Ontario, Canada: Masks Must be Worn in Indoor Area of Business Premises and in Vehicles Operating as Part of Business

On October 2, 2020, the government of Ontario filed Ontario Regulation 546/20 (Regulation) made under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020.  The Regulation came into force on October 3, 2020.  With some exceptions, the Regulation requires businesses or organizations that are open to require anyone in (a) the indoor area of their premises, or (b) in a vehicle operating as part of the business or organization, to wear a mask or face covering that covers their mouth, nose and chin. 

The Regulation also subjects businesses in Toronto, Ottawa and Peel (Enhanced Measures Zone) that rent out meeting or event space to additional restrictions. 

Mask/Face Covering Requirement

The Regulation’s mask/face covering requirement is subject to a number of exemptions, including but not limited to, a person who:

  • Performs work for the business or organization in an area that is not accessible to members of the public and is able to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person while in the indoor area;
  • Is being reasonably accommodated in accordance with the Human Rights Code;
  • Is being accommodated in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005;
  • Needs to temporarily remove their mask or face covering while in the indoor area to:
    • receive services that require the removal of their mask or face covering,
    • engage in an athletic or fitness activity,
    • consume food or drink, or
    • as may be necessary for the purposes of health and safety
  • Is unable to put on or remove their mask or face covering without the assistance of another person; or
  • Has a medical condition that inhibits their ability to wear a mask or face covering.

Persons entitled to the exemptions set out in the Regulation are not required to provide evidence of their entitlement.   

Restrictions on Businesses in Enhanced Measures Zone

With some exceptions, the Regulation applies restrictions on the total number of people permitted to be in businesses or places in the Enhanced Measures Zone that rent out meeting or event space, and applies additional rules to such spaces. 

Bottom Line for Employers

Many employers previously instituted a policy of not requiring masks in indoor workplaces where employees could adequately maintain physical distancing of at least two metres.  This Regulation maintains that approach as long as the indoor area is not accessible to the public. 

The Regulation requires that a mask be worm by anyone in “a vehicle operating as part of the business.”  This language is very broad and on its face includes not only company-owned or leased vehicles, but also personal vehicles used by employees for business purposes. 

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.