We’ve heard initial reports that the provincial proof of vaccination requirement that will apply to gyms, fitness and recreational facilities, and meetings and event spaces (among others), will not apply to those same facilities in condos.
If this feels like déjà vu to you, you’re not alone. Remember when masks were first mandated in “enclosed public places”? Condos were excluded from the first iteration of the mandatory mask by-laws in Toronto, passed on June 30, 2020.
The result? Some condos implemented their own mandatory mask policies; others didn’t. No consistency, lots of hesitation and scrambling, and, most importantly, no guarantee of reasonable safety precautions or protection for the residents and service providers living and working in these settings.
Fortunately, the City of Toronto changed course and included condos in the amendment to the mask bylaw about a month later.
As we said back then with masks, while condos may not be a “public” place – for the purpose of COVID-19 transmission and risks – they might as well be. COVID-19 does not care whether a gym is “public” vs. inside of a condo – neither should our legislation and proof of vaccination requirements. If anything, the reality may be quite the opposite; condo gyms are generally frequented by residents living under one roof. Those residents share lots of enclosed common areas with many of their neighbours – lobbies, gyms, mail rooms, etc. The province needs to ensure residents and workers in these settings – who have no choice but to use these enclosed common areas with their neighbours – are afforded the same level of protection as those in “public” settings.
Each condo board, composed of volunteer directors working tirelessly to navigate the challenges associated with COVID-19, should not have to make these decisions for their community. If condos are excluded from the application of the proof of vaccination requirement, it opens up condo boards and managers to unnecessary (and in our view, meritless) questions about enforceability and reasonableness of their own policies that apply to condo gyms and other similar amenities. Many condo boards and managers trying to ensure health and safety on their properties already face immense pressure from some residents with respect to their amenities; the province shouldn’t give these residents another reason to argue.
As the Province irons out the details of the proof of vaccination requirement, let’s hope they realize condo residents deserve the same protection.
We encourage condo corporations to take all reasonable steps to help curb the spread of COVID-19 and consider consulting with your condo lawyer about whether to implement a mandatory vaccination policy for the amenities. See our recent blog post for more info.