What you need to know about Stage 3 of Ontario’s Reopening Plan
As Ontario enters or prepares to enter Stage 3 of the Province’s plan for reopening the economy, many housing providers have questions about how their operations will be affected. Read on to learn more about Stage 3 and how the relaxed restrictions may impact community housing provider services and operations.
What’s changing in Stage 3
On July 13, 2020, the provincial government announced that most Ontario regions would move to Stage 3 of the Province’s Framework for Reopening our Province. This stage allows nearly all businesses and public spaces to open, provided social distancing protocols and capacity limits are enforced. Higher risk spaces (such as buffet-style restaurants, overnight camps for children, and amusement parks and water parks) that are unable to meet these requirements will be unable to open in Stage 3.
Gathering limits have been increased to 50 people indoors and 100 at outdoor gatherings. Individuals are still required to maintain a distance of two meters from those outside their household or bubble, which remains capped at 10 people.
Keeping staff, residents, and visitors safe
One of the biggest changes for housing providers moving into Stage 3 will be the ability to open up their offices and buildings once again. ONPHA’s COVID-19 Planning Checklist suggests that you appoint a Pandemic Coordinator or Pandemic Response Team to help you navigate the reopening process safely.
The increased mobility of residents, staff, visitors and outside workers will be one of the greater challenges in keeping your buildings and offices safe. The more people are interacting with one another, the greater the risk of transmission of the virus.
When it comes to resuming operations, keep in mind that social distancing protocols and capacity limits are still necessary. You will need a plan to assess and minimize risk of virus transmission and ensure that staff are aware of the plan as well as your sick leave policies and what to do if they start to feel unwell while at work. Download ONPHA’s free resource, A Guide to Reopening Your Workplace, for information on how to get your organization running again under the ‘new normal’.
Community housing providers have been working hard to keep their tenants feeling safe and connected to their communities during the pandemic through wellness checks and virtual activities. This past May, the blog checked in with some ONPHA members to see how they were facilitating safe activities for their communities. Some providers were starting to initiate activities that could be held in person while maintaining social distancing practices. Click here to find out more about some of their initiatives.
Community gardens have been allowed to reopen since April 25, as schedules and practices can be adapted to meet health and safety guidelines. As limits for outdoor gatherings increase, some providers and community members may wish to hold small events in their gardens and other community spaces. Any events must follow social distancing requirements and signage indicating traffic directions and where visitors must wait to enter should be employed. Read Community gardening during a pandemic: tips for making your gardens safe here on the blog for more information.
Housing providers also expressed an interest in resuming recreational programs, including children’s programming, once restrictions have been relaxed. With children returning to playgrounds, day camps, and recreational facilities across Ontario, you may find that your organization is in a position to do so.
It is critical that you maintain social distancing, meet sanitation requirements by providing adequate handwashing and/or hand sanitizing stations, and follow gathering limits if you are considering facilitating recreational activities. Where children are involved, you may find it necessary to have more staff available to ensure health and safety requirements are being met. Of course, hosting virtual gatherings and online games and offering socially distanced activities such as sidewalk art contests may be the safest way to provide recreational opportunities for residents.
Review the Province’s A Framework for Reopening our Province: Stage 3 to get more information on reopening, restrictions and requirements, and links to resources that can help you resume ‘near normal’ operations safely.
Have questions about Stage 3 and how you can adapt to safely reopen your operations and tenant services? Want to share your best practices? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always happy to hear from you, and to help!