COVID-19 Operational Restrictions

The pandemic has required government to utilize various emergency legislative and policy tools in order to help contain the spread of COVID-19 in our community. This includes measures such as declarations of an emergency, implementing stay-at-home orders, and instituting operational restrictions and requirements for commercial and recreational activities. Please see below for a list of measures impacting business operations currently in effect.

Hamilton is currently in: Step Three Reopening

It is important to be familiar with what the current operational restrictions mean for your business. The provincial government’s Roadmap to Reopen plan includes specific provisions and guidelines for businesses, organizations and services permitted to operate in addition to safe operation requirements.

Review the Roadmap to Reopen Steps to understand what restrictions are currently in place.

On Friday, October 22, the Ontario government launched A Plan to Safely Reopen Ontario and Manage COVID-19 for the Long-Term, which outlines the province’s gradual approach to lifting all remaining public health and workplace safety measures, including the provincial requirement for proof of vaccination and wearing of face coverings in indoor public settings, over the next six months.

The plan will be guided by the ongoing assessment of key public health and health care indicators and supported by local or regional tailored responses to COVID-19.

Here are the proposed following milestones:

October 25, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.
Ontario will lift capacity limits for:

  • Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments;
  • Indoor areas of sports and recreational facilities such as gyms and where personal physical fitness trainers provide instruction;
  • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments; and
  • Indoor meeting and event spaces.

The government will also allow other settings to lift capacity limits and physical distancing requirements if they choose to require proof of vaccination, including:

  • Personal care services (e.g., barber shops, salons, body art);
  • Indoor areas of museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions;
  • Indoor areas of amusement parks;
  • Indoor areas of fairs, rural exhibitions, festivals;
  • Indoor tour and guide services;
  • Boat tours;
  • Indoor areas of marinas and boating clubs;
  • Indoor clubhouses at outdoor recreational amenities;
  • Open house events provided by real estate agencies; and
  • Indoor areas of photography studios and services.

This will not apply to settings where people receive medical care, food from grocery stores and medical supplies.

November 15, 2021
The government intends to lift capacity limits for higher-risk food or drink establishments with dance facilities (e.g., night clubs, wedding receptions in meeting/event spaces where there is dancing).

January 17, 2022
Following the winter holiday months, the province intends to begin gradually lifting capacity limits in settings where proof of vaccination is not required. The Chief Medical Officer of Health will also lift CMOH directives as appropriate.

Proof of vaccination requirements may also begin to be gradually lifted at this time, including for restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, facilities used for sports and recreational facilities and casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments.

March 28, 2022
At this time, it is intended that remaining public health and workplace safety measures will be lifted, including wearing face coverings in indoor public settings.The provincial requirement for proof of vaccination will also be lifted for all remaining settings, including meeting and event spaces, sporting events, concerts, theatres and cinemas, racing venues and commercial and film productions with studio audiences.

Click here to read the full details of this announcement.

The Ontario government released its Roadmap to Reopen, a three-step plan to safely and cautiously reopen the province and gradually lift public health measures based on the provincewide vaccination rate and improvements in key public health and health care indicators.

Roadmap to Reopen outlines three steps to easing public health measures, guided by the following principles:

  • Step One: An initial focus on resuming outdoor activities with smaller crowds where the risk of transmission is lower, and permitting retail with restrictions. This includes allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people, outdoor dining with up to four people per table and non-essential retail at 15 per cent capacity.
  • Step Two: Further expanding outdoor activities and resuming limited indoor services with small numbers of people where face coverings are worn. This includes outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people, outdoor sports and leagues, personal care services where face coverings can be worn and with capacity limits, as well as indoor religious services, rites or ceremony gatherings at 15 per cent capacity. 
  • Step Three: Expanding access to indoor settings, with restrictions, including where there are larger numbers of people and where face coverings can’t always be worn. This includes indoor sports and recreational fitness; indoor dining, museums, art galleries and libraries, and casinos and bingo halls, with capacity limits. 

Click here to learn more about the Roadmap to Reopening.

In Ontario, a declaration of emergency made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (“EMCPA”), as well as any emergency orders adopted under the EMCPA, are periodically reviewed and renewed, as required. Recognizing that there will likely be a continued need to manage the public health risks and effects of COVID-19 well beyond the initially declared emergency, the Ontario government passed Bill 195, now known as the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020.

The Reopening Ontario Act does not allow for the creation of new emergency orders under the Act. However, the continued orders may be amended by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, but only if the amendment requires persons to act in compliance with the advice, recommendations or instruction of a public health official and the amendment relates to one of the following subject matters:

  • Closing or regulating any place, whether public or private, including any business, office, school, hospital or other establishment or institution;
  • Providing for rules or practices related to workplaces or the management of workplaces, or authorizing the person responsible for a workplace to identify staffing priorities or to develop, modify or implement redeployment plans or rules or practices that relate to the workplace or the management of the workplace, including credentialing processes in a health care facility; or
  • Prohibiting or regulating gatherings and organized public events.

Click here for the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA), 2020, S.O. 2020, c. 17.

The City of Hamilton Public Health Services issued a Health Promotion and Protection Act Section 22 Class Order, to break the chain of transmission within local workplaces where COVID-19 or its variants are determined to be spreading.

The Order is now in effect.

The order will require:

  • Employers to notify Public Health Services if two or more cases of COVID-19 are identified within a 14-day period among those who attend the workplace by calling the Public Health Services COVID-19 Hotline at 905-974-9848, option 6, daily 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or after-hours at 905-546-2489.
  • Employers must also notify Public Health Services when five or more cases of COVID-19 are identified within a 14-day period among persons who attend the workplace.
  • The closure of certain workplaces, or parts of workplaces, where five or more confirmed COVID-19 cases are confirmed within a 14-day period and where cases could reasonable have been acquired through infection in the workplace.
  • A workplace closure to be in effect for a minimum period of 10 calendar days.
  • Workplaces subject to closure to post signage provided by Public Health Services at all entrances to the premises.
  • Workers at the closed workplace, or parts of workplaces, to self-isolate where exposures and potential transmission are considered widespread.

These measures may include the full or partial closures of workplaces. Certain workplaces may be exempt from the full closure requirement.

Click here for full details on the Section 22 Class Order including owner/operator requirements and answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

Businesses and workplaces that have questions regarding this announcement can email

Face Coverings By-law (20-155), as amended;

Wearing a mask or face covering will be required in enclosed public spaces under City of Hamilton By-Law 20-155 and City of Hamilton By-law 20-202. The mask or face covering should cover your nose, mouth and chin, without gaping. Wearing a mask or face covering is an additional measure we can take to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and keep each other safe. This means that, with some exceptions, all persons, including customers and/or visitors entering an enclosed premise are required to wear a mask or face covering while in the enclosed space.

Click here to learn more about face coverings and masks.

Physical Distancing By-law (20-164), as amended;

Every person shall maintain a distance of at least two (2) metres from every other person who is not a member of the same household when in a Public Space under the City of Hamilton By-law 20-164.

Hamilton’s Medical Officer of Health has recommended physical distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including maintaining a distance of at least two (2) metres from other individuals who are not members of the same household or who are not members of the same social circle.

Sector-Specific Guidance

Ontario is now in Step Three of the Roadmap to Reopen. For sector-specific information, visit the City of Hamilton’s COVID restrictions page or the Government of Ontario’s sector-specific guidelines.

Learn more about local COVID-19 restrictions and general regulations at