Ontario Returns to Step 2 of Reopening Plan

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Ontario to Enter Modified Step 2 on Wednesday January 5th, 2022

We were hoping that we could wish everyone a happy new year and begin our first newsletter of 2022 on a more positive note, but unfortunately the pandemic rages on. 
We know that all of you will be impacted by these restrictions in some way whether it is as a business owner or in your personal lives and we feel your frustration. Please know that NOTO is here to support you and we are open to taking calls and emails about how these new restrictions are impacting your lives. We also want you to know that we are moving forward with efforts to gain more non-repayable and meaningful financial supports for you. 
Due to a significant increase in COVID-19 cases across the province, the strain on testing capacities, and the recent uptick in hospitalizations, the Government of Ontario has announced that the province will move to a Modified Step 2 for 21 days (until January 26th), with possibility of extension based on public health trends at that time. Here is a list of regulations that apply to our sectors: 
General Regulations:

  • Face coverings must be worn indoors in all businesses, organizations and indoor public settings.
  • Masks must also be worn when attending an organized public event indoors, and outdoor if individuals are within 2m of another person from outside their household.
  • Any individual inside a business/company vehicle must also wear a mask.
  • Masks must cover the nose, chin and mouth. Both the provincial and federal governments are encouraging individuals to purchase medical masks.
  • Physical distancing (2m) is required in both indoor and outdoor spaces.
  • Any employee who is able to work remotely (from home), must do so.
  • Physical distancing or physical barriers are required in indoor spaces where employees remove their masks to eat or drink.
  • If an employee must come into close contact with someone who is not wearing a mask, they must wear PPE which covers their eyes, nose and mouth (goggles/safety glasses or face shield and a mask).
  • For businesses permitted to remain open in Step 2, the following capacity limits apply: a 50% capacity limit OR a capacity limit where individuals are capable of remaining 2m apart, the lesser of the two applies.
  • If line-ups are required in indoor or outdoor spaces, individuals in line must remain 2m apart and wear a mask.
  • Washrooms, showers, change rooms, etc. must be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
  • Every business must have a safety plan posted in a conspicuous location, and made available upon request. A safety plan is essentially the business’s COVID-19 protocols, disinfection/cleaning practices, and plan in the event that an employee or guest tests positive in the workplace.

Screening Requirements:

  • All businesses must actively screen their employees each day. (Active screening involves asking individuals if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, if they’ve been identified as a close contact or asked to self isolate, and their recent travel history).
  • All businesses must passively screen their guests (post signage at all entrances and in obvious locations that informs individuals how to self screen for COVID-19 and that tells them to not enter if they exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms listed).
  • Some specific businesses and tour and guide services must record the name and contact information and actively screen each individual. View more details in the lists below.

Food & Drink Establishments:

  • Indoor dining closed.
  • Can only be open for outdoor dining, take-out, or delivery services.
  • No buffet-style service permitted.
  • Alcohol can only be sold and served between 9am and 10pm.
  • For outdoor dining spaces, if a roof, canopy, tent, or other structure is used, two full sides, or one full side with the roof, must be opened to allow for air circulation. The maximum capacity must be posted. Maximum of 10 individuals per table. Individuals must remain seated. Businesses must record name and contact information or each individual. Can only be open from 5am to 11pm, and alcohol can only be served between 9am and 10pm.
  • Performers must be at least 3m away from the audience.


  • For social gatherings, indoor limits of 5 people, and outdoor limits of 10 people apply.
  • For organized public events at a business (ex: wedding), the outdoor limit is the amount of individuals that can remain 2m apart, and for an indoor ceremony, the 50% capacity rule applies HOWEVER the indoor limit of 5 continues to apply for receptions or other associated social gatherings.

Tour and Guide Services:

  • Outdoor tour and guide services only.
  • Number of individuals permitted to attend a tour or guide service is limited to 2m physical distancing requirements.
  • People obtaining tour and guide services must remain outdoors.
  • Businesses must record the name and phone number of each individual obtaining these services.
  • Businesses must actively screen all individuals receiving tour and guide services (ask COVID-19 symptom and travel history questionnaire).
  • Employees and individuals receiving these services can not be in a vehicle that is closed to the elements

Short-term Rentals (lodges/resorts are not included in short term rentals*):

  • Open only to individuals in need of housing (does not apply to hotels, motels, lodges, resorts, and other shared accommodations, but do apply to cottage and cabin rentals).
  • To see if your business falls under the cottage/cabin rentals, or under lodges/resorts, please look at your Canada Revenue Agency NAICS classification number. If the first four digits of your 6-digit NAICS code are 7212, you would be classified as a lodge. If you remain unsure, please contact your local public health unit or the NOTO staff.

Ice Fishing Huts:

  • Ice fishing huts can only be used by individuals from the same household and not used overnight. (We are seeking clarification as to why the restriction on overnight use considering that use is only for people from the same household).


  • Open
  • Pools, hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms, indoor meeting spaces, fitness centers, and other indoor recreational amenities must be closed. Must comply with regulations for food & drink establishments if applicable.

Hotels, Motels, Lodges, Resorts and Other Shared Rental Accommodations:

  • Open
  • Pools, hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms, indoor meeting spaces, fitness centers, and other indoor recreational amenities must be closed. Must comply with regulations for food & drink establishments if applicable.


  • Open
  • Clubhouses, pools, hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms, indoor meeting spaces, fitness centers, and other indoor recreational amenities must be closed. Must comply with regulations for food & drink establishments if applicable.

 Other Restrictions:

  • Steam rooms, saunas, pools, hot tubs, oxygen bars, indoor fitness centers, or other indoor recreational facilities must be closed.

 Meeting and Event Spaces:

  • Meeting and event indoor spaces closed.
  • Outdoor meeting and event spaces limited to 2m physical distancing requirements, maximum capacity must be posted maximum tables of 10 people, contact tracing (record name and phone number of all attendees), everyone must remain seated at all times, no signing and dancing, proof of vaccination required, alcohol can only be sold between 9am and 10pm.

To view the powerpoint presentation from the Ministry, please click here.
To read the news release from the Province, please click here. 
NOTO will be sharing a complete extensive list of support programs that remain available in this week’s newsletter. We know that many of you feel exhausted, frustrated, worried about the future and more. Please know that we share these emotions with you, and the NOTO staff are here to support you.

Please note: Local medical officers of health also have the ability to issue Section 22 orders under the Health Protection and Promotion Act to target specific transmission risks in the community. All operators are encouraged to reach out to their local health units to make sure they comply with all regulations and restrictions in their respective districts.

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