On December 13, 2020, the Government of Alberta posted Chief Medical Officer of Health Order 42-2020 (" CMOH Order 42-2020"), which outlines the enhanced COVID-19 restrictions that were previously announced on December 8, 2020. The restrictions in CMOH Order 42-2020 are effective as of December 13, 2020. The key restrictions applicable to workplaces are summarized below.

Work from Home Requirements

All employers must require workers to work from home unless the employer determines a worker's “physical presence at the workplace is required to effectively operate the workplace." No guidance has been provided in respect of assessing whether a worker's physical presence is required “to effectively operate the workplace”, but the plain wording of the restriction suggests employers will have discretion in making this determination.

Mask Requirements

Individuals must wear a face mask at all times while attending an indoor public place anywhere in Alberta. This includes any indoor location where a business or entity is operating. Rental accommodations used as a private residence are excluded. In addition, certain exemptions apply, including for individuals:

  • working at a farming or ranching operation (as defined in CMOH Order 42-2020) unless they are interacting with a member of the public;
  • working alone at a workstation that is separated by at least 2 meters of distance from all other individuals;
  • separated from every other person by a physical barrier that prevents droplet transmission;
  • subject to a workplace hazard assessment in which it is determined that the individual's safety will be at risk if a mask is worn while working;
  • unable to wear a face mask due to a mental or physical limitation or concern; or
  • consuming food or drink, or engaging in physical exercise.

Business Closures

Certain businesses are required to close to the public, including:

  • food-serving businesses that provide dine-in services, such as restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs. However, these businesses can still offer take-out, delivery or drive-thru services;
  • recreational and entertainment businesses, such as community halls, theatres, auditoriums, concert halls, nightclubs, banquet halls, conference centres, hotel meeting rooms, libraries, science centres, gyms, fitness centres, recreation centres, indoor arenas, curling rinks, studios, pools, day and overnight camps, indoor children's play centres and indoor playgrounds; museums and galleries, casinos, gaming centres, bingo halls, bowling alleys, pool halls, racing entertainment centres, indoor recreation and entertainment centres, amusement parks, water parks, indoor interpretative centres, and indoor portions of zoos;
  • festivals, concerts, exhibitions, tradeshows, sporting events and competitions; and
  • personal and wellness services, such as hair salons, nail salons, massage parlours, tattoo and piercing parlours.

Restricted In-Person Services

Certain businesses are permitted to remain open to the public but must operate by appointment only. These include hotels, motels, lodges, and professional services.  

Business Capacity Restrictions

Retail businesses are required to limit public access to the  greater of: (i) 15% of the Alberta Fire Code occupancy limit; or (ii) five individuals.  

Takeaways for Employers

These restrictions will be in place until rescinded by the Chief Medical Officer of Health. However, the Government of Alberta has indicated it expects these restrictions will be in place until at least January 12, 2021.  Individuals or businesses who violate CMOH Order 42-2020 or other existing public health orders may be fined $1,000 per offence, and if prosecuted successfully for contravening a public health order, up to $100,000 for a first offence and $500,000 for a subsequent offence.

COVID-19 public health measure restrictions continue to develop. We will monitor the situation and provide updates as they are available. Employers with specific questions regarding the current restrictions can seek guidance from experienced legal counsel at Stikeman Elliott LLP.

Originally Published by Stikeman Elliott LLP, December 2020

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.