COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #23
Dear Strata Councils,
We hope this message finds you safe and healthy during the holiday season and that we have some clearer (if snowy) skies ahead soon. Please stay warm over the next few days.
As you are aware, the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) has introduced additional province-wide restrictions as of December 20th and 22nd, 2021 in an effort to keep BC safe and infection numbers down in light of the highly infectious Omicron variant. We have discussed the recent Order with other management companies and legal counsel to be able to offer the following regarding the latest announcements. These comments are consistent with what other firms in our industry are recommending. With that in mind, we offer the following guidance of a non-legal nature:
Amenity & Meeting Rooms – Indoor personal gatherings are limited to one household plus 10 visitors or 1 other household and everyone 12+ must be fully vaccinated. It would therefore be prudent to close/not use Amenity spaces and Meeting Rooms unless the strata is able to confirm occupancy limits and check vaccine passports.
Gyms & Fitness Centres Closed – It appears that this recent Order excludes strata corporations (as Residential Buildings) in the manner that previous Orders did. That said, you may find it prudent to close your strata fitness facilities that have re-opened be closed until such time as this restriction is lifted and/or appropriately tightened safety protocols are implemented (which may take you time to reimplement a booking system, especially given the holidays being upon us). Should strata gyms and/or fitness centres remain open, they may be subject to restrictions such as occupancy limits, booking systems and masks. If vaccine passports cannot be checked, you may wish for your amenity facility to remain closed. Indeed, any gatherings on common property should be subject to attendees having vaccine passports. In short, each Council will have to decide what is appropriate for your fitness facility based on the Government’s exclusion of them from the Order alongside the rapid closure of facilities in the wider community which Public Health representatives have indicated is the result of transmission occurring within those facilities. Note the wording below from the Provincial website- the broader public announcement which suggests that all gyms be closed, with a noted exemption within the Order itself (published today, December 23rd, 2021) for residential buildings:
To support your Strata with amenity closures, should you decide that to be appropriate, we’ve attached a generic notice you can post on site.
Masks – The new Order does not change the current mask requirements, meaning that strata common property is not within the definition of a public indoor space and wearing a mask is not mandatory. The PHO has left it to each Strata Corporation to determine their own policies with respect to masks in elevators, lobbies, stairwells and other indoor common areas. If you wish to change any of your Rules or policies regarding masks in common areas, please notify your Property Manager and we can assist with updated signage.
Strata Meetings – The Province has extended strata corporations’ ability to hold electronic strata meetings without an authorizing bylaw until December 31, 2022 or until the such time as the state of emergency is lifted. The new Order prohibits indoor gatherings of any size. This will not affect carrying out the regular business of holding strata council meetings as these are now performed almost exclusively on-line with great success.
Additionally, the Order allowing strata corporations to have an additional two months to hold an annual general meeting or special general meeting (effective from May 29, 2020) remains in place. This is the case if the strata is located in an area where a local or provincial state of emergency is in effect at any time during the month before the statutory deadline for holding the meeting, so certainly for the foreseeable future.
As always, these are simply recommendations that can change as more information is made available. It is up to your strata council to make decisions in the best interests of their community while keeping the health and safety of all residents in mind. Strata councils may also wish to seek further legal advice and guidance on these matters and you may contact your property manager directly should you wish to provide those directions. For those interested, the direct link to the PHO announcements is HERE and additional information is available via the BC Government site HERE
We hope that you have the best possible plans for the holidays under the current circumstances we still all find ourselves in and sincerely wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas along with a safe, healthy and happy New Year.