The province returned to the modified version of Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen on Wednesday, January 5 at 12:01 a.m. for at least 21 days (until January 26, 2022), subject to trends in public health and health system indicators in response to Omicron.  

As of Tuesday, January 4, Ontarians will need to provide their enhanced vaccine certificate with official QR code along with a piece of identification with their name and date of birth when visiting select businesses and organizations

The Town of Orangeville’s Economic Development & Culture/SBEC office continues to support our community during COVID-19. We have compiled a list of resources that may be helpful for local businesses. Contact us for further guidance in navigating the various programs and restrictions for your business. 

Operating and Re-opening Guidelines

Guidelines for businesses

The province returned to the modified version of Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen on Wednesday, January 5. For businesses, this means: 

  • 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.

  • 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 sport and recreational fitness facilities including gyms, except for athletes training for 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.

  • Closing indoor concert venues, theatres, cinemas, rehearsals and recorded performances permitted with restrictions.

  • Limiting capacity at organized public events to five people indoors.

  • Closing indoor meeting and event spaces with limited exceptions but permitting outdoor spaces to remain open with restrictions.

  • 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.

  • Requiring businesses and organizations to ensure employees work remotely unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site. 

Local businesses are encouraged to carefully review the sector-specific requirements outlined by the Province of Ontario to understand how they can safely operate. A Plan to Safely Reopen Ontario and Manage COVID-19 for the Long-Term includes information to help businesses prepare for the next stages of re-opening when permitted.

Extension of patio policy for licensed premises

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has extended the patio policy, which allows for the temporary physical extension of liquor licensed premises until January 1, 2023. The policy was previously set to expire January 1, 2022.

Under the patio policy, all eligible liquor sales licensees and holders of a By-the-Glass endorsement may add or temporarily extend their licensed premises without having to apply to the AGCO, provided that they meet certain criteria. One of the criteria is that the municipality in which the premises is located has indicated it does not object to an extension.

This patio policy extension will continue to provide flexibility and support to businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Proof of Vaccination

 Indoor 

You must provide your enhanced vaccine certificate with official QR code along with a piece of identification to enter indoor areas of:

  • restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments without dance facilities
  • food or drink establishments with dance facilities, including nightclubs, restoclubs and other similar establishments, and outdoor areas of these establishments
  • meeting and event spaces (with limited exceptions)
  • facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities and personal physical fitness training (with limited exemptions), including:
    • gyms
    • fitness, sporting and recreational facilities
    • pools
    • leagues
    • sporting events
    • waterparks
    • indoor areas of facilities where spectators watch events
  • casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments
  • concert venues, theatres and cinemas
  • horse racing tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues
  • commercial film and TV productions where there is a studio audiences

 Outdoor

You must provide your enhanced vaccine certificate with official QR code along with a piece of identification to enter:
  • any of the following outdoor areas that have a normal capacity of 20,000 or more people:
    • outdoor meeting and event spaces (with limited exemptions)
    • outdoor facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities, including waterparks and personal physical fitness training (with limited exemptions)
      • Includes gyms, fitness/sporting/recreational facilities, pools, leagues, sporting events, waterparks, and indoor areas of facilities where spectators watch events
    • outdoor concert venues, theatres and cinemas
  • outdoor horse racing tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues
  • outdoor areas of food or drink establishments with dance facilities, including nightclubs, restoclubs and other similar establishments, and indoor areas of these establishments

 Exceptions

You do not have to show your proof of vaccination certificate, proof of medical exemption or proof of participation in a vaccine trial if you are:

  • 12 years and (84 days) 12 weeks of age or younger
    • Beginning December 20, 2021, proof of vaccination will be required for anyone 12 years of age and older participating in organized sports at recreational facilities.
  • entering a business temporarily to:
    • use a washroom
    • access an outdoor area that you can only get to by going indoors
    • make a retail purchase
    • place, pick up or pay for an order
    • make a bet or pick up winnings at a racing track
    • purchase admission
  • entering the business for health and safety purposes

Aligned with current public health measures, indoor masking policies will continue to remain in place. 

Vaccine certification process

Should an individual choose not to share the required information then, unless the Reopening Ontario Act otherwise exempts them from this requirement, they will not be permitted to enter those businesses or organizations that require proof. In order to enter the business and organization, with limited exceptions:

  • The patron must provide the required proof of identification and proof of being fully vaccinated, and;
  • The business and organization must review and confirm the proof.

Guidelines for Ontario’s Businesses, Services and Public Spaces 

Workplace guidelines

Businesses must follow local public health measures and workplace guidelines published by the Province of Ontario. At minimum, all businesses that are permitted to open must:

  • actively screen employees (COVID-19 screening tool)
  • post signs at all entrances informing people how to screen themselves for COVID-19 before entering (COVID-19 Signage Questions for Businesses and Organizations)
  • limit capacity so guests can stay at least 2 metres apart
  • make sure anyone indoors wears a mask or face covering, including workers who have to come within 2 metres of anyone else (with some exceptions)
  • make sure workers use personal protective equipment (PPE) that protects their eyes, nose and mouth when they have to come within 2 metres of anyone who is not wearing a mask or face covering or separated by plexiglass
  • clean and disinfect often-touched surfaces
  • manage line ups to make sure customers are at least two metres apart wearing face coverings or masks
  • create a safety plan, post it in a place where workers and patrons will see it  and have it available upon request

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has launched an online customizable tool kit resource to help workplaces across Canada operate safely and prevent the spread of infection during the COVID-19 pandemic. Anchored by the COVID-19: Workplace Health and Safety Guide, the online hub provides one-stop access to more than 40 free resources to reduce the spread and protect everyone in the workplace.

 Face coverings

The Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health Unit has issued specific requirements for local businesses including an order for mandatory face coverings in commercial establishments. On October 2, the province of Ontario mandated the use of face coverings in all public indoor settings across the province, such as businesses, facilities and workplaces, with limited exemptions. The Town of Orangeville has passed a by-law to extend enforcement of face covering requirements to local by-law and police officers. 

Financing and Cash Flow Support

Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP)

Through the Business Credit Availability Program, Economic Development Canada (EDC) is working with financial institutions to provide financing and loans to impacted businesses. A variety of programs are available. Learn more at canada.ca.

Electricity rate relief support

The Ontario government is providing electricity rate relief to support small businesses while the province is in Modified Step Two. For 21 days, starting at 12:01 am on Tuesday, January 18, 2022, electricity prices will be set 24 hours 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. 

Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program (HHBRP)

Businesses, charities, or non-profits in Canada who do not qualify for the Tourism & Hospitality Recovery Program but have faced deep losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, may be eligible for a wage subsidy, a rent subsidy, or both through the Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program

To qualify for the HHBRP, businesses must meet the following two conditions:

  • have a 12-month average revenue drop from March 2020 to February 2021 of at least 50%
  • have a claim period revenue drop of at least 50%

Subsidy rates start at 10% for eligible organizations with a 50% current-month revenue decline to a maximum rate of 50% (for those with a current-month revenue decline of 75% or higher). Find eligibility requirements and calculate subsidy rates here.

Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP)

Businesses heavily impacted by COVID-19 may be able to access guaranteed, low-interest loans of $25,000 to $1 million to cover operational cash flow needs through HASCAP. 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. Businesses can determine their HASCAP eligibility by contacting their primary financial institution. The program has been extended to March 31, 2022.

Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program (OBCRP)

The Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program will provide eligible businesses that are required to close or reduce capacity with rebate payments for up to 100 per cent of the property tax and energy costs they incur while subject to public health measures in response to the Omicron variant.

Eligible businesses that were required to close for indoor activities, such as restaurants and gyms, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 100 per cent of their costs. Those required to reduce capacity to 50 per cent, such as smaller retail stores, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 50 per cent of their costs. 

A full list of eligible business types will be available through a program guide in mid-January 2022. Online applications for this program will open January 18, 2022. Learn more at ontario.ca 

Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant

The Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant provides a $10,000 grant to eligible businesses that are subject to closure under the modified Step Two of Roadmap to Reopen.

To receive the grant, a small business must:

  • be required to close due to public health orders that took effect 12:01 a.m. on January 5, 2022
  • have fewer than 100 employees

Eligible small businesses include:

  • restaurants and bars
  • facilities for indoor sports and recreational fitness activities (including fitness centres and gyms)
  • performing arts venues 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

Newly established and newly eligible small businesses will need to apply once the application portal opens in the coming weeks. Businesses that previously qualified for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant will be pre-screened to verify eligibility and will not need to apply for the new program. Find details at ontario.ca.

Ontario Together Fund (OTF)

The objective of the Ontario Together Fund (OTF) is to provide funding to firms and organizations for projects that support Ontario’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic and/or Ontario’s preparedness for future public health emergencies. The OTF focuses on supporting manufacturing and innovation that helps combat COVID-19 and provides goods and services critical to the health, safety, and security of Ontarians. Find eligibility requirements and full details here. The program is available until March 31, 2022.

Provincially administered tax deferrals 

The Government of Ontario is 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. This will:
  • support businesses in the immediate term while capacity restrictions are in place
  • provide the flexibility Ontario businesses will need for long-term planning

This measure will provide up to $7.5 billion in relief to help approximately 80,000 Ontario businesses. Businesses will have the option to delay their payments for the following provincially administered 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

The six-month period will begin on January 1, 2022 and end on July 1, 2022. Learn more at ontario.ca.

Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP)

Businesses, charities or non-profits in Canada who has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,  may be eligible for a wage subsidy, a rent subsidy, or both through the the Tourism & Hospitality Recovery Program.

Business that may qualify include:

  • those that are part of the tourism, hospitality, arts, entertainment, or recreation sectors, or
  • those affected by a qualifying public health restriction

The subsidy rate starts at 40% for eligible organizations with a 40% current-month revenue decline to a maximum rate of 75% (for those with a current-month revenue decline of 75% or higher). Find eligibility requirements and calculate subsidy rates here.

Those businesses that do not qualify under the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program but are still facing significant losses may be eligible for the Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program

Tourism Relief Fund

The Tourism Relief Fund supports tourism businesses and organizations to adapt their operations to meet public health requirements while investing in products and services to facilitate their future growth. 

To be eligible for funding, applicants must be:

  • A key supplier/operator in the visitor experience
  • Part of a defined tourism cluster or tourism-dependent community
  • An anchor product or service in a destination

Eligible projects include two themes:

  • Product development/development and enhancement of tourism experiences 
  • Destination development

Funding available for for-profit businesses could be either:

  • non-repayable contributions under $100,000 (rate of assistance of 50% of eligible costs) or
  • fully repayable contributions up to $500,000 (rate of assistance of 75% of eligible costs)

For not-for-profit organizations and Indigenous entities (not generating profits), contributions will normally be non‑repayable:

  • project contribution amounts would not normally exceed $500,000
  • the actual contribution amount will be based on the minimum amount required to carry out the project

Find full details, project examples, and application requirements at feddevontario.gc.ca.

Workforce Retention and Support

Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP)

The Canada Recovery Hiring Program helps employers hire the workers they need so that the economy can fully recover more quickly. Eligible employers could receive a subsidy to cover part of their wages as they hire new employees and increase existing employees' wages or hours. Find eligibility requirements and apply online at canada.ca.

Jobs and Growth Fund (JGF)

The Jobs and Growth Fund (JGF) provides assistance to help create jobs and position local economies for long-term growth. Valued at $700 million nationally over three years, JGF is being delivered by Canada’s regional development agencies (RDAs) to help job creators to future-proof, build resiliency and prepare for growth by adopting clean technology, increasing diversity, implementing new digital technologies and strengthening capacity in critical sectors. This includes up to $70 million in funding dedicated to supporting businesses created after January 2020 that meet the eligibility criteria.

Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit

Paid infectious disease emergency leave requires employers to provide employees with up to three days of paid infectious disease emergency leave because of certain reasons related to COVID-19. This entitlement is in addition to employees' rights to unpaid infectious disease emergency leave. Find details at ontario.ca.

Recovery Benefits and Employment Insurance (EI)

The Government of Canada announced changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) program and new recovery benefits to support Canadians. Those not eligible for EI, may be eligible for one of these programs:

  • Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit
  • Canada Recovery Sickness Benefits
  • Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit