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Ontario Temporary Moving to a Modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen
In response to recent trends that show an alarming increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is temporarily moving the province into Step Two of its Roadmap to Reopen with modifications that take into account the province’s successful vaccination efforts.
Unlike other variants throughout the pandemic, evolving data is showing that while the Omicron variant is less severe, its high transmissibility has resulted in a larger number of hospital admissions relative to ICU admissions. Staff absenteeism is also expected to rise and affect operations in workplaces across Ontario due to Omicron infection and exposure, including in hospitals and schools.
In response, the province will return to the modified version of Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen effective Wednesday, January 5, 2022 at 12:01 a.m. for at least 21 days (until January 26, 2022), subject to trends in public health and health system indicators.
These measures include:
- Reducing social gathering limits to five people indoors and 10 people outdoors.
- Limiting capacity at organized public events to five people indoors.
- Requiring businesses and organizations to ensure employees work remotely unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site.
- Limiting capacity at indoor weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites and ceremonies to 50 per cent capacity of the particular room. Outdoor services are limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres of physical distance. Social gatherings associated with these services must adhere to the social gathering limits.
- Retail settings, including shopping malls, permitted at 50 per cent capacity. For shopping malls physical distancing will be required in line-ups, loitering will not be permitted and food courts will be required to close.
- Personal care services permitted at 50 per cent capacity and other restrictions. Saunas, steam rooms, and oxygen bars closed.
- Closing indoor meeting and event spaces with limited exceptions but permitting outdoor spaces to remain open with restrictions.
- Public libraries limited to 50 per cent capacity.
- Closing indoor dining at restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments. Outdoor dining with restrictions, takeout, drive through and delivery is permitted.
- Restricting the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. and the consumption of alcohol on-premise in businesses or settings after 11 p.m. with delivery and takeout, grocery/convenience stores and other liquor stores exempted.
- Closing indoor concert venues, theatres, cinemas, rehearsals and recorded performances permitted with restrictions.
- Closing museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions, amusement parks and waterparks, tour and guide services and fairs, rural exhibitions, and festivals. Outdoor establishments permitted to open with restrictions and with spectator occupancy, where applicable, limited to 50 per cent capacity.
- Closing indoor horse racing tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues. Outdoor establishments permitted to open with restrictions and with spectator occupancy limited to 50 per cent capacity. Boat tours permitted at 50 per cent capacity.
- Closing indoor sport and recreational fitness facilities including gyms, except for athletes training for the Olympics and Paralympics and select professional and elite amateur sport leagues. Outdoor facilities are permitted to operate but with the number of spectators not to exceed 50 per cent occupancy and other requirements.
- All publicly funded and private schools will move to remote learning starting January 5 until at least January 17, subject to public health trends and operational considerations.
- School buildings would be permitted to open for child care operations, including emergency child care, to provide in-person instruction for students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated remotely and for staff who are unable to deliver quality instruction from home.
- During this period of remote learning, free emergency child care will be provided for school-aged children of health care and other eligible frontline workers.
Please view the regulation for the full list of mandatory public health and workplace safety measures.
NEW - Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant
As part of a comprehensive plan to support workers and businesses, the government is announcing an Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant for small businesses that are subject to closure under the modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen. It will provide eligible small businesses with a grant payment of $10,000.
Eligible small businesses include:
- Restaurants and bars;
- Facilities for indoor sports and recreational fitness activities (including fitness centres and gyms);
- Performing arts and cinemas;
- Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions;
- Meeting or event spaces;
- Tour and guide services;
- Conference centres and convention centres;
- Driving instruction for individuals; and
- Before- and after- school programs.
Eligible businesses that qualified for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant and that are subject to closure under modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen will be pre-screened to verify eligibility and will not need to apply to the new program. Newly established and newly eligible small businesses will need to apply once the application portal opens in the coming weeks. Small businesses that qualify can expect to receive their payment in February.
The Ontario government is also providing electricity-rate relief for 21-days starting on January 18, 2022 at 12:01am. Electricity prices will be set 24hrs a day at the current off-peak rate of 8.2 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is less than half the cost of the current on-peak rate. The off-peak rate will apply automatically.
NEW - Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program (OBCRP)
Ontario Expands Rebates for Property Tax and Energy Costs to support businesses that are most impacted by provincial public health measures. The program will support eligible businesses that are required to close or reduce capacity due to recently announced public health measures.
Through the new (and now expanded) Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program, eligible businesses will receive rebate payments for a portion of the property tax and energy costs they incur while subject to capacity limits. The rebate amount will be 50% up to 100% of these costs depending on the degree to which the business is subject to public health restrictions:
- Eligible businesses required to reduce capacity to 50%, such as smaller retail stores, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 50% of their property tax and energy costs.
- Eligible businesses required to close for indoor activities, such as restaurants and gyms, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 100% of their costs.
Full eligibility details will be available in mid-January. Online applications for this program will open on January 18, 2022 with payments to eligible businesses provided retroactive to December 19, 2021. Businesses will be required to submit property tax and energy bills as part of the application process.
Cash-flow Supports for Businesses Through Tax Deferrals
Six-month Interest- and Penalty-free Period
Effective January 1, 2022, the province is also providing additional support to help improve cash flows for Ontario businesses by providing a six-month interest- and penalty-free period to make payments for most provincially administered taxes.
Businesses have the option to delay payments on the following provincial taxes:
- Employer Health Tax
- Beer, Wine & Spirits Taxes
- Tobacco Tax
- Insurance Premium Tax
- Fuel Tax
- International Fuel Tax Agreement
- Gas Tax
- Retail Sales Tax on Insurance Contracts & Benefit Plans
- Mining Tax
- Race Tracks Tax
Federal Government Expanding Eligibility for the Local Lockdown Program and the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit
As the Omicron variant spreads and new regional public health restriction are put in place to limit capacity, the government is proposing to temporarily expand the Local Lockdown Program to better support workers and businesses. Under current rules, employers must face a lockdown to be eligible for the program. The government intends to use regulatory authority approved by Parliament in Bill C-2 to temporarily amend this requirement so employers can also qualify for the program if they are subject to a capacity-limiting public health restriction.
The government is temporarily expanding the Local Lockdown Program such that a business can now also qualify if:
- one or more of its locations is subject to a public health order that has the effect of reducing the entity's capacity at the location by 50 per cent or more, and
- activities restricted by the public health order accounted for at least 50 per cent of the entity's total qualifying revenues during the prior reference period.
In addition, the government intends to temporarily lower the current-month revenue loss threshold from 40 per cent to 25 per cent. Employers would continue to need to demonstrate current-month losses only, without the requirement for a historical 12-month revenue decline.
Ontario to Require Proof of Vaccination in Certain Settings
Starting September 22, 2021, Ontarians will need to be fully vaccinated (two doses plus 14 days) and provide their proof of vaccination, along with photo ID, to access certain public settings and facilities. The focus of this mandate will be on higher-risk public settings where face coverings cannot always be worn. This includes:
- Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios, as well as delivery and takeout);
- Nightclubs (including outdoor areas of the establishment);
- Meeting and event spaces, such as banquet halls and conference/convention centres;
- Facilities used for sports and fitness activities and personal fitness training, such as gyms, fitness and recreational facilities with the exception of youth recreational sport;
- Sporting events;
- Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments;
- Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas;
- Strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs;
- Racing venues (e.g., horse racing).
To assist businesses, a specific guidance document has been produced by the Government of Ontario to assist with the proof of vaccination regulation. You may also wish to review the full Regulations regarding this mandate.
Individuals who cannot receive the vaccine due to medical exemptions will be permitted entry with a doctor’s note until recognized medical exemptions can be integrated as part of a digital vaccine certificate. Children who are 11 years of age and younger and unable to be vaccinated will also be exempted from these requirements.
Ontario will develop and provide additional tools to improve user experience, efficiency and business supports in the coming weeks, including establishing alternative tools for people with no email, health card or ID.
Ontarians currently have access to a paper or PDF vaccine receipt that includes all relevant information to prove that they are fully vaccinated. As of September 22, Ontarians will be required to show their vaccine receipt when entering designated settings along with another piece of photo identification, such as a driver’s licence or health card.
Ontario will also introduce an enhanced digital vaccine receipt that features a QR code, which is safe, more secure, and with you wherever you go. This digital vaccine receipt can be kept on a phone and easily used to show that you've been vaccinated if you need to. In addition, the province will launch a new app to make it easier and more convenient for businesses and organizations to read and verify that a digital vaccine receipt is valid, while protecting your privacy.
For questions about how to access vaccination records, Ontarians can contact the Provincial Vaccine Information Line at 1-888-999-6488.
For additional funding and support, scroll down on this page to the "Government Programs" section below.
Navigating Government Business Support Programs
Find out more about the programs, services, and funding opportunities you business may be eligible for during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) Guarantee
Businesses heavily impacted by COVID-19 can access guaranteed, low-interest loans of $25,000 to $1 million to cover operational cash flow needs. These loans are for small and medium-sized businesses that have seen their revenues decrease by 50% or more as a result of COVID-19.
Apply through your primary financial institution.
Regional Relief & Recovery Fund
The Fund supports businesses impacted by COVID-19 through COVID Relief Loans
Additional funding became available through this program in late 2020, applications are now being accepted through the Thousand Islands Community Development Corporation
- Community Futures: This stream supports businesses in rural and smaller communities through additional funding for the existing Community Futures Program (CFP).
In order to provide targeted assistance to the small towns and communities they serve, CFDCs, who will deliver this stream of funding, will focus on assisting “main street” businesses, such as retail shops, restaurants and corner stores, etc., and businesses of strategic importance to their communities, with loans up to $40,000.
Please apply directly through our local CDC for funding through this stream.
For full eligibility criteria and additional information, please visit FedDev Ontario’s RRRF page.
Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Subsidy
Canadian businesses, non-profit organizations, or charities who have seen a drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of their commercial rent or property expenses.
Small and Medium Sized Enterprise Loan
The Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program (supported through Export Development Canada and the Business Development Bank), for guaranteed loans when small businesses go to their financial institutions to help weather the impacts of COVID-19:
- Small and medium-sized businesses can also get support through a new Co-Lending Program that will bring the Business Development Bank of Canada together with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to these businesses for their operational cash flow requirements. Eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts of up to $6.25 million through the program, which will be risk-shared at 80% between the Business Development Bank of Canada and the financial institutions. Eligible financial institutions will conduct the underwriting and funding directly for customers.
Canada Recovery Benefits
Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (for those unable to work because of the pandemic due to caring for a child or family member who needs supervised care)
Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (For employed or self-employed individuals who are sick or need to self-isolate due to the pandemic)
For more benefits from the Federal Government, please visit their Economic Response Plan page.
Additional Resources for Small Businesses
Find out more about programs specifically for small businesses beyond the government supports found in the section above.
Provincial Supports for Small Businesses
Need help figuring out which programs you are eligible for?
For assistance with grants and to learn about other supports that may be available for your business, please contact:
Manager of Business Engagement & Partnerships, City of Brockville
Leeds Grenville Small Business Enterprise Centre
Their office is currently closed to the public, but staff are available to take phone or zoom calls with clients.
Call 613-342-0040 or email Jeanette at firstname.lastname@example.org
It is now more important than ever to support local businesses who are trying to stay afloat during the pandemic. While many retailers have had to close their doors due to the provincial emergency proclamation, many are making a shift, where possible, to change the way that they do business by offering online or phone orders with delivery.
Please join us in supporting our local businesses by continuing to shop from them during these times, or by purchasing a gift card from them to use after things return to normal to help them with their immediate cash flow. You can also support your favourite local businesses by purchasing gift certificates to use after the pandemic from one central site: https://www.fansaveshelps.ca/collections/brockville (businesses are joining daily, so if you don't see the business you are looking for on here, please check back, or let that business know that you were trying to find them!)
Downtown Brockville (DBIA) has a list of downtown businesses that have moved to online shopping or phone ordering, as well as other businesses that are able to remain open at this time. You can find their list (updated regularly) on the Downtown Brockville website at www.downtownbrockville.com/for-the-public.php
Local Restaurants offering take out/delivery
Restaurants throughout the pandemic have been permitted to continue to operate provided that they move to take out and delivery only. The Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit requires that food establishments offering takeout and delivery practice “social distancing” of six feet, or 2.5 metres, between customers. Please click here to read the new precautionary measures in place for food premises by the Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit.
If you operate a restaurant in Brockville, you may be interested in our upcoming Picnic Box summer program
Read more information on our upcoming initiative to support local restaurants this summer. This program will launch in July 2021.
Grocery and Pharmacy options while in isolation
If you are in isolation or are concerned about your susceptibility to the virus, we have put together a list of grocery stores, pharmacies, and a few services for seniors offering pick-up, delivery, or dedicated shopping times. If you know of any other options that we should include, please let us know.
Business Continuity Plans
Planning how you will sustain your business as we advance through the pandemic is an important consideration for the days ahead. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, and the Business Development Bank of Canada have great resources on what you need to consider and how you can protect and maintain your staffing levels.
- Canadian Chamber of Commerce Pandemic Preparedness for Business
- CCOHS Business Continuity Plan for Infectious Diseases
- bdc Business Continuity Plan and Templates for Entrepreneurs
Template: COVID-19 Safety Plan (Word Document) - use this template from the Provincial Government to document how your organization will keep workers and other people safe at your workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Government of Canada
The Provincial Government
The help from businesses and organizations who can supply emergency products and innovative solutions to support the response to COVID-19.
- Supplies: If your business or organization can provide medical products such as ventilators, swabs, masks and eye protection: Tell us what you have
- Innovation: If your business or organization can help communities withstand the pandemic and you have a solution for:
- virtual mental health services for people who are vulnerable or living in remote communities
- supply chain resiliency monitoring
- financial planning and advising for small businesses that can be delivered online at low-cost including advice about relief programs and how to apply
- Tell us your solution
Ideas: If your business or organization has ideas, other products or services that could help Ontarians: Tell us your idea
Please visit the Ontario supply request website for more information and to apply.
Business Reopening Supports
Toll Free Business Information Line: 1-888-444-3659
The province has launched a toll-free line 1-888-444-3659 to provide support to Ontario businesses who have questions about the province's recent emergency order to close at-risk workplaces following recommendations by Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Businesses who have questions about closures of at-risk workplaces or how emergency measures impact their business or employment can call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.
Help is available Monday-Friday from 8:30am-9:00pm and Saturday & Sunday from 8:30am-5:00pm
Guidance Documents for Workplaces
In partnership with the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, the health and safety associations have released a series of more than 100 technical sector guidance documents to further support employers and employees in remaining safe in the workplace during the COVID-19 outbreak. They have also produced a general "return to business check list" that is applicable to most businesses, indicating the areas that should be considered before reopening.
Local Resources to Assist with your Business Reopening
City Staff have compiled a resource guide to assist you as you prepare to reopen that includes relevant government links and resources such as sector guidance documents, best practices, government approved disinfectants and hand sanitizers, workplace posters, and a list of suppliers to help you outfit your workplace with the necessary signage, personal protective equipment, and cleaning agents you will need to reopen safely. Please click here to visit our Preparing your Business to Reopen Safely page to find the resource guide and additional information pertaining to reopening safely.
Tackling the Barriers online portal
- Assist the health care system meet the needs of needs of the emergency
- Assist businesses in retooling or producing essential or health-related products and supplies
- Make it easier for businesses trying to operate remotely or in a non-traditional fashion and are facing unexpected challenges
News releases and information related to the COVID-19 outbreak from the Government of Ontario can be found on the official Ontario Newsroom website. Checking their page regularly is a good way to stay up to date on decisions and new regulations that may apply to your business.
Please click here to access relevant staff in our City Departments: https://brockville.com/departments