- Dr. Hirji, Niagara Region's acting Medical Officer of Health, is suspending enforcement of section 8 of Niagara's Section 22 order - the requirement to ensure patrons seated at different tables are separated by a distance of at least two metres or plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier for all indoor dining spaces. Maximizing distance between tables remains strongly encouraged, but is voluntary.
Dr. Hirji also advised Public Health will continue to enforce a requirement for two metres distance or barriers for outdoor dining since clients dining outdoors are exempt from vaccine certification requirements.
NIagara's Section 22
- Restaurants, bars and gyms can welcome more customers starting today!
As of October 25, the province has lifted capacity limits in the vast majority of settings where proof of vaccination is required, such as restaurants and bars, gyms, indoor meeting and event spaces, certain outdoor settings and more.
Last week, the government released A Plan to Safely Reopen Ontario and Manage COVID-19 for the Long-Term, which outlines the province’s gradual approach to lifting remaining public health and workplace safety measures by March 2022.
Ontario will slowly and incrementally lift all remaining public health and workplace safety measures, including the provincial requirement for proof of vaccination and wearing of face coverings in indoor public settings, over the next six months. This phased approach will be guided by the ongoing assessment and monitoring of key public health and health care indicators, such as the identification of any new COVID-19 variants, increases in hospitalizations and ICU occupancy and rapid increases in transmission to ensure that public health and workplace safety measures are lifted safely.
- The Ontario Government is expected to release more details about its plan for safely reopening the province tomorrow, the same day requirements for its enhance vaccination certification come into effect.
The announcement is expected for 2 p.m. Oct. 22.
- The Government of Canada has announced that, in collaboration with provinces and territories, a standardized Canadian COVID-19 proof of vaccination is now available to residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and Yukon, and will be available in the other provinces soon.
Canada is also engaging with international partners to obtain recognition and acceptance abroad, so the proof can also be used to facilitate travel around the world.
The Canadian COVID-19 proof of vaccination provides Canadians a reliable and secure way to demonstrate their COVID-19 vaccination history, both in Canada and abroad. It is issued by provinces and territories to individuals who are vaccinated and registered with their provincial or territorial health authority. The proof of vaccination can also be used with ArriveCAN, the mobile app and website for travellers to submit mandatory information when arriving in Canada from other countries.
This standardized proof will support Canada’s new traveller vaccination requirements that will come into effect on October 30, 2021. Travellers can continue to use their provincial proof of vaccination for domestic or international travel if their province is not yet issuing the standardized proof of vaccination.
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- Effective October 30, 2021, travellers departing from Canadian airports, and travellers on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains, will be required to be fully vaccinated in order to travel.
To allow travellers time to become fully vaccinated, there will be a short transition period where they will be able to travel if they show a valid COVID-19 molecular test within 72 hours of travel as an alternative to providing proof of full vaccination. If travellers have not already started the vaccination process, or do not start soon, they risk not qualifying for travel as of November 30, 2021.
- The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the Canadian Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) will also expiring on October. 23. The Government of Canada is proposing the following changes to business support programs:
- To help businesses continue to hire back workers and to create the additional jobs the Canada Recovery Hiring Program is being extended until May 7, 2022, for eligible employers with current revenue losses above 10 per cent and increase the subsidy rate to 50 per cent.
- Targeted support for businesses that are still facing significant pandemic-related challenges through two streams:
Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program: support provided through wage and rent subsidy programs to hotels, tour operators, travel agencies, and
restaurants; subsidy rate up to 75 per cent.
Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program: support provided through wage and rent subsidy programs to support other businesses that have faced deep
losses; subsidy rate up to 50 per cent.
- Applicants for these programs will use a new “two-key” eligibility system whereby they will need to demonstrate significant revenue losses over the course of 12 months of the pandemic, as well as revenue losses in the current month.
- Businesses that face temporary new local lockdowns will be eligible for up to the maximum amount of the wage and rent subsidy programs, during the local lockdown, regardless of losses over the course of the pandemic.
- These programs will be available until May 7, 2022, with the proposed subsidy rates available through to March 13, 2022. From March 13, 2022, to May 7, 2022, the subsidy rates will decrease by half.
- The enhanced vaccine certificate with official QR code and the free, made-in Ontario verification app, Verify Ontario, is now available for download.
To ensure a smooth user experience, the province is initially making the enhanced vaccine certificates available for download in cohorts. Enhanced vaccine certificates with official QR codes will be made available for download from the COVID-19 vaccination portal over three days based on birth month:
- October 15, 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.: All individuals born between January and April
- October 16, 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.: All individuals born between May and August
- October 17, 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.: All individuals born between September to December
Starting October 18 at 6:00 a.m., the portal will open for any individual to download their enhanced vaccine certificate, regardless of their birth month. Individuals can also call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900 to have their enhanced vaccine certificate emailed or mailed to them.
People can save the electronic version of their vaccine certificate with a QR code to their phone or print a paper copy. Businesses must accept both electronic and paper versions.
In addition, while the current vaccine receipt without a QR code remains valid and will continue to be accepted, the province is encouraging individuals to download their enhanced vaccine certificate with a QR code as an easier, more secure and convenient way to have their proof of vaccination verified.
In addition, businesses and organizations can now download the free Verify Ontario app from the Apple App and Google Play stores. Verify Ontario will only scan and read official, government issued QR codes, such as Ontario’s vaccine certificate and those SMART Health Codes from other provinces including Quebec, British Columbia and Yukon Territory.
- Applications are now open for the $100-million Tourism Recovery Program to help stabilize the province’s tourism industry as it recovers from the impacts of COVID-19.
- The U.S. government will open land border crossings to non-essential travel to vaccinated Canadians sometime next month. The Canada-U.S. border has been closed to non-essential travel since the March 2020.
The U.S. will accept travellers who have been fully vaccinated with any of the vaccines approved by the World Health Organization, including AstraZeneca. However, work continues on a policy for those who have received mixed doses.
- The Ontario Government is cautiously lifting capacity limits in select indoor and outdoor settings where proof of vaccination is required, as well as certain outdoor settings that have a capacity below 20,000.
In keeping with the government’s cautious approach, effective Saturday, October 9, 2021, at 12:01 a.m., capacity limits will be lifted to allow 100 per cent capacity in the following settings:
- Concert venues, theatres and cinemas;
- Spectator areas of facilities for sports and recreational fitness (would not include gyms, personal training);
- Meeting and event spaces (indoor meeting and event spaces will still need to limit capacity to the number that can maintain physical distancing);
- Horseracing tracks, car racing tracks, and other similar venues; and
- Commercial film and television productions with studio audiences.
Our Economic Development Team is working with Federal and Provincial government to find out more about how and when businesses will be able to access funding and advocating for a quick turnaround to get money to individuals and businesses. Businesses can reach our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We continue to support our business community with the following initiatives:
- Monitoring the situation and keeping you informed of any and all changes to the industry;
- Observing and adjusting the marketing message in response to the changing situation;
- Sustaining an active presence on social and digital platforms to share information with consumers about your state of business;
- Collaborating with industry partners to design a strategy and ensure alignment of efforts; and
- Continuing to provide exceptional service to ensure ongoing customer experience
We are also part of the the Niagara Economic Rapid Response Team, an effort by Niagara’s Mayors and Regional Chair to support local businesses impacted by COVID-19. More details on this as well as supports for businesses can be found here.
Here are more resources to help your business cope with COVID-19:
- World Health Organization' Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19 document
- Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce offers a business guide to coping with COVID-19
- Ontario Chamber of Commerce
- Canadian Chamber of Commerce has useful information and a Preparing for a Pandemic Guide.
- BDC has a comprehensive guide for business continuity
- Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters
- Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses for keeping you and your employees safe
How businesses can cope with COVID-19
With public health officials warning people to avoid large crowds to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19 businesses can expect to face some challenges as we work our way through this evolving situation.
Here is some advice from the St. Catharines Enterprise Centre that businesses can use to help adapt to this challenging situation.
- Look after your employees
They are your biggest asset so it makes sense to support them in any way that you can and help them to navigate applications for employment insurance claims if required.
- Review your health and safety protocols
Enhance already careful sanitizing and cleaning measures and increase frequency. Instruct staff to stay home if they have even minor symptoms (cough, fever, sore throat, or generally feeling unwell).
- Communicate with your customers
Step up your communications with your customers. Keep them informed of any operational changes that you make, remind them of your hours of operation, and offer to help them. Be a trusted and helpful resource for your customers.
- Check your financials
Have conversations with landlords, creditors, suppliers and others about what options are available.
What adjustments can you make to adapt your services to the needs of your customers? Can you offer online shopping? Is free delivery or in-store / curbside pickup an option? Can you meet online instead of in person? Small changes can make a big difference and help keep your business going.
Gift cards are a great way for you to keep generating revenue now when volume is down and gives the customer something to use when regular business practises resume.
- Watch your marketing
While it's important to adapt marketing campaigns to this ever-evolving situation, avoid unreasonable and unsustainable offers to attract immediate sales and customers for a short-term gain. It is still important to focus on the future and stay the course.
Participate in shop local and shop small campaigns such as #ShopSTC. Make an effort to support other small businesses. Can you make purchases from your neighbouring businesses? Can you offer sensible joint promotions?
- Revisit your business plan
Use downtime to make your business better. Take a look at the things you've been putting off, such as improving your CRM system, updating your website and developing a far-reaching online ad campaign. Planning now means you'll be ready to go when things stabilize.
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