Ontario updates list of essential workplaces; restricts construction work

Matthew Hamilton on Unsplash

On Friday, April 3, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced an update to the list of essential workplaces that can remain open.

As part of the restrictions, construction work will be stopped on many projects, with the exception of work in the healthcare and infrastructure sectors. Certain industrial construction activities will also be allowed to proceed. Residential construction that has already been permitted, as well as residential renovations that are already underway, will also be allowed.

The restrictions are aimed at further reducing contact between people and stopping the spread of COVID-19.

By 11:59 p.m. Saturday, April 4, 2020, businesses that are not identified on this list must close their physical locations.

Architects were implicitly included on an earlier list of essential services, under category 65 (“professional services including lawyers and para-legals, engineers, accountants, translators”). This category is no longer on the list. However, teleworking remains permitted at all times for all businesses.

The Construction section of the essential businesses list has been revised to the following version:

  1. Construction projects and services associated with the healthcare sector, including new facilities, expansions, renovations and conversion of spaces that could be repurposed for health care space.
  2. Construction projects and services required to ensure safe and reliable operations of, or to provide new capacity in, critical provincial infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy and justice sectors beyond the day-to-day maintenance.
  3. Critical industrial construction activities required for,
    1. the maintenance and operations of petrochemical plants and refineries,
    2. significant industrial petrochemical projects where preliminary work has already commenced,
    3. industrial construction and modifications to existing industrial structures limited solely to work necessary for the production, maintenance, and/or enhancement of Personal Protective Equipment, medical devices (such as ventilators), and other identified products directly related to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.
  4. Residential construction projects where,
    1. a footing permit has been granted for single family, semi-detached and townhomes
    2. an above grade structural permit has been granted for condominiums, mixed-use and other buildings, or
    3. the project involves renovations to residential properties and construction work was started before April 4, 2020.
  5. Construction and maintenance activities necessary to temporarily close construction sites that have paused or are not active and to ensure ongoing public safety.

The OAA’s COVID-19 update page includes considerations for architects working on projects whose construction sites may be subject to the new restrictions.

A document prepared by the OAA notes:

Provided they can be performed safely in compliance with appropriate health and safety measures, here are some examples of work (both office and site) that may be able to continue during a construction shutdown:

  • any work related to marketing or client-keeping; 
  • work related to new projects, including:
    • site surveys of buildings;
    • retention and coordination of consultants; and
    • preparation of drawings and reports for submission to AHJs (e.g. committee of adjustment and site plan agreements);
  • processing of applications for payment, and preparation of certificates for payment;
  • review of options related to deferral of work and the calculation of substantial performance;
  • completion of field reports;
  • coordination with consultants;
  • electronic receipt and review of shop drawings;
  • receipt and review of material samples;
  • receipt of and responses to RFIs;
  • preparation and processing of Supplemental Instructions (SIs) and change documents;
  • review of material submitted as close-out documents (e.g. warranties and operation & maintenance manuals); 
  • review of as-built drawing submissions;
  • preparation of record drawings;
  • construction coordination meetings with owner, architect, consultants, and contractor (to review existing ongoing items or future conditions that may required for pre-planning or coordination); and
  • Archiving of project material.

The full list of essential workplaces from the Province of Ontario can be viewed here.

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