On May 22, 2020 the government of Saskatchewan released an updated version of Re-Open Saskatchewan (the “Plan”), the five-phase plan to slowly and responsibly lift restrictions on business and services.
The newly-revised version of the Plan contains information regarding safety procedures that are required to be followed by businesses that fall under phase three of the Plan. A more general overview of the Plan can be found in our blog here.
Phase three of the Plan has a target implementation date of June 8, 2020. This phase implements the re-opening of the following types of services:
- Remaining personal services that were not opened in previous phases. Examples of these services include:
- Tattoo artists;
- Make-up applications;
- Sun tanning parlours; and
- Facilities in which body piercing, bone grafting or scarification services are provided.
- Restaurants and licensed establishments.
- Gyms and fitness facilities.
- Child-care facilities.
- Places of worship.
Phase three also increases the maximum size of public and private gatherings to a maximum of 15 persons indoors, and 30 people outdoors.
All businesses that are set to reopen in phase three are required to adhere to guidelines that are generally applicable to all businesses. An overview of those guidelines can be found in our blog here.
In addition to following general guidelines, businesses that are set to reopen as part of phase three are required to follow industry-specific guidelines. This blog provides an overview of those specific guidelines.
A close reading of the Plan indicates that at least some of the “guidelines” are likely better identified as minimum public health and safety requirements that all employers will need to take during the five phases of the reopening. In addition, the Plan raises a number of specific workplace safety consideration for employers to consider during the reopening phases, all of which would be best addressed by a COVID-19 exposure control plan.
Further, we note that there is an added civil law risk that arises from a business inviting members of the public onto its property when that business has not following required guidelines under the Plan. These issues should be carefully considered by business owners when considering their reopening plans. In this regard, please see our previous blog on Occupiers’ Liability During COVID-19.
The Plan provides guidelines for the general operation of personal care services restaurants and licensed establishments. Examples of those general guidelines include:
- Requiring clients to attend appointments alone.
- Requiring clients to arrive no more than five minutes before expected appointments.
- Remove an unnecessary communal items from waiting rooms and to clean and disinfect waiting chairs after use by each client.
The Plan also provides cleaning and disinfecting guidelines and PPE requirements for personal care facilities. Notably, the Plan requires that employees who work directly with clients wear PPE, including a procedural/surgical mask and eye protection, plus a protective apron.
Restaurants and Licensed Establishments
Restaurants and licensed establishments will be required to operate at 50% of their regular capacity both indoors and outdoors.
The Plan provides guidelines for the general operation of restaurants and licensed establishments. Examples of those general guidelines include:
- The installation of physical barriers where tables cannot be adequately separated;
- Only members of the same dining party should be seated together and only up to a maximum of six people;
- Modifying or eliminating in-person meetings and shift huddles; and
- Having customers seat themselves by displaying table numbers.
The plan also provides guidelines for employees who work at a restaurant or licensed establishment. These guidelines relate to organizing staffing levels and workplaces in a manner which maintains social distancing. Employers are also encouraged to have a workplace illness policy. If policies do not exist or are not in line with COVID-19 recommendations, workplaces should ensure that all sick employees must stay home or be sent home from work.
The Plan also provides for sanitization guidelines for restaurants and licensed establishments.
Further, the Plan also establishes food and beverage service guidelines for restaurants and licensed establishments. Generally put, these guidelines relate to the manner in which food is served and the available facilities in restaurants and licensed facilities. We specifically note the following requirements:
- Recreation areas within restaurants and licensed established are not allowed to open;
- Live entertainment is not permitted;
- Buffets and self-serve food lines remain closed; and
- Cafeteria-style food facilities are allowed.
Gyms and Fitness Facilities
The Plan provides a significant number of guidelines and requirements for the general operation of gyms and fitness facilities. Examples of those general guidelines include:
- Facilities must only be open when at least one staff member is present. 24 hour unrestricted access without staff present must be suspended;
- Clients should be screened upon arrival by asking if they are sick or symptomatic. If clients are sick or symptomatic they should not be allowed to enter;
- Whenever possible, contactless forms of payment and check-in should be used;
- Employers should have an employee illness policy to encourage staff who are sick to stay home.
The Plan also includes detailed protocols for physical distancing. Examples of protocols to be implemented include equipment booking systems, encouraging clients to bring their own personal equipment and limitations on group fitness classes.
The Plan further provides for cleaning and disinfecting protocols. Examples of these protocols include the use of signage to indicate when equipment has been disinfected, requiring employees to wipe down equipment before and after use and discontinuing the use of reusable towels and cloths.
Additionally, the Plan also imposes PPE obligations on gym and fitness facilities. Notably, if social distancing cannot be maintained at work, employees must be given surgical/procedural masks.
Places of Worship & Childcare Facilities
The government is currently working with stakeholders to develop appropriate protocols for places of worship and childcare facilities. More information will become available in short order.
As outlined above, the Plan contains detailed requirements for businesses that are set to open under phase three. The MLT Aikins occupational health and safety and labour and employment team will continue to monitor the situation and provide additional updates on legal issues that may impact employers. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team if you require assistance in ensuring your organization is prepared to reopen, and particularly if you are unsure as to how your business can satisfy its workplace safety and legal obligations under the Plan.
Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice of opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.