Ontario is currently in Step Three of its Roadmap to Reopen, a three-step plan to reopen the province and gradually lift public health measures. The province moved to Step Three on Friday, July 16 at 12:01 a.m. 

Beginning Wednesday, September 22, Ontarians will need to be fully vaccinated and provide their proof of vaccination along with photo ID to access certain businesses and facilities. The province increased the capacity limits for select indoor and outdoor settings where proof of vaccination is required on Saturday, September 25 at 12:01 a.m.

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 for businesses

The province entered Step Three of the Roadmap to Reopen on Friday, July 16 at 12:01 a.m. For businesses, this means: 

  • Essential and non-essential retail open with capacity limited to permit physical distancing of 2 metres, with no restrictions on the goods that can be sold

  • Personal care services, including services that require the removal of a face covering, with capacity limited to permit physical distancing of 2 metres and other restrictions

  • Indoor and outdoor dining with capacity limited to permit physical distancing of 2 metres and other restrictions, with no limits on the number of people per table

  • Indoor fitness classes and personal training permitted, with maximum capacity of 50% and other restrictions

  • Guidelines for other businesses and organizations can be found at ontario.ca

Effective September 25, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., capacity limits increased in many indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required as well as in certain outdoor event venues. For businesses, this means:

  • Meeting and event spaces, such as banquet halls and conference/convention centres; sporting events; concerts, theatres and cinemas; racing venues (e.g., horse racing); and commercial and film television productions with studio audiences will be increased to up to 50% capacity or 10,000 people (whichever is less) for indoor events

  • For certain outdoor event venues where patrons stand, capacity limits will increase to up to 75% capacity or 15,000 people (whichever is less)
  • For certain outdoor event venues where patrons are seated, capacity limits will be increased to up to 75% capacity or 30,000 people (whichever is less). 

Local businesses are encouraged to carefully review the sector-specific requirements outlined by the Province of Ontario to understand how they can safely operate. The Roadmap to Reopen plan includes information to help businesses prepare for the next stages of re-opening when permitted.

 Proof of vaccination in select settings

As of 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. This approach focuses on higher-risk indoor public settings where face coverings cannot always be worn and 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

  • Racing venues (e.g., horse racing)

  • Certain outdoor settings that have a normal maximum capacity of 20,000 people or more


You do not have to show proof of vaccination if you:

  • access the indoor areas of certain specified settings solely to:

    • enter as may be necessary health and safety purposes

    • use a washroom
    • access an outdoor area that can only be accessed through an indoor route
    • make a retail purchase
    • place, pick up or pay for an order
    • make a bet or pick up winnings at a racing track
    • purchase an admission
  • enter as may be necessary health and safety purposes
  • are under age 12

  • are under age 18 and entering the indoor premises of a sports or recreational facility solely for the purpose of actively participating in an organized sport

  • have a valid document from a physician or nurse practitioner saying you have a medical exemption from full vaccination

Aligned with public health measures currently in place, 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.

For a limited time period (on or after September 22, 2021 but before October 13, 2021), for indoor social gatherings associated with weddings and funerals (in meeting and event spaces) the negative result of a COVID-19 antigen test may be provided instead of proof of being fully vaccinated.

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

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.

 Ontario Tourism Recovery Program (OTRP)

The Ontario Tourism Recovery Program (OTRP) supports eligible, Ontario-based, tourism businesses in the for-profit attractions, accommodations and transportation sectors that have been hardest hit by COVID-19.

Program funding will help successful applicants prepare to re-open safely, develop adaptative and innovative tourism products, retain and create tourism jobs, and support tourism recovery in their region and throughout Ontario. Successful applicants will be able to use funding for expenditures such as:

  • reopening and operating expenses, such as staff salaries and maintenance

  • health and safety measures to support the safety of visitors and workers

  • attracting visitors through tourism product and experience improvements and marketing

As part of this program’s eligibility criteria, applicants must have experienced a loss of at least 50 per cent of eligible revenue in 2020-21 compared to 2019. The program’s funding formula uses a percentage of qualifying revenue losses and salary and wage expenditures to determine the maximum potential award amount. Funding decisions will also take into consideration the significance of the applicant’s business to its local tourism region. 

For more information on eligibility and how to apply visit ontario.ca. Applications will be accepted until November 10, 2021.

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.

Highly Affected Sectors Credits 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 December 31, 2021.

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.

Workforce Retention and Support

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) 

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) enables employers to re-hire workers, prevent further job losses, and ease back into normal operations. Canadian employers who have seen a drop in revenue due to COVID-19 may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of employee wages, retroactive to March 15, 2020. The CEWS has been extended to October 23, 2021.

Complete the CEWS calculator to determine if your business is eligible. 

 Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP)

The Canada Recovery Hiring Program helps eligible employers hire the workers they need so that the economy can fully recover more quickly. Eligible employers could receive a subsidy of up to 50 per cent of incremental remuneration paid to eligible active employees between June 6, 2021, and November 20, 2021.

 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 Recovery Benefit
  • Canada Recovery Sickness Benefits
  • Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit

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.

 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.

Rent Relief

The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) provides simple and easy-to-access rent and mortgage support for qualifying organizations, starting on September 27, 2020 until October 23, 2021. The new rent subsidy is available directly to qualifying renters and property owners, without requiring the participation of landlords. The CERS supports businesses, charities, and non-profits that have suffered a revenue drop by covering a portion of eligible expenses, subject to certain maximums. To learn how to apply and calculate your subsidy, visit canada.ca

General Resources

Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

Province of Ontario’s COVID-19 Resources and Programs

Province of Ontario's Small Business Recovery Resources

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) services, due dates and programs

Town of Orangeville Business Recovery Plan