Open Houses Now Permitted Under New COVID-19 Guidelines

Oakville, ON, FEBRUARY 1, 2022 – As of January 31, Ontario entered the first step of the provincial government’s three-step approach to gradually lifting public health and workplace safety measures that were imposed earlier this month in an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

What these changes mean for OMDREB REALTORS:

Impact on Real Estate Brokerages

The legal requirement to work from home except where necessary has been lifted by the province and capacity inside a real estate business is limited to the lesser of 50% capacity or the number of people that can maintain physical distancing of 2 metres.

Real estate open houses

Open houses are once again permitted. The new government approach provides for two options for real estate registrants hosting open houses.

    If REALTORS choose NOT to require proof of vaccination from visitors entering an open house:

    • The person responsible for “any open house events” and the real estate agency who “hosts, provides or supports” to limit the number of people at the open house by ensuring every person can maintain physical distancing of 2 metres.
    • REALTORS are obligated to operate the open house in accordance with the recommendations and instructions of public health officials, such as those related to cleaning and disinfection.
    • REALTORS are required to comply with the requirements for posting the mandated signs, actively screening people prior to entry, requiring mask or face coverings, manage outdoor queuing and to have posted in a visible place a written safety plan that contains the measures which have been implemente to reduce transmission risk.
    • If REALTORS choose to require proof of vaccination status from visitors entering an open house, then the government’s restrictions for capacity limits and physical distancing no longer apply. All parties are still required to wear a mask. Ontario has created the Verify Ontario App ( for businesses and REALTORS to scan COVID-19 proof of vaccination at entry.

To be clear, the new open house rules do not make it mandatory for REALTORS to ask for proof of vaccination when entering an open house after 12:01 am on January 31st, 2022. Instead, the new rules provide two options for REALTORS hosting open houses. Members should work with their sellers to determine which option meets the best interests of their clients.

OMDREB encourages members to take every effort to keep themselves and their clients safe while participating in an open house and other in-person activities.

These efforts include:

  • Use technology when possible. Virtual showings and electronic signatures continue to be good ways to limit contact if deemed necessary.
  • Request self-screening of COVID-19. Post signage on the property entryway door stating that if people have been ill, have symptoms of COVID-19, have come in contact with a person with symptoms or a confirmed case of COVID-19 they should not enter the home.
  • Required PPE use. Ensure masks or face coverings are worn inside at all times. Consider providing this PPE outside the entrance of the residence. Municipalities may have by-laws regarding the use of masks where business is being conducted. Be sure to review any such by-laws in your municipality.
  • Manage the flow of traffic. If a line forms outside, people should be staggered 6′ apart. Consider signage or markers to this effect. In the home, plan and direct safe traffic flow by considering an alternate exit to the entrance and posting signage informing guests of the traffic flow through the home. Have an assistant manage physical distancing outside and inside the home and for people registering. While a showing is in progress, place a sign on the door to indicate that and ask other guests to wait in a queue.
  • Sanitize hands before and after. Provide hand sanitizer at the door and require guests to disinfect before entry.
  • Ensure proper ventilation. Where possible, ensure that the property’s AC unit has been turned on, or open windows to ventilate the space.
  • Enforce ‘no touching’ rules. Open all the interior doors and closet doors and turn on lights so that any open house visits can be completed without touching these surfaces. The listing REALTOR should be available to open cabinets, storage spaces, blinds, etc.
  • Sanitize. Disinfect surfaces, door handles and parts of the house that guests come in close contact with both before and after the open house.
  • Protocols for multi-tenanted properties. For multi-tenanted properties like condominiums, discuss with the seller whether building management has any COVID-19 safety protocols to be aware of and incorporate those into your plan. Also, enlist the help of an assistant to manage entry to the building and other common areas, and ensure physical distancing can be maintained between consumers in common areas.