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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Daily Update: April 7th, 2021

Ontario enacts provincial emergency and stay-at-home order

The Ontario government is immediately declaring a third provincial emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA).

Effective Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the government is issuing a province-wide Stay-at-Home order requiring everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise , or for work that cannot be done remotely.

Retail

In addition, the province is also strengthening public health and workplace safety measures for non-essential retail under the provincewide emergency brake. Measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Limiting the majority of non-essential retailers to only operate for curbside pick-up and delivery, via appointment, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., with delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6:00 am and 9:00 pm, and other restrictions;
  • Restricting access to shopping malls to limited specified purposes, including access for curbside pick-up and delivery, via appointment, with one single designated location inside the shopping mall, and any number of designated locations outside the shopping mall, along with other restrictions;
  • Restricting discount and big box stores in-person retail sales to grocery items, pet care supplies, household cleaning supplies, pharmaceutical items, health care items, and personal care items only;
  • Permitting the following stores to operate for in-person retail by appointment only and subject to a 25 per cent capacity limit and restricting allowable hours of operation to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. with the delivery of goods to patrons permitated between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.:
    • Safety supply stores;
    • Businesses that primarily sell, rent or repair assistive devices, aids or supplies, mobility devices, aids or supplies or medical devices, aids or supplies;
    • Rental and leasing services including automobile, commercial and light industrial machinery and equipment rental;
    • Optical stores that sell prescription eyewear to the public;
    • Businesses that sell motor vehicles, boats and other watercraft;
    • Vehicle and equipment repair and essential maintenance and vehicle and equipment rental services; and
    • Retail stores operated by a telecommunications provider or service, which may only permit members of the public to enter the premises to purchase a cellphone or for repairs or technical support.
  • Permitting outdoor garden centres and plant nurseries, and indoor greenhouses that engage in sales to the public, to operate with a 25 per cent capacity limit and a restriction on hours of operation to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

These additional and strengthened public health and workplace safety measures will be in effect as of Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.

Workplace Inspections

Health and safety inspectors and provincial offenses officers will increase inspections and enforcement at essential businesses in regional hot zones to continue protecting essential workers while on the job. There have been 19,500 COVID-related workplace inspections and investigations across the province since the beginning of 2021. During those visits, over 450 COVID-19 related tickets have been issued and OHS inspectors have issued over 14,446 OHS orders and stopped unsafe work related to COVID-19 a total of 24 times.

Rapid Testing

Rapid testing continues to be deployed in workplaces for asymptomatic staff in key sectors such as manufacturing, warehousing, supply chain, mining, construction and food processing. Approximately 5.4 million rapid antigen tests have been sent to over 1,150 workplaces, including 100 essential industry sites, under the Provincial Antigen Screening Program. To encourage the use of these tests under the program, additional outreach will occur to employers in regions with highest rates of transmission to increase access to testing, and the process for enrollment in the screening program will be streamlined to allow for quick access to these supports.

Click here to read more.


GNCC calls for more notice of lockdowns, greater business support, testing and tracing, and more resources for vaccination

Public health officials have indicated that it is necessary to strengthen the restrictions placed upon the province of Ontario in order to contain the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The GNCC believes that expert advice should be heeded to safeguard public health and avoid the consequences of an out-of-control pandemic, which will not only result in loss of life, but a far deeper economic recession.

Timing of announcements

The GNCC notes that, once again, these measures are being imposed with virtually no notice, with imposition following announcement by a matter of hours. Sudden restrictions pose significant costs to businesses and should be avoided wherever possible, especially when public health officials have been warning that such measures will be necessary for weeks.

Need for further support

Statistics Canada data indicate that more than half of businesses do not know how long they could continue to operate at their current level of revenue and expenditures before considering closure or bankruptcy. More than 20% reported they would have to lay off staff within a year.

One-quarter of businesses in accommodation and food services will close within a year at their current level of revenue and expenditures. Over half of businesses in this sector do not have the ability to take on more debt.

These data were gathered before the new lockdown/stay-at-home orders were announced, which will only make these statistics worse. Even with the recent announcement of the extended small business grant program, more support will be needed to avoid closures and job losses.

Stay-at-home enforcement

While the government has placed restrictions upon businesses, appointed officers to inspect them and ensure that orders are being followed, and made the penalties for non-compliance clear, the enforcement of stay-at-home orders and the penalties for individual violations are open to question. The GNCC believes that the individual behaviours which contribute to the spread of SARS-CoV-2, such as unnecessary travel and multi-household gatherings, should be restricted, enforced, and penalized as least as much as business activities.

Testing and tracing

Now as before, one of the reasons why the virus is spreading so fast and why severe, blanket measures are therefore necessary is insufficient testing and tracing capacity, and consequently insufficient data on the sources of community spread. The GNCC urges governments to allocate more resources to tracing and testing which will allow us to isolate outbreaks before they become too large.

Vaccination gap

The only permanent end to lockdowns and restrictions will come with mass vaccination. Only 11.4% of Ontarians have received at least one dose, and only 2.2% are fully vaccinated. The United States has already fully vaccinated almost one in five of its people, the UK almost one in ten, and France, Germany, and Italy have all achieved rates more than double that of Canada’s. Greater urgency and more resources are clearly needed for our vaccination programs.

We ask that decisions on who is vaccinated, and when, should be purely science-based. Vaccination policies should be continuously reviewed by experts to assure their efficacy and adjusted as needed. We also ask the public sector to leverage the expertise, capacities and resources of businesses to support vaccination distribution, and improved testing and tracing capacities.


Venture Niagara supports 97 local businesses through Government of Canada’s Regional Relief and Recovery Fund

Since May 2020, $436.4 million has been made available under the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund to southern Ontario businesses through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), including $83.3 million in targeted rural support delivered by Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs).

Since then, Venture Niagara Community Futures Development Corporation provided more than $3.5million in liquidity support to help 97 businesses impacted by the pandemic to cover fixed operating costs and maintain 212 jobs. The funding is making a difference in the Niagara region by providing businesses the support they need to navigate the uncertainty of the pandemic while finding ways to grow for the future.

The Fund has now been fully committed. Eligible businesses are encouraged to contact Venture Niagara to discuss other funding or liquidity relief options available.

Click here to read more.


Reading recommendations

Ontario imposes stay-at-home order as COVID-19 cases surge but stops short of instituting paid sick days

CBC News

Ontario has declared its third provincewide state of emergency, issuing a stay-at-home order effective 12:01 a.m. Thursday as the number of COVID-19 cases surge.

The province is also expanding vaccine eligibility for more people over the age of 18 in regions hardest hit by the virus, starting with Toronto and Peel.

Premier Doug Ford said that mobile teams are being organized to offer vaccines in high-risk congregate settings, residential buildings, faith-based locations, and places occupied by large employers in hot spot neighbourhoods. Education workers in high-risk neighbourhoods will be allowed to book vaccinations starting next week, he said.


Ontario issues stay-at-home order and declares third state of emergency

Catherine DeClerq, CTV News

Ontario has declared its third state of emergency since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and will be implementing a provincewide stay-at-home order as of Thursday.

Premier Doug Ford made the announcement Wednesday after hours of discussion with his cabinet.

The stay-at home order will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday and will last 28 days.


Canada’s Vaccine Mess

Tracey Lindeman, The Atlantic

By the time you read this, at least a quarter of Americans will have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. It’s a stunning turnaround for a country where a bungled early response, inadequate financial support to keep people home, and a mishmash of mask requirements have led to more than 30 million infections and more than 554,000 deaths.

Just north of the border, Canadians—usually so smug about our universal health care—are looking on with jealousy. “Here, vaccine envy has turned into a national psychosis, another reason to beat ourselves up for some fatal national flaw,” wrote Alan Freeman, a journalist turned public servant and academic on iPolitics, a Canadian news website. In The Globe and Mail, the columnist Ian Brown retells an encounter with a vaccinated person: “I immediately wanted revenge. Nothing serious: steal his car, maybe, or his wallet.”


Niagara COVID status tracker (March 21-27)

Niagara’s most up-to-date COVID statistics, measured against the targets for the various stages of the Ontario COVID-19 Response Framework, are presented below. This does not predict government policy, but is offered to give you an idea of where Niagara is situated and how likely a relaxation (or further restrictions) may be. These data are the most recent published by Niagara Region. The Grey-Lockdown level does not have its own metrics, but is triggered when the COVID-specific measurements in a Red-Control region have continued to deteriorate.

▲: Metric has increased since last published measurement

▼: Metric has decreased since last published measurement

 Incidence ratePercent positivityRt
Target: Green<10<0.5%<1
Target: Yellow10-24.90.5-1.2%1
Target: Orange25-39.91.3-2.4%1-1.1
Target: Red≥40≥2.5%≥1.2
Niagara Current154.2 ▲7.4% ▲1.2 ▼

Definitions:

  • Weekly Incidence Rate: the number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people per week
  • Percent Positivity: the number of positive COVID-19 tests as a percentage of all COVID-19 tests performed
  • Rt: the reproductive rate, or the number of people infected by each case of the virus

Niagara COVID vaccination tracker (April 7)

Niagara’s most up-to-date vaccination numbers are presented below, along with comparison data from Ontario, Canada, and G7 countries.

Total doses administered in Niagara: 92,829

 Percentage of population with one dosePercentage of population fully vaccinated
Niagara23.2%1.9%
Ontario21.6%2.3%
Canada21%2.2%
United States37%23%
United Kingdom49%12%
Germany17%6.3%
France17%5.9%
Italy16%6.8%
Japan0.9%0.5%

Data are drawn from Niagara Region, the Government of Ontario, and Oxford University’s Our World in Data project.


Information on government grants, resources, and programs, policies, forms, and posters for download and use, are available here.The GNCC is here to support you. Contact us with any questions you have.
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