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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: December 21st, 2020

The Government of Ontario has announced that as of 12:01am on December 26th, 2020, the entire province of Ontario will go into a Provincewide Shutdown.
Information on government grants, resources, and programs, as well as policies, forms, and posters for download and use, are available here.
The Government of Canada has a support page with summaries of current programs and application portals.

Vital updates:

  • The Government of Ontario has announced that as of 12:01am on December 26th, 2020, the entire province of Ontario will go into a Provincewide Shutdown. On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, all Ontarians are advised to stay home as much as possible with trips outside the home limited to necessities such as food, medication, medical appointments, or supporting vulnerable community members. Employers in all industries should make every effort to allow employees to work from home. The current COVID-19 Response Framework will be paused when the Provincewide Shutdown comes into effect. The impacts of these time-limited measures will be evaluated throughout the 14 days in Northern Ontario and 28 days in Southern Ontario to determine if it is safe to lift any restrictions or if they need to be extended. Businesses can review their requirements under lockdown here.
  • The Government of Ontario has announced the launch of the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which will provide a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to help small business owners during the province-wide lockdown. Starting at $10,000 for all eligible businesses, the grant will provide businesses with dollar for dollar funding to a maximum of $20,000 to help cover decreased revenue expected as a result of the Provincewide Shutdown. The business must demonstrate they experienced a revenue decline of at least 20 per cent when comparing monthly revenue in April 2019 and April 2020. This grant and other available supports for businesses are listed here. Eligible small businesses include those that:
    • Are required to close or significantly restrict services due to the Provincewide Shutdown being imposed across the province effective 12:01 a.m. on December 26
    • Have fewer than 100 employees at the enterprise level
    • Have experienced a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019.
  • In light of today’s announcement, the GNCC reminds Niagara businesses of the recent extension of regulatory changes brought forward under the Employment Standards Act regarding layoffs. These changes are now extended until July 3, 2021.
  • As part of the government’s ongoing commitment to transparency, today the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) launched the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Registry. This web page allows Canadians to identify which employers are using the wage subsidy to support jobs. Analysis in the Fall Economic Statement demonstrates that government support measures offset about half of the negative economic effects of the pandemic on the unemployment rate. This support has helped Canada to recover almost eight in ten of the lost jobs, compared to just over half in the United States.
  • The City of St. Catharines has announced the following service changes during the Provincewide Shutdown:
    • Access to services at City Hall, such as Citizens First Customer Service, will continue to be available by appointment only.
    • St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre are closed to the public.
    • The Farmers’ Market will operate on Saturdays only between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. Only local vendors may participate. Masks are required, and only one patron per vendor is permitted. Facility monitors will be on-site to manage lines.
    • Arenas, older adult centres, community centres, and the Kiwanis Aquatics Centre are closed.
    • St. Catharines Public Library will offer curbside pick-up for holds.
  • Niagara Health is implementing new restrictions for visitors at their Emergency Departments and Urgent Care Centres, effective today (Monday, Dec. 21) at noon. Consistent with provincial guidelines, visitors/support people will only be able to accompany patients in the ED/UCC if they are supporting patients:
    • in life-altering circumstances.
    • experiencing a mental health crisis.
    • at end of life.
    • who are vulnerable. This includes those under 18 years of age, cognitive or developmentally delayed, and those with severe language impairment.

Reading recommendations:

A new variant of the pandemic SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is spreading in Britain and prompting high levels of concern, especially among the country’s European neighbours, some of which have cut transport links. In April, researchers in Sweden found a virus with two genetic changes that seemed to make it roughly two times more infectious, said Dr. Ravi Gupta, who studies viruses at the University of Cambridge in England. About 6,000 cases worldwide have been reported, mostly in Denmark and England. Several variations of that strain now have turned up. Some were reported in people who got them from mink farms in Denmark. A new South African strain has the two changes seen before, plus some others. Scientists say there’s no evidence that the vaccines being deployed in the U.K. — made by Pfizer-BioNTech — or other COVID-19 shots in development will not protect against this variant.

From virtual workplaces to the challenges of child care, 2020 eroded the border between labour and leisure.


 If you are showing symptoms, contact your health care provider, call the Public Health Info-Line at 905-688-8248, or chat to Public Health online. For testing, call 905-378-4647 ext. 42819 (4-CV19) for information on test centres in Niagara and to book an appointment.

Previous updates can be accessed here.

The GNCC is here to support you. Contact us with any questions you have.

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