LAST UPDATED: Mar. 4th, 2021
Current Press Updates From Your Government:
For the latest, up to date press releases from:
Prime Minister of Canada, please click here.
Ontario Government, please click here
City of Toronto, please click here.

This Page: Below is a collection of information businesses should find helpful.

Please note, as this page continues to grow, new items will be added at the top of the list.

Select Topics Include:

  • Facade & Patio Grant
  • Letter to Premier and Mayor regarding funding/grant amounts.
  • Construction Notice: Wellington/Church Streets
  • Proposed changes to The Esplanade & Mill Street
  • Community Engagement: Shelters
  • Monthly Digital Main Street Webinars
  • CafeTO – CafeTO Registration & FAQ
  • How you can accommodate the unique needs of those vulnerable to Covid-19
  • (Updated) Grey Lockdown Preparation for Retailers (with checklists & posters)
  • Checklist: What to do if an employee tests positive for COVID-19
  • Grant – $3000 for restaurants
  • De-escalation Training Sessions – Claim your spot now!
  • Grant – The New Ontario Small Business Support Grant
  • Grant – Ontario Main Street Recovery Grant (for PPE)
  • Grant – Ontario’s COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program
  • Grant – Ontario’s Digital Main Street Grant
  • Grant – Ontario’s Starter Company Plus Program
  • Provincial State of Emergency Declared: What you need to know
  • 9 newly announced City of Toronto requirements of businesses regarding Covid-19
  • How and what the city will be reporting by sector in the City of Toronto
  • Ontario caps food delivery fees
  • Ontario Announces Provincewide Shutdown to Stop Spread of COVID-19 and Save Lives
  • Federal government announces wage subsidy rate increase to 75 per cent
  • Ontario government extends regulatory amendments allowing businesses to place employees on job-protected leave during COVID-19
  • Ontario Permanently Allowing Alcohol with Food Takeout and Delivery
  • Get Listed on Not Amazon
  • DOWNLOAD & POST: Face Masks and Coverings Offer Best Protection & How to Safely Wear a Mask
  • DOWNLOAD & POST: How To Report a Crime
  • Use #SeeTorontoNow When Posting
  • Government expands CEBA (Canada Emergency Business Account) loans by $20,000
  • CurbTO returns for winter 2020/2021
  • Cheat Sheet for Canada Emergency Rest Subsidy (CERS)
  • Canada Rent Subsidy (CERS)
  • CHART: Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Lockdown Support
  • Lockdown Details & Grants
  • POSTER: How & Why To Report A Crime
  • POSTER: Covid-19 Alert App to post
  • Digital Main Street: Future Proof Program
  • POSTER: Mask Bylaw: poster & other important information for businesses
  • POSTER: Social Distancing Signage for businesses
  • Staff Screening Sheet
  • and more…

Facade & Patio Grant
Added Mar. 04, 2021

The City of Toronto’s BIA Office is now accepting grant applications for the Industrial facade and Property Program and patios until May 06, 2021. This grant provides funding to commercial and industrial property owners to redesign, renovate or restore commercial or industrial building façades. Eligible improvements include, but are not limited to: brick cleaning, restoration, wheelchair accessibility, doors, signage, windows, lighting and masonry.

Half of the cost of eligible improvements is covered and will be based on the lowest contractor estimate submitted with the application. The minimum funding is $2,500 for $5,000 worth of improvements, with a maximum of $12,500 for $25,000 worth of improvements.  Bonus funding up to $2,500 is available for $5,000 worth of accessibility improvements which meet AODA design standards.

Patios – Please note, this grant is also applicable for some patios. Eligible patios/improvements are permanent patio improvements on private property, provided they are visible from the street. (Rear patios or temporary CafeTO patio would not be eligible.)

Questions? All questions regarding the Façade Improvement Grant should be directed to at the City of Toronto’s BIA office.

Apply – Businesses can learn more and apply here. Please review all details BEFORE commencing any improvements.

Letter to Premier and Mayor regarding funding/grant amounts.
Added Mar. 04, 2021

TABIA (Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas) met virtually with a group of Toronto BIAs, including the St Lawrence Market Neighbourhood BIA in Old Town Toronto, once the Stay-At-Home orders were extended for Toronto. The group discussed how additional supports were needed for our local businesses and pointed out that running a business in Toronto is much more expensive than other parts of the province, yet grants and other funding offered were similar for all. With this in mind, TABIA wrote and delivered the above letter to Premier Doug Ford, copying Mayor John Tory. Please see the full letter above or click here to download a PDF.

Construction Notice: Wellington/Church Streets
Added Mar. 4, 2021

The City of Toronto and Toronto Transit Commission are renewing aging streetcar tracks on Wellington Street from Yonge Street to Church Street. Track renewal will also be undertaken on Church Street south of King Street E to Wellington Street. In addition to the TTC track work this project will include streetscape improvements at the intersection of Wellington Street and Church Street.

The project is broken down into 6 Phases with dates included on the notice.

Please click here to read the full notice and to access contact details.

Proposed changes to The Esplanade & Mill Street
Added Mar. 4, 2021

As covered in blogTO, and explained in this video, the City of Toronto has proposed changes to how we all use The Esplanade and Mill Street in order to improve safety. The proposed changes would require area residents, businesses and visitors to adapt to how we use these streets.

If you missed participating in any of the public and or stakeholder meetings you can click here to review the slide deck from the City of Toronto outlining the plans, reasoning and more.

To add your comments please be sure to complete the City of Toronto feedback form no later than March 16th, 2021.

Community Engagement: Shelters
Added Mar. 4, 2021

The City is currently undertaking a third-party review of its community engagement process for new shelter and other services for people experiencing homelessness. This review will identify what currently works well and what can be improved.

There are two ways you can provide input into the Community Engagement Review:
1.    Participate in an anonymous online survey
2.    Participate in a virtual focus group

If you are interested in either of these opportunities, please visit the Welcoming New Shelters web page for more information and instructions on how to participate.

If you have any questions about the Community Engagement Review or how to participate, please contact Amber Krogel, one of the consultants supporting the Community Engagement Review, at

Monthly Digital Main Street Webinars
Added Mar. 4, 2021

Last month we offered two free online workshops with Digital Main Street. These were small intimate workshops just for our local business owners/operators/staff. DMS also offers their own FREE monthly workshops. Read the description of each below and visit the included links to learn more and choose an upcoming date to attend by clicking register. Feel free to forward this to any other businesses you know who might be interested.

Web Presence 101: Your customers are on the web. Having a strategy for your online presence allows you to market your small business online so customers can easily find you. In this workshop hosted by the Toronto Digital Service Squad we’ll discuss the importance of getting your business online and where to start with developing your online presence.

Find out what you will learn and pick a date to sign up for by visiting the link below. 

Social Media for Your Business: Social media is an invaluable tool for today’s business, whether you are just starting out or have been established for years. Not understanding how to use social media effectively can leave you overwhelmed and ultimately hurt your bottom line as your potential customers can easily find your competitors. This workshop hosted by the Toronto Digital Service Squad will leave you with a better understanding of how to leverage the power of social media to grow your online community, drive sales and reduce marketing costs.

Find out what you will learn and pick a date to sign up for by visiting the link below.

eCommerce 101: What, Why, and How: More consumers than ever before are turning to online shopping for greater convenience, safety, and variety. In this webinar, the Toronto Digital Service Squad will teach you the basic steps to setting up an online store. We will cover everything from what you need to prepare before launching a store, to choosing an e-commerce platform, to providing excellent customer service online. You’ll finish this session feeling excited about how e-commerce can help you reach new customers and expand into different markets.

Find out what you will learn and pick a date to sign up for by visiting the link below.

CafeTO Registration & FAQ
Updated Mar. 3, 2021
Added Feb. 26, 2021

CafeTO registration is now open with the City of Toronto at (Please review the guidebook linked on the CafeTO page and here before applying.) Please also see our FAQ below before you register. If you were part of the program last year the City of Toronto likely already emailed you a reminder to apply. Round #1 of applications are due no later than March 26th. Please see FAQ below for more details.

Below we try to answer questions you likely already have.

If I applied last year do I have to apply again this year?

What is the deadline to apply?
Old Town Toronto businesses are strongly urged to apply during Round #1 of the application process (February 26th to March 26th), especially if they are applying for a curb lane patio. Only those who apply by March 26th will have their curb lane patios installed by the May long weekend.

Round #2 applications will begin being accepted March 27th and will be accepted for approx one month.

Where do I apply?
The application and guide will be live starting February 26 at

Is the guidebook the same as last year?
NO – The CaféTO guidebook has been updated. You are strongly advised to review it in detail BEFORE applying. The guidebook will be available on Friday on the CafeTO website.

What insurance do I need?
You will be required to submit a complete Certificate of Insurance. Comprehensive Liability Coverage of at least $1,000,000 is required. A blank copy of the CaféTO Certificate of Insurance PDF is available for download from the insurance tab at

Who needs to know I am applying?
Along with applying directly to CafeTO, please advise the BIA of your intent to apply by emailing

What will I need to apply?
1)  City of Toronto Eating Establishment Licence Number – starts with B71.
2)  Completed Certificate of Insurance with $1,000,000 coverage – liability only.
3)  City of Toronto Café Permit Number (only needed from existing cafés/patios) – starts with R57.
4) A Letter of Permission from an adjacent tenant and/or property owner, (only if you would like to expand your sidewalk cafe,  not curb lane cafe, in front of an adjacent property.)
5) There will be additional requirements for applicants looking to install temporary platforms/decks in the curb lane. To start the process of applying for a road deck you will need to provide two clear photos showing where the deck will go. Once CafeTO advises you that the area is usable, they will then explain what further documentation you will be required to provide in order to attain a building permit. This will include plans, and stamped design drawings. You are advised to not go out and pay for these until it is determined if your curb lane even qualifies for a deck. Read more about decks below.

Please refer to the guide book / application for any other application needs.

If I don’t have everything needed to apply, should I start the application now and update my application later?
NO – Whether you apply on the first day the application portal opens or wait until the last day of the first round (March 26th) does not matter. Instead, focus on ensuring you have the required documents, insurance etc and apply as soon as you have it all. This will help cut down on back and forth for you and the CafeTO team and will help eliminate the potential of confusion. If you have questions or need clarification as you gather things, feel free to email CafeTO using the email below.

What if I just want to install a fence, but no deck?
Good news, unlike the additional building permit you would need for a deck, fencing can be installed as long as it meets the dimensions outlined in the guidebook. Please refer to the guidebook for exact dimensions and placement direction before designing or purchasing fencing.

How will space be divided if there is more than one restaurant in a CafeTO curb lane enclosure?
When it comes to dividing up the curb lane CafeTO patio among multiple restaurants, the city will direct this public right of way space to be divided evenly. The roadway in front of your business is city property. Please understand that in some cases a businesses’ curb lane CafeTO patio section may not be directly in front of their property’s frontage. This is to ensure each business gets as equal of an area as possible. Businesses should prepare for this and are expected to act neighbourly. Businesses are allowed to share their space with each other based on their operating hours and other factors if both parties agree.

What should I make note of regarding decks?
1) If you plan to apply for a deck, you are urged to ensure you apply in the first round of CafeTO applications to avoid delays.
2) Ensure CafeTO green lights you having a deck at all BEFORE you invest in engineering drawings, as these can be costly.
3) If your deck is not approved in advance of the curb lane being closed, you must wait to build your deck, however, you can operate directly on the road surface within the enclosure.
4) If you are approved for a deck before the road closure is installed you cannot begin building your deck on the road until the curb lane is closed properly, (as this would be extremely dangerous.)
5) If your deck is in the way of the City and its contractors if road or utility maintenance is required you will be required to remove the deck at your own expense.

What if I want to expand a patio on private property, not on the sidewalk or road?
Good news, the updated guidebook will speak to this.

What hours can I operate my CafeTO patio?
Operating hours are dependent on what colour coded level we are in with the province as each colour coded level outlines the hours of operation allowed for businesses.

Can I install a tent or roof on my patio if I take it down at night?
NO – Structures will not be allowed on curb lane or CafeTO sidewalk patios.

What is the difference between Curb Lane, Frontage and Curbside patios?
The guide book will speak to this, but essentially:

  • Curb Lane = On the road in the first lane of traffic, with a set back from the second lane for bikes to get by.
  • Frontage = Literally against the frontage of your building.
  • Curbside = On the sidewalk next to the road’s curb. (Note this is the least likely to be permitted and has the most obstacles with many utilities present.)Please see the guidebook for the best explanation and example images.

Contact / Questions
If you have any questions about the CaféTO program after reviewing the guidebook, application and the website linked above, please contact the project team directly at and copy

How you can accommodate the unique needs of those vulnerable to Covid-19
Added Feb. 19, 2021

In a letter to BIAs and our local businesses, the City of Toronto and its reps are asking businesses to implement programs to help Toronto’s most vulnerable populations cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Please take some time to consider how your business might serve or accommodate the unique needs of populations more vulnerable to COVID-19. Some examples are given below. You should think about how your business operates and what might be appropriate for your workplace. If your business is currently closed then these should be considered as part of your plan for reopening.

Examples of ways to help vulnerable populations include:

1) Implementing early shopping hours for seniors or other people more at risk of severe disease outcomes, so that they can shop with fewer people around. Alternatively, implementing personal or virtual shopping hours by appointment,
rather than dedicating specific hours to specific groups.
2) Implementing online ordering and local home delivery, or group delivery to
congregate settings such as care homes and apartment blocks.
3) Clustering frequently-required items close to the store entrance/exit so that
people with limited mobility can spend less time gathering things.
4) Permitting access to non-public washrooms for people with mobility needs.
5) Reviewing building access and navigation options for people with mobility needs.
6) Prioritizing serving the needs of the local community, given that vulnerable
populations are less likely to travel by car or have access to technology.
7) Working with designers to ensure that products and services are designed for inclusion and to meet the actual needs of vulnerable populations. The Design Industry Advisory Committee (DIAC) has a call for proposals on this.
8) Thinking about how to help connect vulnerable people to their communities,
through technology or joint programs. This also includes access to technology
and online/digital services.
9) Adding or altering street furniture so that people who need to rest frequently, especially when waiting outside a store, can distance while doing so.
10) Being available to discuss an individual’s needs, and flexible to alter working practices to accommodate those needs.

You can also help vulnerable populations indirectly by:

A) Being flexible with employees’ work hours and arrangements, particularly if they are required to care for family members or use transit.
B) Ensuring that staff are able to take paid time off if they are sick, or if they are required to self-isolate.

Thank you for considering! You can read the full letter by clicking here.

Grey Lockdown Preparation for Retailers
Added Feb. 11, 2021
Updated Feb 19, 2021

Toronto will continue with the Stay-at-Home orders at least until Mon. Feb. 22, 2021, (with an extension always being possible) before moving to Grey-Lockdown. UDATE: Toronto will now be in Stay-at-Home orders at least until Monday March 8th, 2021. Click here for official press release from the government of Ontario. 

For those who will be allowed to open when we do enter Grey-Lockdown, it is important to understand what and how you can open and the actions you will need to take.

While gyms, personal services, restaurants etc. will not see changes, there will be changes to retail, allowing them to open with restrictions and strict actions to be followed. Businesses not opening during Grey-Lockdown are still encouraged to review the below to help them understand what types of actions they too may need to take when they are eventually allowed to open.

Grey-Lockdown Level
(Note the earliest expected date Toronto will move into Grey-Lockdown Level is Monday March 8th, 2021. Please wait for official announcements from local government.)

In person shopping permitted for retail sales, with capacity limits:

  • 50% capacity limit for supermarkets and other stores that primarily sell groceries, convenience stores, and pharmacies continues.
  • 25% capacity limit for all other stores that engage in retail sales to the public, including, big box stores.
  • Curbside pick-up and delivery permitted.
    Store capacity limit to be posted publicly. (Post this on any entrances customers and staff may use.)

Signage/forms/actions businesses and organizations to use in conjunction with all other health recommendations:

  1. Post signs at all entrances informing the public on how to screen themselves for COVID-19 before entering.
    Click here for signage on how to screen yourself.
  2. Actively screen every person who works at the business or organization before they enter the premises.
    Click here for staff screening sheet from the City of Toronto and prepare to do this every shift.
  3. Actively screen patrons entering indoor malls
  4. Require individuals to maintain at least two metres of physical distance and wear a face covering
    Click here for a mandatory mask poster from the City of Toronto.
    Click here for 2m distance poster from the City of Toronto.

To review these requirements in their original official format/text please click here.
Click here for press release regarding moving to grey zone.

Checklist: What to do if an employee tests positive for COVID-19
Added Jan. 29, 2021

The City has put together a COVID-19 guide for businesses and a checklist to guide employers in reporting workplace outbreaks of COVID-19. Please print, review and have ready the checklist so you do not have to search for it should you ever need it.

As per the Letter of Instruction from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, employers must immediately notify Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600 as soon as they become aware of two or more people who test positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day interval in connection with their workplace premises.

Click here for checklist.


GRANT: $3000 for restaurants
Added Jan. 29, 2021

DoorDash is providing grants of up to $3000 to restaurants to help offset the costs associated with running a restaurant amidst the ongoing pandemic. Restaurants do not need to be on the DoorDash platform to be eligible.

Grants can be used to cover operating costs including rent, payroll, purchasing PPE, expanding outdoor dining capacity, and other expenses.

Eligible restaurants include concepts with 3 stores or less, $3M or less annual revenue per store in 2019, 50 employees or less per store, and must have at least one location in Montreal, Vancouver, or Toronto.

Applications close February 17, 2021. Recipients will be announced during the week of March 1, 2021. Grant recipients can expect to receive the funds no later than Monday, May 10, 2021.

Click here to learn more.

De-escalation Training Sessions – Claim your spot now!
Added Jan. 29, 2021

De-escalation Training Sessions for street level businesses will be held again between February and March, sponsored by the Toronto BIA Office and co-facilitated by the Downtown Yonge BIA staff and Rebecca Higgins, a mental health consultant.

During these challenging times, stress levels are higher for everyone. In these webinars, we’ll explore using supportive communication and de-escalation skills in the era of COVID-19 as well as with individuals who may be street-involved or displaying agitated behaviours. Sign up for a webinar today!

These sessions are a continuation of the ones held in the fall, which had over 250 attendees from 46 different BIAs. Almost all of the attendees were managers or staff who interact with customers and the general public continuously who had experienced difficult situations and were looking to improve their skills and understanding.

Click here to learn more and sign up.
Added Jan. 21, 2021

As you know, UberEats and many other companies normally charge restaurants up to 30% for food delivery. understands that when customers order from local restaurants directly vs through an app they are putting more money into the local economy during this critical time.

If you offer your own delivery service, ie not just on UberEats, DoorDash, Skip the dishes etc, but through your own delivery team, then please list your business for free.

Click here to learn more.

Grant – The New Ontario Small Business Support Grant
Updated Jan. 14, 2021

The Ontario government is announcing the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which will provide a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to eligible small business owners.

Small businesses required to close or restrict services under the Provincewide Shutdown will be able to apply for this one-time grant. Each small business will be able to use the support in whatever way makes the most sense for their individual business.

Eligible small businesses include those that:

  • Are required to close or significantly restrict services subject to the Provincewide Shutdown effective 12:01 a.m. on December 26, 2020;
  • Have less than 100 employees at the enterprise level; and
  • Have experienced a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019.

Application Link:

Application Guide:

More information: available here.

Grant – Ontario Main Street Recovery Grant (for PPE)
Updated Jan. 14, 2021

This grant provides a one-time reimbursement of up to $1,000 for PPE costs for eligible small businesses with two to nine employees, in the retail, food and accommodation sectors, and other service sectors like repair and maintenance, personal and laundry services, to help them cover PPE costs.

Click here to learn more.

Grant – Ontario Energy & Property Tax Rebates
Updated Jan. 14, 2021

Businesses that were required to shut down or significantly restrict services due to provincial public health measures (in areas with modified Stage 2 restrictions or categorized as control/red or lockdown/grey) can apply for rebates, provided in the form of grants, to cover municipal/education property taxes and energy costs (electricity/natural gas/propane/home heating oil).

Click here to learn more.

Grant – Ontario’s COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program
Updated Jan. 14, 2021

A one time, on-bill credit to eligible small business and registered charity customers to help them catch up on their energy bills and resume regular payments. Small business and registered charity customers may be eligible for up to $850 in support towards their electricity bill if they primarily use electricity for heating, or up to $425 otherwise. Small business and registered charity customers could also be eligible for up to $425 in support towards their natural gas bill.

Click here to learn more.

Grant – Ontario’s Digital Main Street Grant
Updated Jan. 14, 2021

This grant is for Digital Transformation training and guidance and provides the opportunity for main street businesses to apply for a grant of up to $2,500 to help their business launch and expand online, supporting small business e-commerce growth.

If you do decide to apply for the grant, here are a few things it could go towards:

-Digital Marketing
-Hiring a consultant/agency/person to execute Digital Marketing initiatives
-Redesign, Improvement of existing website
-Development of new website
-Graphic design software
-Productivity Software (LastPass, Hootsuite, Dropbox, etc.)
-Social Media Software (Hootsuite, Buffer, etc.)
-Security Software
-Other software as evidenced in the DTP

Our local Digital Service Squad (DSS) member is Chelsea Armstrong. Chelsea’s primary role is to help you on-board to the Digital Main Street platform and assess your digital needs. She can then help you gain a basic web presence or enhance your existing web presence by helping you activate easy-to-use tools such as Google My Business, social media, or setting-up a free trial of an e-commerce shop (through Shopify). For assistance with any of this, please reach out to Chelsea ASAP via email at

Click here to learn more.

Grant – Ontario’s Starter Company Plus Program
Updated Jan. 14, 2021

This program provides funding up to $5,000, one-on-one advice from a Small Business Advisor and 6 biweekly coaching sessions for businesses in their first 5 years in business. The program is accessed through the province’s 47 Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Network locations.

Click here to learn more.

Provincial State of Emergency Declared: What you need to know
Added Jan. 12, 2021

The Ontario Government has just announced a second Provincial Emergency. They are issuing stay-at-home orders and will be introducing enhanced enforcement measures to reduce mobility.

Below you will find highlights on:
1) Additional Health Measures (includes changes for businesses.)
2) Stay-At-Home Orders (includes work from home direction.)
3) New Enforcement Measures
4) Paid Sick Leave


1) Additional Health Measures: The following additional public health measures are being put in place:

  • All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery.
  • Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.
  • Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are further restricted to a limit of five people with limited exceptions. This is consistent with the rules during the lockdown during the first wave of COVID-19 in spring 2020 and will allow individuals and families to enjoy time outdoors safely.
  • Individuals are required to wear a mask or face covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open. Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can’t physically distance more than two metres.

These measures will come into effect between Tuesday January 12, 2021 and Thursday, January 14, 2021.
For more details, click here to read the full press release.


2) Stay-At-Home Orders: Effective Thursday, January 14, 2021at 12:01 a.m., the government is issuing a stay-at-home order requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for essential work. This order and other new and existing public health restrictions are aimed at limiting people’s mobility and reducing the number of daily contacts with those outside an immediate household. In addition to limiting outings to essential trips, all businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home.
For more details, click here to read the full press release.


3) New Enforcement Measures: Under the declaration of a provincial emergency, the province will provide authority to all enforcement and provincial offences officers, including the Ontario Provincial Police, local police forces, bylaw officers, and provincial workplace inspectors to issue tickets to individuals who do not comply with the stay-at-home-order, or those not wearing a mask or face covering indoors as well as retail operators and companies who do not enforce. Those who decide not to abide by orders will be subject to set fines and/or prosecution under both the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, (ROA) and EMCPA.

In addition, all enforcement personnel will have the authority to temporarily close a premise and disperse individuals who are in contravention of an order and will be able to disperse people who are gathering, regardless of whether a premise has been closed or remains open such as a park or house.
For more details, click here to read the full press release.


4) Paid Sick Leave: In the unfortunate event that an employee becomes infected with COVID-19, they may be entitled to federally funded paid sick leave of up to $500 a week for two weeks. Workers can also access Canada’s Recovery Caregiver Benefit of up to $500 per week for up to 26 weeks if they are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care.
For more details, click here to read the full press release.

Dr. Eileen de Villa

9 newly announced City of Toronto requirements of businesses regarding Covid-19
Added Jan. 6, 2021

Dr. Eileen de Villa has written a letter to all persons responsible for a business or organization in the City of Toronto, outlining the 9 items to be implemented immediately:

1)  Immediately notify Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600 as soon as you become aware of two or more people who test positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day interval in connection with your workplace premises.

2)  If two or more people test positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day interval in connection with your workplace premises, employers must:
  -2a. Provide contact information for a designated contact person at the workplace premise and ensure that person is readily available to communicate with Toronto Public Health and implement any additional measures immediately as required by Toronto Public Health.
  -2b. Ensure that accurate and updated contact information for all workers is available to be produced to Toronto Public Health within 24 hours of request in support of case management and contact tracing requirements for COVID19.
  -2c. Notify the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development and/or other relevant government authorities. d. Cooperate with infection prevention and control personnel from Toronto Public Health including allowing entry into the workplace premise for inspection and to support enhanced infection prevention and control measures and recommendations.

3) Ensure hand sanitizer and hand-washing facilities are provided in work and rest areas. Hand sanitizer with 60-90% alcohol content is recommended.

4)  Implement rigorous and frequent environmental cleaning in all high-touch areas and those areas accessible to the public, including washrooms, check-out counters, concession stands, and other high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs, elevator buttons.

5)  Conduct or have the property owner or landlord conduct a regular review of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to ensure they are functioning well.

6)  Minimize instances of more than one individual in a vehicle for driving associated with work. If unavoidable, ensure face coverings are worn in the vehicle (preferably medical masks) and drive with the windows open.

7)  Ensure that physical distancing of workers takes place by at least two (2) metres throughout the workplace and during eating and rest periods (e.g., lunchrooms, change rooms, washrooms). Install one-way walkways to reduce close physical interactions.

8)  Implement physical barriers, such as plexiglass, when physical distancing is not possible. Physical distancing is always preferable to the use of barriers.

9)  In order to encourage forthright reporting of COVID-19 symptoms or contact among employees, ensure that all employees are aware of income replacement and workplace-related benefits they are entitled to if they have to isolate due to symptoms of COVID-19, being tested for COVID-19 or being a close contact of someone with COVID-19.

Read the full letter by clicking here.


How and what the city will be reporting by sector in the City of Toronto
Added Jan. 6, 2021

Toronto Public Health (TPH) has launched new content on its monitoring dashboard to illustrate how the pandemic is affecting workplace settings.

As of Jan 7, 2021 all workplace outbreaks will be published weekly in the following categories:

  • Bar, restaurant, nightclub and other entertainment venues
  • Event venues, and religious facilities
  • Non-institutional medical health services including doctor’s offices, physiotherapy clinics, dental settings and wellness clinics
  • Personal service settings including hair salons, tattoo parlours, nail salons and spas
  • Recreational fitness facilities, group fitness classes, team sports and related events
  • Retail settings including grocery stores, pharmacies and malls
  • Farms
  • Food processing plants
  • Offices, warehouses, shipping and distribution, construction, and manufacturing settings
  • Other workplaces and community settings not captured in these categories
  • Unknown

Read the full press release here.

Ontario caps food delivery fees
Added Dec. 24, 2020

The Supporting Local Restaurants Act, 2020 came into effect on December 19, at 12:01 a.m. Food delivery companies are now required to limit the rates they charge to 20% for each transaction — with no more than 15% for commission for food delivery services. The cap applies in areas where indoor dining is prohibited.

Click here to read the full press release.

Ontario Announces Provincewide Shutdown to Stop Spread of COVID-19 and Save Lives
Added Dec. 24, 2020

The Provincewide Shutdown will go into effect as of Saturday, December 26, 2020, at 12:01 a.m.

Measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Restricting indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household (the people you live with). Individuals who live alone may consider having exclusive close contact with one other household.
  • Prohibiting in-person shopping in most retail settings – curbside pickup and delivery can continue. Discount and big box retailers selling groceries will be limited to 25 per cent capacity for in-store shopping. Supermarkets, grocery stores and similar stores that primarily sell food, as well as pharmacies, will continue to operate at 50 per cent capacity for in-store shopping.
  • Restricting indoor access to shopping malls – patrons may only go to a designated indoor pickup area (by appointment only), essential retail stores that are permitted to be open (e.g. pharmacy, grocery store), or, subject to physical distancing and face covering requirements, to the food court for takeout purchases. Shopping malls may also establish outdoor designated pickup areas.
    Prohibiting indoor and outdoor dining. Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments will be permitted to operate by take out, drive-through, and delivery only.

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.

Click here to read the full press release for more details.


Federal government announces wage subsidy rate increase to 75 per cen
Added Dec. 24, 2020

The Federal government announced last week that it has raised the maximum wage subsidy rate back to 75 per cent for the period beginning Sunday, December 20 until March 13, 2021 to help support businesses through the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The wage subsidy is now more flexible, allowing employers to access the maximum subsidy rate based on a single month’s revenue decline instead of requiring them to demonstrate three months’ decline.

Click here to read the full press release.

Ontario government extends regulatory amendments allowing businesses to place employees on job-protected leave during COVID-19
Added Dec. 24, 2020

The Government of Ontario announced that it is extending regulatory changes to the Employment Standards Act to help businesses avoid costly payouts and potential closures, while offering protection to workers laid off due to COVID-19. To help prevent temporary layoffs from becoming permanent, the regulatory changes include a job-protected leave for non-unionized employees that can be implemented any time their hours of work are temporarily reduced by their employer due to the pandemic.

Click here to read the full press release.

Ontario Permanently Allowing Alcohol with Food Takeout and Delivery
Added Dec. 16, 2020

The province is now permanently allowing licensed restaurants and bars to include alcohol with food as part of a takeout or delivery order.

Additional permanent reforms for the hospitality sector will allow:

  • alcohol service on docked boats by operators with a liquor sales licence;
  • reduced minimum pricing of spirits consumed on-site, to align with the reduced pricing introduced for takeout and delivery orders;
  • the length of time for temporary patio extensions to be set out by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO); and,
  • for a requirement that ensures third parties delivering from licensed restaurants and bars have a delivery licence.

The requirements that apply to alcohol sales, service and delivery will continue to apply to boats with a liquor sales licence and liquor delivery services, including checking ID, Smart Serve training and not serving or selling to intoxicated people.

The province is also supporting businesses by:

  • removing restrictive rules to allow for the delivery of alcoholic beverages in food boxes and meal kits;
  • allowing eligible alcohol manufacturers to deliver their own products and charge a delivery fee;
  • allowing restaurants and bars to offer mixed cocktails and growlers as part of a takeout or delivery order; and,
  • permitting eligible manufacturers to sell spirits and 100 per cent Ontario wine at farmers markets.

Read the full press release by clicking here.

Get Listed on Not Amazon
Added Dec. 14, 2020

Many small, local, independent businesses are looking for ways to stand out and be found this holiday season. This is harder and harder to do with the likes of Amazon and other online giants, (although have you checked out our resource page and the info we have there on Digital Main Street?)

If you are a small local business offering curbside pick up / delivery (or know of one), and are looking for an extra, free, listing to be featured in, check out It is being shared by many locals on social media as everyone rushes to support local this holiday season.

Face Masks and Coverings Offer Best Protection & How to Safely Wear a Mask
Added Dec. 14, 2020

The City of Toronto has published the above info graphics. Please review and share with your staff.  You can download each to print:



Thank you for doing your part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help protect our communities. For more tips on social distancing, please click here to download the city’s info sheet.

Use #SeeTorontoNow When Posting
Added Dec. 14, 2020

Destination Toronto has put out an ask for BIAs and their members (that’s you!) to use the hashtag #SeeTorontoNow in any future social media posts.

Destination Toronto uses a tool that scans social media channels for specific hashtags.  When a local business or BIA adds the hashtag to their post, the tool will then automatically pick it up and amplify the post on Destination Toronto’s heavily followed social channels for the month of December. There is no cost to this, simply add the hashtag to any upcoming posts. This is a great way to amplify all shop local messaging.

Government expands CEBA (Canada Emergency Business Account) loans by $20,000
Added Dec. 14, 2020

Starting on Friday, December 4, 2020, eligible businesses facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are able to access a second CEBA loan of up to $20,000 – on top of the initial $40,000 that was available to small businesses.

Half of this additional financing, up to $10,000, will be forgivable if the loan is repaid by December 31, 2022.

This means the additional loan effectively increases CEBA loans from the existing $40,000 to $60,000 for eligible businesses, of which a total of $20,000 will be forgiven if the balance of the loan is repaid on time.

As announced in the Fall Economic Statement, the application deadline for CEBA has also been extended to March 31, 2021.

To apply, eligible businesses and not-for-profits need to contact the financial institution that provided their initial CEBA loan and provide the appropriate information and documentation. Click here for the full press release.

How To Report a Crime
Added Dec. 3, 2020 

Your neighbours, local businesses and Toronto Police need your help. If you see something, say something, using this handy How To Report Crime graphic. The easiest way to advocate for more police in our area is to show TPS where their services are needed, by filing reports, so resources can be allocated better.

Download, print and post this handy How To Report A Crime graphic next to your phone or computer. To download the graphic here please visit:

Many reports can now be done quickly online, 24 hours a day at
Here you can report issues such as:
-Damage to property/vehicle under $5000
-Theft or fraud under $5000
-Theft from vehicle under $5000
-Neighbourhood driving complaint
-and more!

Thank you to our friends at Downtown Yonge BIA for creating this helpful tool.

CurbTO returns for winter 2020/2021
Added Dec. 3, 2020 

In response to the City of Toronto entering the Grey-Lockdown category of the Province of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework, City of Toronto Transportation Services is re-launching the application process for the installation of Temporary Parking Pick-Up Zones (TPPZs) as part of the CurbTO program.

Temporary Parking Pick-Up Zones will accommodate increased demand for curbside pick-up and delivery and provide residents with easy access to nearby parking opportunities while directly supporting local businesses and abiding by public health requirements.

Registration can be done at .  If you have any questions, please contact the project team at

If you do plan to apply, kindly email the BIA so that we are aware of your intentions. Thank you! You can email

Cheat Sheet for Canada Emergency Rest Subsidy (CERS)
Added Dec. 3, 2020 

Members of the Kensington Market BIA, who have gone through the CERS application process themselves, worked with their BIA to assemble a cheat sheet on applying for CERS, based on their personal experiences. Take a look to see if it may help you. You can access the sheet by clicking here. Thank you to the Kensington Market BIA for sharing this tool.

In addition TABIA, (Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas) has also compiled an info sheet you can see by clicking here.

Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)
Updated Dec 3, 2020
Added Nov. 23, 2020 

Canadian businesses, non-profit organizations, or charities who have seen a drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of their commercial rent or property expenses, starting on September 27, 2020, until June 2021.

This subsidy will provide payments directly to qualifying renters and property owners, without requiring the participation of landlords.

If you are eligible for the base subsidy, you may also be eligible for lockdown support if your business location is significantly affected by a public health order for a week or more.

Please click here to learn who qualifies and how to apply.

UPDATE: Questions?
If you have questions about the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), there will be two sessions in English (Dec. 4th & Dec. 9th) as well as two sessions in French (Dec. 7th and Dec. 11th), all taking place from 1 – 2pm ET. Due to limited space, we recommend that you register as quickly as possible. Click here to REGISTER and learn more.

In addition to this, the CRA has launched CERS webpages, an online CERS calculator, and CERS infographics (Take a look at the new Canada Emergency Rent SubsidyThe Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy has got you covered, and We’re here to help) to assist organizations in preparing their applications.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Lockdown Support
Added Nov. 23, 2020

Above is a useful summary chart for Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Lockdown Support. To access the actual website and learn more, please click here.

Please be sure to take advantage of these programs.

NEW: Lockdown Details & Grants: Ontario Taking Further Action to Stop the Spread of COVID-19
Added Nov. 20, 2020

The government intends to move Peel Public Health and Toronto Public Health into Lockdown effective Monday, November 23, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.

Measures under Lockdown include, but are not limited to:

  • Retail permitted to be open for curbside pick-up or delivery only, with certain exceptions such as for supermarkets, grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, discount and big box retailers selling groceries, beer, wine and liquor stores, safety supply stores, and convenience stores, which will be allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity;
  • Restaurants, bars, and food and drink establishments will only be able to provide takeout, drive-through and delivery. Indoor and outdoor dining services are prohibited;
  • Personal care services closed;
  • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments closed; and
    Indoor sports and recreational facilities, including pools, closed with limited exceptions.
  • Schools, before and after school programs, and child care will remain open;
  • Post-secondary schools open for virtual learning with some limited exceptions for training that can only be provided in-person, such as clinical training or training related to a trade;
  • No indoor organized public events or social gatherings except with members of the same household. Individuals who live alone, including seniors, may consider having exclusive, close contact with one other person;
  • Outdoor organized public events or social gatherings limited to a maximum of 10 people;
  • Wedding services, funeral services and religious services, rites or ceremonies where physical distancing can be maintained can have up to 10 people indoors or 10 people outdoors;

Public health units will stay in their level for a minimum of 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods, at which time, the government will assess the impact of public health measures to determine if the public health unit should stay where they are or be moved to a different level.

Businesses can apply online for temporary property tax and energy cost rebate grants from the province, via an easy-to-use one-window portal. The rebates will cover the length of time that a business is required to temporarily close or significantly restrict services as a result of being located in an area categorized as Red-Control or Lockdown, or previously categorized as modified Stage 2 public health restrictions. Most businesses can expect to receive their rebate payments within a few weeks of submitting a complete application. A detailed list of eligible businesses, as well as instructions for applying, can be found at

Read the full press release by clicking here.

Learn about Ontario’s colour coded Response Framework by clicking here.

Winter CafeTO
Added Nov. 12, 2020

UPDATE: Please note, ALL outdoor dining is prohibited as of Monday November 23rd as Toronto enters Lockdown. Stay tuned for updates.

There is no registration required to participate in Winter CaféTO, however, you MUST follow the required steps to operate a sidewalk café as outlined on the City of Toronto Website and ensure you are in compliance as site visits are expected.

You will need to:
1) Read the design guide.
2) Prepare for on the spot presentation of: insurance, letter of Municipal non-objection, liquor license.
3) Obtain permission letter (in some cases).
4) Read the indemnification clause, staff report and motion.

In addition to the above, it is imperative you read the tabs regarding:
5) Winter Maintenance, ie) snow removal and when you are obligated to remove your patio for sidewalk plows.
6) Tent / Structure Guidelines, ie) where tents are and are not allowed as well as sizing and openings.
7) Heater Guidelines, ie) where they are allowed, not allowed, types etc.

Learn more bt clicking here to view:

Saturday November 14th: Toronto to entered red zone under Ontario’s coronavirus system with stricter local restrictions
Added Nov. 12, 2020

UPDATE: Please note, Toronto will move to Lockdown Grey Zone on Monday November 23rd, 2020

Toronto entered the red zone under Ontario’s new coronavirus system, while local officials implemented stricter restrictions than what is required under the provincial regulations.

Indoor dining, meeting and event spaces and gaming establishments will remain closed.

Indoor fitness classes will not be permitted, while gyms will be allowed to open with a maximum of 10 people indoors.
Click here to continue reading and view source.

Learn about Ontario’s colour coded system by clicking here.

Lockdown Support for Businesses Facing Significant Public Health Restrictions (under CERS)
Added Nov. 12, 2020

On October 9, the government proposed new targeted, direct supports for businesses, non-profits and charities facing ongoing economic challenges amidst the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. For organizations that are subject to a lockdown and must shut their doors or significantly limit their activities under a public health order issued under the laws of Canada, a province or territory (including orders made by a municipality or regional health authority under one of those laws), the government proposed a top-up under the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy to provide additional support while they face lockdowns.

Learn more by clicking here.

UPDATE ON: Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) Extension
Added Nov. 12, 2020

The government is proposing to further extend the wage subsidy program until June 2021 and implement other enhancements to the program to better respond to the evolving economic and health situation. These proposed changes will make the program more flexible and more generous, and ensure that the program provides continued support to employers.

Details of the program until December 19, 2020 are provided here. The government will provide details for the upcoming periods in advance of the current terms’ expiry and will ensure the wage subsidy program continues to be responsive to the economic situation.

Click here to learn more.


UPDATE ON: Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)
Added Nov. 12, 2020

On October 9, the government proposed the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy to provide direct relief to businesses, non-profits, and charities that continue to be economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new rent subsidy would be available retroactive to September 27, 2020, until June 2021.

The government is providing the proposed details for the first 12 weeks of the program, until December 19, 2020.

Click here to learn more.

PATIO UPDATE: Important Steps To Keep Outdoor Dining Safer
& Extension of Winter Patio Program 

Stay Safe:
1) Coverings (e.g. roof/tent) must have 2+ sides open to the outdoors.
2) Separate customers seated at different tables by at least 6 feet/2 metres.
3) Staff/customers must wear a mask inside (e.g. washrooms) & are recommended to wear one outside.
4) Enclosed dome coverings are not allowed while indoor dining is prohibited, (see item 1# above.)
5) Frequently clean & disinfect all potentially contaminated surfaces.
6) Post Coovid-19 screening sign & keep a log with staff / customer contact info.

Winter Patios:
Toronto City Council has approved the extension of the winter patio program for curbside (not curb lane) cafes and expanded private patios. The full press release can be found here.

More information, including new guidelines, will become available early November at

Homelessness & Encampments – Take Action

Before the COVID-19 global pandemic, Toronto was already facing a homelessness crisis of massive proportion. During the pandemic, the crisis has become more visible and incredibly more acute.

Issues contributing to homelessness, mental health and addictions are all within the legislative jurisdiction of the Provincial and Federal Governments. Without the active participation from the other orders of government, Toronto will be unable to meet the demand for affordable and supportive housing, an overdose epidemic, mental health and public safety issues.

Take action by using the pre-populated email found on City of Toronto Councillor Wong-Tam’s website to help draw more attention to this issue. Simply click here and scroll down to the form.

How & Why To Report A Crime

Why report it?
Our members often say they would like to see an increase in Toronto Police presence, but Toronto Police say they do not receive reports to show were coverage is needed the most. Since police resources are often based on reporting data, as a business and as a resident, it is in YOUR BEST INTEREST to report everything, every time.

Please consider downloading the above graphic by clicking here to print, read and post in your staff room and at home.

Reporting online is fast:
The items listed below can now be reported online. Every report filed helps improve the police resource allocation data. Report as often as possible. Please review the following link now and bookmark it on your computer and phone for future reporting:

You can report these items online:

  • Lost property
  • Damage to property under $5000
  • Damage to vehicle under $5000
  • Theft under $5000
  • Fraud under $5000
  • and more

Restaurants invited participate in ToGoToronto for FREE is up and running again to support the economic recovery of the restaurant community. The platform provides an easy way for Toronto residents to find restaurants that are open for safe takeout or delivery. Register for free to add your restaurant.

Learn more here:

City of Toronto partnering with Ritual to launch Open For Business

The City of Toronto is extending its partnership with Ritual to launch Open For Business, a collaboration to help small businesses across Toronto increase online delivery sales.

As part of the initiative – which also includes food delivery service DoorDash – the digital ordering platform Ritual ONE is available to any Toronto business at no cost through the end of this year. In addition, Toronto businesses will receive two weeks of free delivery from DoorDash from October 26 to November 8.

Any business that completes one delivery order on Ritual ONE powered by DoorDash Drive by December 31 will also receive Ritual ONE for free through 2021.

Learn more by clicking here.

Patio Heaters Fire Prevention

During the recent Fire Prevention Week, the Technical Standards & Safety Authority (TSSA), the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) and the Canadian Propane Association partnered to educate the hospitality industry and the public about potential fire and carbon monoxide hazards associated with the improper use of patio heaters.

Please review this important press release and the guidelines you should post in your staff room.

REMINDER: Keep these units locked up outside at night to avoid theft. See Safety Guide for rules, regulations and additional storage information.

$2000 in FREE LED Interior Lighting Upgrades

Don’t miss your chance to receive up to $2,000 in free LED interior lighting upgrades to your business.

LED lighting upgrades can save you up to 20% on your electricity costs.

Email or call Nick Brown, Energy Manager of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas to be connected with a program representative who will schedule a free lighting assessment to determine what lighting upgrades you are eligible for.

Nick can be reached at or (416) 886-1244.

The below information has been replaced due to new announcements.

New protocols for restaurants start October 8th, 2020

If you operate a dining establishment, please note that City Council has passed new bylaws you must comply with. These will come into effect on Thursday October 8th, 2020.

Role of employer during a workplace COVID-19 outbreak
Are you ready for an outbreak? Here is what you need to do now and during an outbreak:

1) Develop a preparedness and response plan in the event someone becomes ill with symptoms of COVID-19.

2) Communicate with employees and business partners early and often to ensure accurate information is being shared.

3) Keep a list of the names and contact information of all participants at in-person meetings or events. Toronto Public Health will use this list to notify and provide instructions for close contacts to self-isolate or self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.

4) Any personal information that is collected for COVID-19 contract tracing can only be used for this purpose, unless an individual provides their consent. Records should only be kept for 30 days, and then shredded.

5) Contact Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600 for guidance if you have been notified that an employee has tested positive and/or you have concerns that employees may have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 in the workplace.

6) Provide Toronto Public Health with contact information of exposed employees and customers to assist with contact tracing.

7) If a staff member, client or customer has tested positive for COVID-19, Toronto Public Health will interview the person to determine if he/she was contagious while on your premises. Consent is obtained from the employee before disclosing personal health information to the employer.

8) Clean and disinfect surfaces that may have been touched by the sick employee as soon as possible.

9) Additional public health advice in the event of an outbreak may include additional cleaning and disinfecting measures to reduce the risk of spread in the setting.

10) Follow public health guidance on additional preventive measures.

11) Support employees who need to be absent from work due to illness or being a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19.

12) Maintain confidentiality of employees’ personal health information.

13) Report to the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) if you have been advised that one of your employees has tested positive due to exposure at the workplace.

14) Encourage staff to download the COVID Alert app so they can be notified directly if they have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.

For more please visit:

POSTER: Covid-19 Alert App to post

The City of Toronto is sharing the above poster and asking all businesses to consider posting in a highly visible area. You can download the poster by clicking here. Additional posters can be located by clicking here.

Capacity Limits for Businesses

On September 19, 2020, the Province of Ontario announced, in a press release that the new limit on the number of people allowed to attend an unmonitored private social gathering, across the province, is now 10 people at an indoor event, and 25 people at an outdoor event or gathering.

This new announcement DOES NOT apply to staffed businesses. Inside, businesses can still have up to 50 people if proper physical distancing measures are in place (ie. enough room for 6 feet between guests, masks being used, contact tracing for restaurants… etc).

If physical distancing cannot be maintained, businesses should lower their capacity accordingly down from 50.
TIP: Many businesses post a sign on their front door identifying the number of people they can welcome into their space at a time.

If you are a bar/restaurant/activity or entertainment venue and have room for MORE than 50 and can maintain all protocols, you can apply for an exemption from the city. Learn more by clicking here.

For more, please review this article from CTVNews.

Sign up for DineOutTO NOW!

On Sept. 23rd Destination Toronto, in partnership with the City of Toronto, is launching a 6 week promotion called DineOutTO. The goal is to inspire and encourage Toronto residents to discover new culinary experiences. (Let’s make them culinary tourists in their own city!) The program will be heavily supported by a marketing and social media campaign, targeting Torontonians.

You can participate one, two or three ways:

1) A Special Offer • Present a special offer or value-add. For example, a complimentary appetizer, percentage off total bill, bonus item, or kids eat free.


2) A Signature Dish • Show off your special signature dish, cocktail, or a ‘must-try’ item on your menu. This category is for those people who need a little inspiration or are looking to try the best of what our food scene has to offer.


3) A Culinary Experience • Include a special experience unique to your restaurant. Example a seasonal prix-fixe menu, reservation at the chef’s table, or unique wine pairings.

If at any time your offerings change, or there is a need to pause service, you can login and easily update, edit or remove any part of your listing.

How To Register:
Go to the DineOutTO Registration Page and:
• Add your restaurant
• Note your offer, signature dish and/or culinary experience
• Include an image
• Enter your MLS License Number
• Upload an image of your DineSafe pass

For questions please contact:

Toronto Hydro’s COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Businesses (CEAP-SB)

The Government of Ontario has introduced the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB) to support small business and registered charity customers struggling to pay their electricity bills as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. CEAP-SB provides a one-time, on-bill credit to eligible customers in need of financial assistance during this time.

Learn more:

Digital Main Street has officially launched the Future Proof Program

We have told you before about the many resources Digital Main Street offers businesses. Today we are excited to share information on their new program, called Future Proof, which will help businesses adapt, change and grow, in a world impacted by Covid-19.

Future Proof is a program that assists businesses with identifying new markets, pivoting their business model, and developing and implementing a deep digital transformation plan.

The program is meant as a detailed deep dive to support businesses that require support in either transforming their business model or developing and implementing an advanced digital transformation plan.

There are 3 streams:

1) TRANSFORMATION TEAMS: The Business Transformation Teams will provide specialized and in-depth digital transformation services and support that help existing main street firms adapt to changes in their respective sector.

2) DIGITAL MAIN STREET LAB: The Digital Main Street Lab is focused on building collaborations between technology companies and communities to pilot innovations that encourage transformational change along main street for businesses.

3) COMMUNITY COLLABORATION PROJECTS: The Community Collaboration Projects will connect regional innovation centres and other community-based organizations in a series of conversations that will reveal common issues facing small and medium main street businesses and focus on developing workable solutions.

Learn more at

PPE discount for members via group buy

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment and supplies) have become staple items for running just about any business.

The Ontario Government and the City of Toronto have lists of potential suppliers you can check out, (see Toronto / Ontario Lists of PPE Suppliers heading below.) Plus now a local company by the name of Evrlinx is offering BIAs a discount on PPE.

Evrlinx helps businesses access better pricing through group buying. They gather orders from businesses, just like yours, and every two weeks place bulk orders with their suppliers at a discount, which they pass onto you. (You receive your order typically one to two weeks after you place it, depending on where Evrlinx is in their order cycle. Their internal order cycle resets every other Thursday.)

To learn more please visit and choose St. Lawrence Market as your BIA. Questions? Please call Evrlinx at 613-659-3604 or email

If you decide to order from Evrlinx please let us know what you think of the product and service. Who you order your PPE from is 100% up to you. This is not an official endorsement of one or any specific suppliers. Thank you for keeping health and safety top of mind as we all navigate Covid-19.

ShopHERE giving Toronto’s independent businesses and artists the opportunity to develop an online store.

Covid-19 has highlighted for businesses how important it is to have an online presence. To address this, Digital Main Street is collaborating with Google, Shopify, Mastercard and Microsoft to build and optimize online stores for small independent businesses and artists in just a matter of days. The ShopHERE program is free for participants to sign up and have a Shopify store built. Businesses will be responsible for the monthly Shopify fee after the initial 90-day trial.

What do I get?
As part of the program you get…

1) An online store customized with your information, branding, logo, etc.
2) Hands-on assistance setting up and launching your online store.
3) Training to support your online store, including topics such as digital marketing, shipping and inventory management.
4) Access to free tools to help support the launch of you online store.

Signage: Mask Bylaw: poster & other important information for businesses

Masks to be worn indoors.
Wearing a mask or face covering is required in indoor public spaces in the City of Toronto as of July 7, 2020.  With some exceptions, all customers or visitors entering an indoor public premise are required to wear a mask or face covering while inside.

Please ensure that…

  • Masks and face coverings cover your nose, mouth and chin, without gapping.
  • Wash your hands before and after putting on your mask, and again after removal, (to reduce cross contamination.)
  • Store your mask in a clean paper bag, (to stop cross contamination.)
  • Wash your mask (and hands) regularly.

As a business you must:

  1. Create a mask policy for your establishment. Click here and see page 3 for a sample.
  2. Communicate this new policy to staff and customers.
  3. Train your staff on the policy and who is exempt.
  4. Post signs at all entrances reminding everyone to wear a mask and must include the language used in the bylaw. Click here to download a pre-made sign with the mandatory wording.

Please note: All staff, customers or visitors must wear a mask indoors, with some exceptions (e.g. children under the age of two and people with certain health conditions, employees in designated areas or protected by a physical barrier). Proof is not required if someone has an exemption.

To learn more details please visit the City of Toronto’s webpage, COVID 19: Mandatory Mask or Face Covering Bylaw and watch this on demand webinar by clicking here.

Signage: How to Wear A Cloth Mask, City of Toronto

Please refer to the sign above to learn how to wear a mask properly. To download and print, please click here.

Re-opening Guidance From City of Toronto

The City of Toronto is preparing to oversee the safe restart of some services and partial reopening of many businesses. Resources have been developed to help support business through this time. For guidance on safely reopening, business operators can reference the Toronto Public Health Planning Guide, and visit the COVID-19: Reopening Guidelines for Businesses & Organizations to view sector specific resources.

Decisions about when and how businesses can begin operating will be made by the Government of Ontario in accordance with its framework to reopen the province after COVID-19.

Toronto / Ontario Lists of PPE Suppliers

The City of Toronto has a webpage where you can find a list of suppliers of PPE and other needed goods & services, or apply to a be supplier. Please click here to visit the page to learn more and to download the most up to date list.

The province of Ontario has set up a Workplace PPE Supplier Directory, where employers can find suppliers who sell personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies to support a safe reopening of their workplaces.

Weekly Webinars for Toronto Businesses

These repeat weekly. You can attend more than once. Here are a few of the webinar titles:

1) Ask-An-Accountant – Applying for Government COVID-19 Funding Programs
2) Business AdviceTO Female Founders with SheEO
3) Business AdviceTO Retail with Retail Advantage
4) Business AdviceTO Tech with TechTO

Sign-up for future weekly Online Events & Webinars using the link below. (Scroll to the drop down labelled Online Events & Webinars once the page loads.)

Ontario: Resources to prevent COVID-19 in the workplace (by sector)

Ontario is releasing safety guidelines to protect workers, customers and the general public from COVID-19 as it prepares for a gradual reopening of the provincial economy.

These resources are available for different sectors. They will help employers and workers better understand how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Sector guidelines contain recommendations and tips for employers on how to keep workers safe on the job. Posters for both employers and workers also offer advice on preventative actions, including physical distancing and workplace sanitation. Employers are encouraged to download the posters to print and post in the workplace.

As new sectors of the economy begin to reopen, additional COVID-19 workplace safety resources will be added.

Click here now to continue reading and to access resources.

Relief and Recovery Fund – (Funding to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are unable to access the government’s existing support measures)

The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) is now accepting applications under the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF).

Regional Economy Funding Stream: This stream provides support to southern Ontario SMEs that do not qualify for, or have been declined for, current Government of Canada COVID-19 relief measures. Please visit the FedDev Ontario website for more information or to apply.

For full eligibility criteria and additional information, please visit FedDev Ontario’s RRRF page.

Social Distancing Signage for businesses

DOWNLOAD: Line Up Signage: Click here for signage for encouraging social distancing in lines.

Front Door Signage for businesses

DOWNLOAD: Front Door Signage: Click here for signage you can use on your front door.

Staff Screening Sheet

DOWNLOAD: Click here to download a screening checklist created by Toronto Health for your employees they can complete at the start of every shift.

Who can help me with government funding applications and general business advice?

The City of Toronto has launched the BusinessTO Support Centre to provide businesses with one-on-one support with applications for government support resources/funding programs & general business advice. Learn more by clicking here.

Where can I learn about the emergency benefit or the wage subsidy?

For Employers: Click here to read about The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), 75% wage
subsidy. Please note this program has been extended… For full details, including information regarding proposed legislative changes, (such as support for seasonal employees) please click here.

For Employees: Click here to read about The Canada Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB), $2k benefit
for impacted employees.

What is the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)?

To ensure that small businesses have access to the capital they need to see them through the current challenges, the Government of Canada has launched the new Canada Emergency Business Account, which has been implemented by eligible financial institutions in cooperation with Export Development Canada (EDC).

This $25 billion program provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs… click here to continue reading.

NEW UPDATE: May 19, 2020, The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced an expansion to the eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to include many owner-operated small businesses. This extended measure will help small businesses protect the jobs that Canadians rely on. Click here to continue reading and to learn criteria.

Where can I find answers to my payroll questions?

Canadian Payroll Association FAQ: a listing of frequently asked
questions and answers from employers regarding employee payroll during
the COVID-19 pandemic.

Who can I call with questions? 

The province has launched a toll-free line called the Stop the Spread Business Information Line, 1-888-444-3659 to provide support to Ontario businesses who have questions about the province’s recent emergency order to close at-risk workplaces following recommendations by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. Read the full press release by clicking here.

What is the Canadian Government doing to help?

The Government of Canada has assembled a webpage of Resources for Canadian Businesses experiencing the effects of COVID-19.

The page includes, but is not limited to:
1. Support for employees
2. Support for businesses
3. Business travel and events
4. Business in international markets

Please visit

What is the City of Toronto doing to help?

The city of Toronto has assembled a page with the information small businesses may need. on one single  It also details information at the provincial and federal levels. Consider bookmarking this page:

SURVEY: COVID-19 Impact Survey By St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood BIA / Old Town Toronto Members

Through the survey LINK below, please share how things have changed for you and your staff, due to COVID-19, and any advice you have for other businesses.


User Friendly List of Government Resources via Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam

Ward 13 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam’s office has compiled a user friendly list of resources offered from all levels of government in one place.

To access:

  1. Visit
  2. Scroll down to Links and Resources
  3. Choose User Friendly List of Government Resources

 One-Stop Information Centre For Businesses

The City of Toronto and the Toronto Region Board of Trade are partnering to deliver you a one-stop information centre where you will find the resources, tools, and critical support programs you need to manage the challenge you’re facing. Right now, you can watch and read how to access new government supports.


Canadian Federation of Independent Business

CFIB (Canadian Federation of Independent Business) has created an exceptional set of resources and FAQs including materials like a template lease deferral agreement to help with rent negotiations and other useful templates and guides.

Learn more:

10 Tips for closing your business securely

1)  Remove cash and place empty til in window/door.
2)  Lock visible goods in storage, (offsite if possible.)
3)  Post sign in door stating “NO CASH OR GOODS ON HAND/ YOU ARE ON CAMERA.”
4)  Ensure cameras, alarms and locks are all functioning properly.
5)  Leave lights on inside and out.
6)  Take a copy of insurance contacts, policies and inventory list.
7)  Post emergency key holder contact information inside, but not visible from windows.
8)  When checking on your business, do so during the day with a partner.
9)  Tell your business neighbours your plans and exchange contact information.
10) Report all suspicious activity by calling Toronto Police, non emergency at 416-808-2222.

Make sure your insurance is up to date

Right now, if something happens, the last thing you want deal with is a lapsed insurance policy. Make sure you have a copy of your insurance certificates and all the appropriate contacts (both at home and at work) and that your payments are up to date to avoid insurance interruption.

Am I a member?
Every business and commercial property owner within the boundaries of The St. Lawrence Market Business Improvement Area (BIA), also known at Old Town Toronto, are automatically members of our not-for-profit organization. To view a map of our boundaries, please click here now.

Old Town Toronto encourages you to follow all recommendations and orders of public health officials including, but not limited to, staying at home as much as possible. Together we will #FlattenTheCurve.