Covid-19 in Condos - July 10, 2020
Happy Friday - hope everyone is well and coping as well as possible with the ongoing heat wave and of course, with the continuing pandemic related issues.
We last wrote to you on June 11 - bet you thought I had forgotten about you :)
It has been too long!!
When we set out to develop our Blog so many months ago, in the pre-pandemic world (does anyone actually remember life before Covid?), we chose the name “Condominium Manager’s Perspective” in the hopes of being able to provide some insight into the day-to-day practical aspects of the various condo management topics raised in condo legal community and other blogs. Little did we know at the time that the world was about to be plunged into uncharted territory. It has been a bumpy ride.
Not going to lie to you - it has been a significant challenge for all condominium managers to simultaneously continue to offer researched, considered, industry-best-practice advice and steady guidance to our Boards, all the while managing the exponentially increased level (and “flavour”) of communications from our Ownerships. This of course is coupled with managing the very same personal decisions and drastic life changes as the rest of the world! In other settings, I would tell you to “hug your manager - trust me he/she needs it” - but yeah…. that is still not allowed! Hats off to all of our dedicated (but tired) Condo Manager colleagues across the Province who continue to weather this storm. It will be ok in the end - we will see them through this - together.
Thank you to everyone who continues to voluntarily modify their schedules and life styles to practice physical distancing and / or self isolation. A shout out also to all those for whom the employment status, lifestyle and schedule changes have been forced upon them. Hang in there… Thank you also to all of you who have incorporated masks into your wardrobe!
On July 9, 2020 the Province extended the emergency period to July 24, 2020
The Province continues to urge all Ontarians who are exhibiting symptoms or who suspect they have been exposed to Covid to attend a testing centre. Before attending a testing centre they request that you begin by taking the self-assessment test: link here
The list of covid testing centres in Ottawa is here.
Details concerning the City of Ottawa’s response and current restriction concerning Covid are available here.
PHASES OF REOPENINGS
Ontario is now in Phase 2 of the Province’s planned re-opening.
When the Province first announced its three-phased approach - there was a collective sigh of relief and a glimmer of hope that there is indeed a path for forward progress and a way to come out of isolation. Based on every other type of graduated levels system we have ever known - everyone of course looks forward to the next phase and assumes of course that the next phase will be BETTER. This is not unlike the deeply ingrained knowledge when you are 18 years old that when you are 30 you will “have your life together” and will have mastered this “adult” thing. (Now in my mid 50’s - I have more bad news for you by the way..). It’s a matter of PERSPECTIVE!
During Phase 1 every single person (including Boards and managers) looked forward to phase 2 when it would “permissible” to do things again. However, 2020 being what it is - as it turns out, Phase 2 is MUCH harder than Phase 1. In retrospect Phase 1 was MUCH easier.
Nothing was allowed. The standard answer to just about every question was “NO - it is not currently allowed by legislation".
Phase 2, in all its glory makes many things “permissible” - but not necessarily “advisable”, not necessarily “desirable”. Under Phase 2, the standard answer to just about every question is now “Not sure let me check… Yes you may, but should you?”. It’s a matter of PERSPECTIVE! (Seeing a pattern here?)
In phase 2 - Boards across the Province are grappling with decisions on whether or not to re-open the common facilities (subject to continuing Provincial orders). With public venues open, there is much pressure on Condominiums to reopen recreational facilities and common areas. This an understandable request given all of the “progress” (also a matter of PERSPECTIVE) being made with re-opening the economy, our favorite shops and eateries/terraces…
That said, there is a significant fundamental difference in mandate (raison d’être) between commerces who are in the business of providing goods, services and entertainment as opposed to the mandate of condominium corporations, who while they include certain similar facilities, are certainly NOT in business solely to provide recreational areas….
Across the Province (and surely across the Country), the condominium legal community also continues to strive to stay up to date with the rapidly changing landscape and to provide industry best practice advice to our Boards in a wholly imperfect world.
Broken down to its simplest form, in the end the business of making decisions about condominium re-openings is entirely an exercise in risk and resource management. Does your condominium Corporation have the necessary resources (staff time, money) to take all reasonable precautions to reduce/control the risks of reopening? If it does not currently have the resources available, will the community support additional contributions to allow additional recourses to allow for additional cleaning, additional security to control access, additional administrative work to collect and manage Covid screening information and contact information to allow for contact tracing if it required?
Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” answer to all of these questions. Certainly, in all cases, Boards are soliciting and receiving legal and other industry advice and apply this advice as best they can to their particular Condominium Corporation. I would tell you to “hug your board members - trust me they need it” - but yeah…. that too is still not allowed! Try to resist the urge to be upset with your Board…. They are making the best decisions possible with the information they have in a very rapidly evolving situation. It will be ok in the end - we will see them through this - together. But as far as PERSPECTIVE goes - I am actually starting to dread phase 3! :))
ANXIETY OVER RE-OPENINGS and now with MASKS!
More and more, we continue to be faced with daily decisions about our varying levels of comfort about returning to our lives and activities. In all cases, these decisions are very personal and are dependent of course, upon many factors including personal convictions, physical and mental health, as well as varying comfort levels about attending public places.
In Ottawa, the City has mandated that masks must be worn in inside public settings. While condominium corporation common elements areas are not technically considered public settings, the majority of condominium communities in our care endorse and support the use of masks. If you need a list of places where cloth or disposable masks may be purchased, please do not hesitate to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Words of advice…. In every instance, it helps to remember that what is right for others may not be right for you…. Cutting each other a ton of slack, being considerate of other people’s needs and limitations and respecting each other’s boundaries are key :)
Where new or pre-existing social anxiety exists, stick to your comfort zones and take “baby steps”, do only what is strictly necessary in public and retreat to the safety of your own home. But DO take care of your emotional well being. There are excellent resources and ideas about how to protect your mental health at this City of Ottawa website.
It’s not only “OK to not be OK” - it’s also “OK to do what YOU need to DO to be OK”. My younger colleagues would say “YOU do YOU”. I LOVE that!
I know you are tired of hearing this - but in fairness I have not nagged you since June 11…. The leading of causes of high rise fires remain a) unattended cooking, and b) balcony fires.
We are sad to report that we have actually now had a fire in one of our communities. Thankfully no one was injured - but it certainly brings it “close to home”….
Please - we cannot urge you strongly enough:
Ensure your unit door, all amenity and stairwell doors remain securely latched when not in use
Never leave pots unattended on the stove
Do not microwave textiles and masks
Do not overload electrical extension cords
Do not throw lit cigarette butts ever the balcony railing
Masks! Please do not microwave textiles to dry or disinfect them. This is especially true of masks with a metal nose clip.
Hand Sanitizing Gel! This almost wholly alcohol based product is easily ignited at high temperatures. Ottawa is currently under a heat warning - please do not heave your hand sanitizer in your vehicle.
In the event of fire alarms at your building, please follow the instructions from the Fire Plan which were distributed at various times over the years. If you require a copy of the instructions, please email me at email@example.com. Most importantly, if you are required to evacuate the building, please remember to ensure that you practice proper physical distancing measures (6 feet apart at all times).
We continue to be HERE for you, we are just not THERE for you. We truly enjoy your feedback and appreciate the support we receive from each of you.
Keep the message positive - keep your sense of humour, try not to respond to negativity, try to see things from each other’s PERSPECTIVES and just TRUST.
It will be ok in the end - we will see each other through this - together.
J (the Den Mother)
p.s. Wash your hands and if you able to do so wear a mask :)
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