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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: July 14th, 2020

Information on government grants, resources, and programs, and how to apply for them, is available here.
The Government of Canada has a support page with summaries of current programs and application portals.

Vital updates:

  • On Friday, July 17th, a face mask bylaw will come into effect in St. Catharines. This bylaw, passed by Council last night, makes St. Catharines the first Niagara municipality to have passed a face mask bylaw. The city solicitor has stated that the bylaw requires businesses to have a mask policy, but not to enforce it, although the bylaw does state that individuals in violation will be guilty of an offence. Businesses can, if they choose, invoke the bylaw to require masks or prohibit entry. Those who claim exemption will be granted it, and are not obliged to prove their exemption. The full text of the report and motion is available here (PDF link).
  • The bylaw defines “enclosed public spaces” as a building or any part of a building that is indoors and where the public is ordinarily invited or permitted access, regardless of whether they pay a fee or hold a membership to do so. This includes:
    • Businesses that sell food, including restaurants, cafés, cafeterias, supermarkets, grocery stores, bakeries, and convenience stores;
    • Shopping malls and other structures with multiple businesses;
    • Places of worship;
    • Community spaces such as libraries, museums, galleries, bingo halls, banquet or convention halls, community centres, cinemas, theatres, concert venues, special event venues, or other similar entertainment, cultural, leisure or event spaces and facilities, indoor sports and recreational facilities, sports clubs, gyms, yoga studios, dance studios, arenas, stadiums and clubhouses;
    • The common areas of hotels, motels, and other short-term accommodations, such as lobbies, elevators, meeting rooms, rest
      rooms, laundry rooms, gyms, and kitchens or other common use facilities, but not the common areas of residential apartment buildings and condominiums;
    • Premises utilized as an open house, presentation centre, or other facility for real estate purposes;
    • Other businesses, organizations and places that are permitted to operate in accordance with the Emergency Orders.
  • The bylaw exempts the following:
    • Day cares, child care facilities, day camps for children, schools, and postsecondary
    • Private and public transportation;
    • Hospitals, independent health facilities and offices of regulated health
    • Buildings and services owned or operated by the Province of Ontario or the
      Federal Government of Canada.
  • Every business included above must have a mask policy and must be able to produce it for inspection by a bylaw officer upon request. The requirement to wear a mask must be posted visibly and conspicuously at every public entrance to the business. The policy must:
    • exempt people listed below from the obligation of wearing a mask, without requiring proof of such exemption;
    • ensure that all persons working at the business or organization are trained in the requirements of the policy;
      require that employees and agents wear a mask, except when they are:

      • Within an area of the premises where the public is not permitted access, or
      • within or behind a physical barrier;
    • permit the temporary removal of a Mask where necessary for the
      purpose of:

      • receiving services;
      • while actively engaging in an athletic or fitness activity including water-based activities;
      • while actively engaged in delivering a vocal artistic performance, paid for or otherwise arranged by the Operator;
      • while participating in a religious rite or ceremony that is incompatible with the face being covered;
      • consuming food or drink; or
      • for any emergency or medical purpose
  • The following people are exempt from the requirement:
    • children under ten years of age;
    • persons with medical conditions which inhibit their ability to wear a mask, including breathing difficulties or cognitive difficulties;
    • persons who are unable to apply or remove a mask without assistance, including those who are accommodated under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA);
    • persons who have protections, including reasonable accommodations, in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code which would prevent them from wearing a Mask;
    • persons while assisting or accommodating another person with a hearing disability.

Reading recommendations:

If you are showing symptoms, you must self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days. Call a public health authority immediately. Do not visit any healthcare provider in person before you have been directly advised to by public health authorities.

Remember that a COVID-19 test is only a snapshot of your health on the specific date and time the swab was taken. No testing is perfect and a negative result doesn’t mean you haven’t been exposed to COVID-19. You can still develop symptoms days after your test was taken.

It is important that everyone practice physical distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Maintain a 2-metre distance from other people. When maintaining distance is impossible, use a face mask. Wash hands frequently and thoroughly. Avoid touching the face. If you have recently traveled outside the country, you are legally required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Previous updates can be accessed here.

Stay safe and be vigilant. The GNCC is here to support you. Contact us with any questions you have.

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