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The COVID-19 pandemic has affected businesses of every size. This page includes information on supports, services and relief programs that can assist business owners as the situation evolves and as the economy re-opens and recovers.

The Halton Small Business Centre is continuing to support Halton small businesses and working with our local community partners during COVID-19. Contact us for more information about our virtual services and programs. We’re here to help!

For more information, visit our Halton Business Blog (external link), follow Halton Business on Twitter (external link), follow Halton Business on Facebook (external link) or email For more information about supports, programs and opportunities specific to your community, please visit your local municipality’s website.

Current situation

  • On May 14, 2020 the Ontario Government announced additional seasonal services and activities that will be permitted to open on May 16, 2020:
    • golf courses;
    • marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches;
    • private parks and campgrounds (for the purposes of preparing for the season); and
    • businesses that board animals (such as stables).
  • In addition, assuming trends in key public health indicators continue to improve, Ontario’s first stage of reopening will begin on May 19, 2020 and will include:
    • retail services with street-front entrances;
    • seasonal businesses and recreational activities for individuals or single competitors, including indoor and outdoor non-team sport competitions (such as tennis, track and field and horse racing);
    • animal services (such as grooming, training and veterinary appointments); 
    • indoor/outdoor household services (such as housekeepers, cooks, cleaning and maintenance);
    • lifting essential workplace limits on construction; and
    • allowing certain health and medical services to resume.  
  • For more information, refer to the Province’s May 14, 2020 news release.

Non-essential businesses and services are to continue to remain closed until May 29, 2020, based on an Emergency Order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (see Non-essential businesses and service providers section).

Supports for all business owners

On April 27, 2020, the Ontario Government released A Framework for Reopening our Province, outlining criteria being used to advise the government on the loosening of emergency measures, as well as guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces.

On April 30, the Ontario Government released safety guidelines and posters to provide direction to those working in the following sectors as they prepare for a gradual reopening of businesses:

  • construction
  • food processing
  • restaurant and food services
  • agricultural
  • manufacturing
  • long-term care

Guidance documents developed by health and safety associations are also available to support a variety of sectors. These resources are to be used by employers to protect workers, customers and the general public from COVID-19.

Employers who have questions about reopening safely can call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659. Service is available from Monday to Sunday, between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Essential businesses and services that require workers to physically come into the workplace are encouraged to put the following measures into place to safeguard the wellbeing of employees and volunteers:

  • Review guidance from relevant industry associations (external link) to determine the steps workers need to take in your workplace.
  • Implement physical distancing (maintaining 2 metres/6 feet from other workers) by allowing staff to:
    • work from home, if possible;
    • participate in virtual meetings rather than meeting in person; and
    • work flexible hours, stagger start times and breaks, or stagger days they work in the workplace.
  • When physical distancing cannot be maintained, employers may implement the use of face coverings (non-medical masks).
  • If personal protective equipment (PPE) is provided by the employer, employees must be trained on the safe use, care and limitations of PPE, including putting on and taking off PPE (external PDF) as well as proper disposal.
  • Post signage to alert workers of any signs and symptoms of COVID-19
  • Display posters promoting hand-washing and respiratory hygiene
  • Make alcohol-based hand sanitizers with greater than 60% alcohol available throughout your facility.
  • Increase the frequency of environmental cleaning for all common areas and frequently touched surfaces. 
  • Ensure that cleaning supplies are available for employees to clean and disinfect their workspaces.
  • Encourage staff to:
  • Non-essential businesses will remain closed until June 9, 2020 as an Emergency Order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
  • The Government of Ontario has allowed the reopening of some non-essential businesses. Refer to the Current situation section for the latest information.
  • Refer to the Government of Ontario’s website for a listing of essential workplaces (external link)).
  • Where possible, businesses are encouraged to provide staff with necessary accommodations to work from home so operations can continue.
  • Businesses can call the Stop the Spread Information Line at 1-888-444-3659 with any questions about impacts to your business or employment.

The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging all aspects of our lives and as an employer, there are steps you can take to support your employee's health and well-being during this difficult time.

  • Develop a contingency or business continuity plan that outlines how your business will operate if a significant number of employees, contractors or other suppliers cannot come to your place of business.
  • Provide regular communication to your employees regarding steps your workplace is taking to prepare for/adapt to the pandemic including their expected roles.
  • Offer flexible work options (including working remotely) to staff where possible.
  • Consider reviewing sick leave policies for employees who are ill.
  • Promote your Employee Assistance Program if your employees need additional support.
  • Promote local mental health supports in Halton.

Employers can visit the Public Health Agency of Canada's Preventing COVID-19 in the workplace: Employers, employees and essential service workers page for further information.

If an employee is confirmed positive for COVID-19, the following steps should occur:

  • Employers are not required to report their employees to Halton Region Public Health. Confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19 are reported by health care providers and laboratories to public health departments.  
  • Employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate at home for 14 days (see Self-isolation tab on webpage).
  • Surfaces that were touched by the ill employee should be disinfected (external PDF) as soon as possible.
  • The employee will be asked to inform their employer that they have been confirmed positive for COVID-19. Halton Region Public Health will contact the employee to provide guidance, identify close contacts and perform a risk assessment for all exposures that may have occurred in the workplace. 
  • Halton Region Public Health will work closely with the employee who tested positive to identify all close contacts at work while the case was infectious including: clients, vendors or third-parties. Public Health may contact the employer to assist with identifying close contacts in the workplace as required. Individuals that have had close contact (spent extensive time within 2-metre radius) with the employee may need to take additional precautions, such as self-monitoring for symptoms or self-isolation.
  • If close contacts have been identified and the employee does not have their contact information, the employer will be asked to provide contact information for these individuals. Halton Region Public Health will follow-up with each of these individuals accordingly.
  • In some situations, employers may be directed by Public Health to notify all staff who worked during the exposure dates of their potential risk of infection as directed by Public Health. When notifying staff, employers must maintain confidentiality and not identify the name of the employee who was confirmed positive for COVID-19. In this communication, employers should consider explaining the actions that will be taken to protect the ongoing health and safety of employees (for example, cleaning and disinfection of the workplace).
  • Halton Region Public Health monitors individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and their close contacts. Public Health will advise these individuals when it is safe for them to return to work.
  • If an employee experiences an occupational illness (from exposure at the workplace) OR files a claim with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (external link), employers are required to provide written notice within four days of learning of the illness to:

Supports for specific industries

Programs for students/youth