Open houses in Ontario COVID-19 hotspots are officially suspended temporarily due to the increasing daily coronavirus cases.
This marks the second time during the coronavirus pandemic that Ontario realtors have lost their ability to host in-person open houses.
As part of the province's implemented modified Stage 2, realtors in Toronto, Peel, Ottawa, and York Region are now prohibited from hosting in-person open houses as a result of their recent trends in public health indicators, including higher than average rates of COVID-19 transmission.
The open house ban, along with the other Stage 2 restrictions, will be in place for the next 28 days and reassessed on an ongoing basis.
“We are pleased to see the Government has listened to OREA’s advice on stopping open houses in areas of the Province where COVID-19 cases are on the rise,” said Sean Morrison, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association, in a press release issued on Friday.
Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) president Lisa Patel echoed Morrison and said TRREB supports the provincial government's ban on in-person real estate open houses for the second time.
"With cases in Ontario on the rise again, we must continue to limit face-to-face interactions as much as possible and use virtual tools to the greatest extent possible," said Patel.
"While in-person open houses are prohibited, showings to pre-qualified clients are necessary in order to facilitate and complete transactions, and Members must ensure they follow health and safety best practices when doing so."
According to the province, open houses are now prohibited in Ottawa, Peel, Toronto and York Region as of the following dates and times:
- Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto: Saturday, October 17, 2020, at 12:01 am
- York Region: Monday, October 19, 2020, at 12:01 am
Under the new rules from the province, in-person showings may be permitted, but they must be scheduled by appointment for buyers and sellers.
Digital tools, such as virtual showings and virtual open houses continue to be promoted to real estate professionals as a safer alternative by OREA and TRREB.
The ban is in place for a minimum of 28 days and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis by the Government; it is one of several other public health measures that have been put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Measures under this modified Stage 2 include:
- Reducing limits for all social gatherings and organized public events to a maximum of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors where physical distancing can be maintained. The two limits may not be combined for an indoor-outdoor event;
- Prohibiting indoor food and drink service in restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, including nightclubs and food court areas in malls;
- Closing of:
- Indoor gyms and fitness centres (i.e., exercise classes and weight and exercise rooms);
- Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments;
- Indoor cinemas, performing arts centres and venues, (except for rehearsing or performing a recorded or broadcasted performance subject to conditions, including no spectators);
- Spectator areas in racing venues;
- Interactive exhibits or exhibits with high risk of personal contact in museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, etc.;
- Prohibiting personal care services where face coverings must be removed for the service (e.g. makeup application, beard trimming);
- Prohibiting real estate open houses (permitting in-person showing by appointments only)
- Reducing the capacity limits for:
- Tour and guide services to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors
- In-person teaching and instruction (e.g. cooking class) to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, with certain exemptions, including for schools, universities, colleges of applied arts and technology, private career colleges, the Ontario Police College, etc.
- Meeting and event spaces to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors with limited exemptions, including for government operations and the delivery of government services; and
- Limiting team sports to training sessions (no games or scrimmages).