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Legal Requirements for Venue Occupancy for the U.S, Mexico, and Canada

The Covid pandemic has forced governments across the globe to deal with various waves and strains of Covid19 very differently. Advice from WHO (The World Health Organisation) regarding personal safety was to wear a face mask in public and to maintain a safe distance from anyone around us.

But as many governments haven’t dealt with or had a plan to deal with a pandemic, the rules regarding socialising, business operations and general travel have all majorly been put in place to reflect ever-changing data.

In this blog, we will focus on the current rules and regulations around gatherings by these areas: U.S / Mexico / Canada

Occupancy Rules In The United States

Many states have dealt with outbreaks of C19 differently, each applying their own rules and ‘Alert Levels’ based on the severity of cases per county

New York

In response to the C19 pandemic, New York developed Localized Restriction Zone’s (Red, Orange, and Yellow) which allow for better management and containment of any C19 outbreaks. In all zones, any individuals that encourage, promote or organize mass gatherings can be fined up to $15,000/day.

Red Zone Restrictions

Non-essential businesses that are in a Red Zone must close. To see the Empire State Development Corporation breakdown of essential businesses and entities click here

Education Venues – Public schools and nonpublic schools must close and return to full remote learning

Restaurants & Bars – All food establishments cannot provide indoor or outdoor dining. However business can operate takeout and delivery options. 

Religious Venues – Houses of worship can operate at 25% capacity, up to a maximum of 10 people, whichever is fewer.

Orange Zone Restrictions

Restaurants & Bars – All food establishments can provide outdoor dining and takeout/delivery service only. There can be no more than four people maximum per table and no indoor dining is allowed.

Religious Venues – Houses of worship can operate at 33% capacity, up to a maximum of 25 people, whichever is fewer

Yellow Zone Restrictions

All indoor venues must limit the number of employees to an essential number that can conduct in-store collection and curbside pick-up. Occupancy cannot exceed more than 50% of the maximum occupancy for a particular area set by the certificate of occupancy

All customers that enter a retail venue must maintain a distance of 6ft from others or wear an acceptable face covering.

Non-essential – All non-essential workspaces can reopen, but must follow COVID-19 requirements for their sector. More information about this can be found here

Education Venues – All public and nonpublic schools can reopen

Restaurants & Bars – All food establishments can provide indoor and outdoor dining allowed. There is a max of 4 people per table.

Religious Venues – Houses of worship can operate at 50% capacity

Here you can find the most up to date information on New York’s Covid Zone’s

California

The west-coast state of California developed a multi-tier and colour coded system for determining how C19 was spreading through the state’s counties. 

Tier 1 – Widespread (Purple)

All Retail – Retail venues can operate at 25% capacity

Shopping Centres – Shopping centres are able to run at 25% capacity but common areas and food courts must remain closed off

Religious Venues – All religious venues are allowed to operate at 25% capacity

Tier 2 – Substantial (Red)

All Retail – Retail venues in this tier can operate at 50% capacity

Shopping Centers – Shopping centers can operate at 50% capacity with some food court options available and common areas still being closed off

Cinemas – Cinemas can operate drive-in with guidelines and indoor at 25% capacity or 100 people whichever is fewer

Restaurants – Food venues can operate indoor dining at 25% capacity or 100 people whichever is fewer

Gyms – Health and wellness venues can operate indoors at 10% capacity

Tier 3 – Moderate (Orange)

Museums – Museums are able to open at 50% capacity for indoor activities

Religious Venues – All religious venues are able to operate at 50% of the maximum capacity

Cinemas – Cinemas in tier 3 are able to run at 50% capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer

Restaurants – Food venues are able to run at 50% capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer

Live Sports Audiences – Stadiums, arenas and other sports venues are able to operate at a maximum of 20% capacity

Amusement Parks – Amusement parks are able to operate at 25% capacity or 500 people, whichever is fewer. All activity must be outside and in-county visitors only. All reservations must be made in advance

Gyms – Health and wellness facilities are able to operate at 25% of the maximum capacity

Tier 4 – Minimal (Yellow)

Religious Venues – Religious venues in ‘Tier 4’ are able to operate at a max capacity of 50%

Cinemas – Cinemas are able to operate at 50% capacity but there is no overall cap

Gyms – Health and wellness facilities are able to run at 50% capacity. Saunas and steam rooms can now be used

Bars & Restaurants – Food and drinks venues are able to run at a maximum capacity of 50%

Live Sports Audiences – Sports venues that provide seating for events must not exceed a maximum of 25% capacity, and all reservations must be done in advance

Amusement Parks – Amusement parks are able to operate at a maximum of 25% with no overall cap. All reservations must be done in advance

Connecticut

The state of Connecticut is currently undergoing a 3 phase campaign to reopening venues and allowing industries to return to full capacity. All indoor dining facilities must close at 10:30 pm and 24-hour diners can reopen at 5 am. Entertainment venues such as cinemas and bowling alleys must close at 11 pm.

Below are how Connecticut industries are affected by recent campaign phases (2 / 2.1 / 3):

Restaurants

  • In phase 2, restaurants can operate at 50% capacity indoors with 6ft spacing between tables and/or non-porous barriers
  • In phase 2.1, restaurants are limited to 50% capacity with 6ft spacing and/or non-porous barriers and no more than eight people can be seated per table
  • In phase 3, restaurants can operate at 75% capacity indoors with 6ft spacing and/or non-porous barriers

Indoor Recreation

  • Venues in this industry can operate at 50% capacity, with social distancing and masks are required

Outdoor Event Venues

  • In phases 2 & 2.1, outdoor venues can operate at 25% capacity, social distancing and masks are required
  • In phase 3, outdoor venues can operate at 50% capacity, social distancing and masks are required

Religious Gatherings

  • In phase 2, religious gatherings are capped at 25% of the venue capacity with a max of 100 people indoors and 150 people outdoors
  • In phase 2.1, religious gatherings are limited to 50% capacity indoors with a max of 200 people. Outdoor gatherings are limited to the number of people that could be safely accommodated by the venue. Social distancing and masks are required for both indoor and outdoor gatherings
  • In phase 3, religious gatherings are limited to 50% capacity indoors with a max of 200 people. Outdoor gatherings are also limited to 50% capacity, however, there is no limit for venues that can maintain social distancing and masks are required

For a full overview of how Connecticut’s industries can operate in each phase click here

To see which the most up to date guidance for Connecticut sectors click here

Illinois

In order to combat and control C19 outbreaks, during July of 2020 the state of Illinois developed the ‘Restore Illinois Plan’ which is made up of 5 phases. The phases demonstrate the overall journey back to normality meaning ‘Phase 1’ is the mass spread of C19 and ‘Phase 5’ is a full return to normal.

The state of Illinois is currently in ‘Phase 4’ of the ‘Restore Illinois Plan’ which has the following industry operational/occupancy restrictions:

Bars & Restaurants

  • All bars and restaurants are allowed to operate with parties of up to 10 people
  • There should be 6ft between seating areas and barriers in areas with less than 6ft between
  • Standing areas (in restaurants or bars) should be limited to no more than 25% of standing area capacity
  • Businesses are encouraged to convert standing areas into seated areas to limit patrons from moving throughout the premise

Offices

  • Offices can operate with a maximum occupancy of 50%
  • Physical meetings of up to 50 people with social distancing permitted
  • A full return for non-essential workers with IDPH approved safety guidance. Businesses have been encouraged to provide accommodation for their vulnerable employees

Health & Fitness

  • All fitness venues can operate at a maximum capacity of 50%
  • Group fitness classes of up to 50 people are allowed as long as social distancing of 6ft is followed. Multiple groups are permitted providing the venue has the space to accommodate full social distancing
  • All workout stations must be 6ft apart without barriers and 3ft apart with impermeable barriers between
  • Locker rooms and showers must be sanitised at least once an hour and ancillary accommodations (e.g., saunas, hot tubs, steam rooms) should remain closed 
  • All gyms must have 1 employee per every 4,000 sq. ft. to monitor social distancing and sanitize equipment between uses.

Illinois ‘Phase 4’ guidelines state there should be “employee health screenings upon entry into the workplace and mid-shift screenings for employees with shifts >5 hours” to read the full ‘Phase 4’ guidelines click here

You can also see Illinois ‘Regional Phase Dashboard’ to see a breakdown of which counties are under which phase.

Occupancy Rules In Canada

After the efforts of a wide-scale testing infrastructure being implemented, the Canadian government was under a large amount of pressure to get the outbreak under control. Which has led to Canada’s occupancy rules becoming a lot stricter.

Here’s how:

  • Indoor and outdoor dining at food establishments is prohibited.
  • Indoor organized events and social gatherings are not permitted, except with members of the same household.
  • Outdoor gatherings are permitted with 5 people or less with physical distancing.
  • Religious ceremonies, rites and services can have up to 10 people indoors or 10 people outdoors.
  • Meeting and event spaces are closed.

When outside of national lockdowns, there seems to be a freedom for businesses to continue as normal but to operate with social distancing in mind – resources for workplaces have been provided by the CCOHS (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety). 

Despite this, there is guidance and resources available by province or territory here which was delivered by the Public Health Agency of Canada

Occupancy Rules In Mexico

Restrictions on border travel (between the US and Mexico) surrounding tourism was expected. However, those travelling for work and education purposes across the border have not been affected.

In May 2020, the Mexican government rolled out a traffic light system to determine how businesses can operate based on their location. This system was provided to be clear on how many individuals are allowed in those kinds of venues.

GREATEST RISK

Red: Only essential economic activities are allowed. Hotels are only available to critical workers and occupancy is limited to 25%.

Orange: In addition to essential economic activities, companies of non-essential economic activities will be allowed to work with 30% of the personnel for their operation, always taking into account the maximum care measures for people with a greater risk of presenting serious disease of COVID-19, open public spaces will be opened with a reduced capacity.

Yellow: All work activities are allowed. Restaurants, personal care services, and lodging businesses may operate at 50% capacity. Cinemas, theatres, cultural facilities, malls, public parks, places of worship, and professional sports and gyms may operate at 35% capacity.

Green: All activities are allowed, considering the recommendations of safety distance.

LOWEST RISK

You can find the latest covid restriction information by Mexican state here

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