Open Amenities during COVID – Letter to the Editor

July 2021

Are you aware of any condominium buildings that have their amenities in operation regardless of COVID?

It’s “highly recommended” by the Ontario public health department to close all amenities, not mandatory.

Your prompt reply is much appreciated.


Response from Toronto Condo News

The short answer to your question is “yes” although I wouldn’t suggest this is “regardless of COVID”.

Condominium corporations are private residences not subject to regulations covering public spaces, except in rare instances, and this is for good reason.  Doing so would make them less desirable as a residence if amenities were treated as public spaces rather than extensions of personal living space.  This is a difficult environment for condo boards to navigate as our reactions to COVID are based more on fear rather than reliable information.

Amenities cover a range of offerings including exercise space, swimming pool, card room, reading room, playground, terrace and barbecue area.  Size and configuration of spaces vary.  Clearly, a one-size-fits-all approach makes no sense.

What we’ve seen is amenity access being handled in one of two ways:

  • Full closure of amenities. No access by residents even when physical distancing and enhanced cleaning protocols are easy to implement and consistent with government or health directives.  In these communities the willingness of boards to act within their mandate and to reflect the varied interests of owners is unclear.  Some condo boards have implemented more stringent policies than mandated and exceeding their authority.  One wonders if these boards operate in a similar manner on a regular basis.
  • Selective access to amenities consistent with government and health requirements. This means limiting the number of individuals accessing certain spaces.  There may be enhanced cleaning protocols, and possibly providing disinfecting spray or wipes as appropriate.  Of course, those uncomfortable with this approach can continue to avoid these spaces.

Dealing with COVID in high-rise communities is no doubt a challenge for condo boards and management struggling to balance their obligations, authority and personal beliefs.