In response to the COVID19 pandemic, on March 24, 2020, the Government of Ontario released a list of workplaces that were deemed to be ‘essential services’ that were permitted to continue to operate in Ontario. On April 3, this list was substantially reduced from 74 to 44. For the first time, the Government has restricted the type of construction workplaces that can remain open.
The construction workplaces that are still deemed to be ‘essential services’ are as follows:
- Construction projects and services associated with the healthcare sector, including new facilities, expansions, renovations and conversion of spaces that could be repurposed for health care space.
- Construction projects and services required to ensure safe and reliable operations of, or to provide new capacity in, critical provincial infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy and justice sectors beyond the day-to-day maintenance.
- Critical industrial construction activities required for,
- the maintenance and operations of petrochemical plants and refineries,
- significant industrial petrochemical projects where preliminary work has already commenced,
- industrial construction and modifications to existing industrial structures limited solely to work necessary for the production, maintenance, and/or enhancement of Personal Protective Equipment, medical devices (such as ventilators), and other identified products directly related to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Residential construction projects where,
- a footing permit has been granted for single family, semi-detached and townhomes
- an above grade structural permit has been granted for condominiums, mixed use and other buildings, or
- the project involves renovations to residential properties and construction work was started before April 4, 2020.
- Construction and maintenance activities necessary to temporarily close construction sites that have paused or are not active and to ensure ongoing public safety.
In addition, businesses that supply the listed projects with support, products, supplies, systems, or services (including processing, packaging, warehousing, distribution, delivery and maintenance) necessary to operate, may also remain open as they are part of the supply chain. Manufacturers who extract, manufacture, process and distribute goods, products, equipment and materials, together with transportation services and businesses that support and facilitate the movement of goods also remain essential workplaces.
As a result, any construction project not covered by the above list must close down by midnight on April 4, 2020. Business-owners with questions concerning their essential business status and whether they fall within the current list of essential workplaces are encouraged to call the Stop the Spread hotline at 1-888-444-3659. The hotline is available from 8:30 a.m.― 9:00 p.m. Monday to Friday and 8:30 a.m.— 5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The Construction Litigation group at Pallett Valo LLP is vigilantly monitoring the response of the Government of Ontario to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the construction industry.