and after showings or open houses, and wash your hands regularly.
Like you, I look forward to the day when COVID-19 is behind us, and we can return to seeing family, friends, and colleagues without restrictions.
Until then, please stay safe, happy holidays and Merry Christmas!
Yours very sincerely,