Niagara will move into the Red-Control stage of the provincial reopening framework as of 12:01am on Monday, March 1st. This decision is on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Williams, and our local Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Hirji.
Trips outside the home are still only recommended for essential purposes (work, school, groceries/pharmacy, health care, assisting vulnerable individuals or exercise and physical activity). Families should not visit any other household or allow visitors in their homes – people who live alone can gather with one household, and all social gatherings should still be avoided.
Moving to the Red-Control Zone means that:
Places of worship can open at 30% capacity
Restaurants can open with a limit of 10 patrons
Gyms and recreational sports can open with 10 indoors, 25 outdoors
Retail moves to 50% capacity
Social gatherings are limited to 5 indoors, 25 outdoors
Event and meeting spaces open with 10 indoors, 25 outdoors
Personal care services, excepting those which require a face covering to be removed, can return
Further details of the Red-Control stage can be viewed here.
Ontarians aged 80 and older are set to start receiving COVID-19 vaccines in the third week of March as the province expands its immunization campaign. Retired Gen. Rick Hillier, the head of the province’s vaccine task force, announced a specific timeline for distributing the shots today, noting the schedule depends on vaccine supply. An online booking system and service desk will become available March 15. Ontario then aims to vaccinate adults aged 75 and older starting April 15. Shots will go to those 70 and older beginning May 1, while people aged 65 and older will be vaccinated starting June 1 and those 60 and older the following month.
The UK, for comparison, has now vaccinated over 18 million people, and has already begun offering vaccines to those aged 60 and above, having already vaccinated older age groups and vulnerable populations. Vaccination of every willing person aged 50 and older in the UK will almost be complete by the time Ontarians aged 80 and older are offered the vaccine. Israel expects 95% of its population to be vaccinated by the second week of March. The successful Israeli vaccination program has already resulted in significant loosening of restrictions. Malls and zoos are open, as well as gyms and hotels for those who can prove vaccination. Concerts and sporting events are now being permitted with up to 500 people in attendance.
The Ontario government is providing up to $2 million in additional funding to extend the Build Back Better pilot project through 2023, and help eligible municipalities rebuild infrastructure that was damaged by extreme weather to a higher standard. This investment is part of Ontario’s Municipal Recovery Assistance (MDRA) program.
Under Build Back Better, municipalities are eligible to receive up to 15 per cent above the estimated cost of rebuilding damaged infrastructure to make it more resilient to extreme weather. Municipalities can use the additional funding to make improvements such as raising roads to ensure better overland flow of water, improving the columns or footings of a bridge, or enlarging the size of ditches and catch basins to increase the capacity to hold water.
The Ontario government announced regulatory amendments aimed at the support of working families and improving the child care and early years sector while advance the province’s dual priorities of accessibility and affordability for parents.
The regulatory amendments, which take effect on March 8, 2021, will:
Exempt certain authorized recreational providers from their three-hour operating limit.
Enhance health and safety protections in licenced child care settings, such as requirements to support contact tracing by local public health, new requirements for home-based child care and updates to the safe storage of potentially poisonous and hazardous items.
Reduce regulatory/administrative burden on child care operators by removing redundant and unnecessary requirements for all providers. These include the removal of duplicate requirements related to the collection of children’s emergency contact information, allowing records and documents required by the regulation to be kept in digital format, and no longer requiring licensees to seek ministry approval for children 44 months and up to bring their own meals from home.
City of Welland
For Immediate Release
FEBRUARY 25, 2021
WARMING CENTRE OPERATIONS CONTINUE AT BUS TERMINAL WITH INFORMATION ENHANCEMENTS
Welland, ON – The City of Welland recognizes the need to further inform our community that the Main Street Bus Terminal is currently available as a Warming Centre for those in need of some reprieve from the cold weather. In addition, staff have been undergoing information sessions as well as working with our Niagara Region partners to ensure those who require assistance can get the information and support they need.
Warming Centres are traditionally activated when an Extreme Cold Weather Alert (ECWA) is issued based on a forecast from Environment and Climate Change Canada of minus 15 degrees Celsius or colder. While the temperature forecast may not always reach this threshold, the City has deemed the Welland Transit Terminal an activate Warming Station during hours of operation.
The Warming Centre will follow all COVID-19 protocols to ensure the safety of those using the transit terminal. Protocols include encouraging physical distancing and the mandatory use of masks, ensuring hand washing / hand sanitizing, and enhanced cleaning throughout the facility.
Community members who are concerned about an individual or individuals who they have encountered that are homeless and unsheltered can call 2-1-1 to be connected with the Niagara Assertive Street Outreach Team or visit https://niagara.cioc.ca/record/NIA1831?Number=59 for more information.
Welland Transit Terminal (160 East Main Street) general hours of operation:
Monday to Saturday 8 am – 8 pm
Sunday 10 am – 5 pm
Niagara Public Health offers clarification to businesses
In response to inquiries from the GNCC, Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Mustafa Hirji offered greater clarity on recent public health decisions in Niagara.
The two recent Section 22 orders for food service establishments and retailers would be lifted once infections are under control. The most reasonable expectation would be that once Niagara is moved into Green-Prevent, and if there has been no increase in the infection rate for 3-4 weeks, the orders could be lifted, while paying close attention to infection rates. If rates then begin to rise, the orders could be reinstated.
The orders also reflect those made in Hamilton and Halton. Lifting those orders could be done in coordination with those regions, even if that means lifting them earlier, in order to keep the business environment similar for all three regions.
The primary concern for public health is the possibility of a third wave, which modelling indicates could be imminent if reopening is not careful and cautious. Additionally, a third wave could be fueled by new variants of the virus which are more contagious, and against which vaccines may be less effective. The hope is that vaccination and warmer weather will allow us to get COVID-19 under control and allow a safe re-opening and a lifting of the restrictions on business.
The Medical Officer of Health stated that Niagara had not developed and was not following an independent reopening framework. He noted that such a framework was unlikely to be helpful since the province does not always heed local advice (for example, in June 2020, when Dr. Hirji advocated for moving to Stage 2 reopening more rapidly but was ignored). The provincial public health agency has put out science-based conditions for reopening, effectively requiring having metrics similar to the Green-Prevent level. The province appears not to be following this advice with more rapid reopening in some parts of the province, but cautious reopening for Niagara and other regions (e.g. North Bay Parry Sound’s metrics are consistent with the Yellow-Protect level, yet they continue under a stay-at-home order).
Finally, in December, the province prioritized vaccine to regions in Grey and Red. Niagara was Orange at the time, and thus did not receive vaccine doses until a month later. If the province adopts a similar targeted approach again, the Medical Officer of Health is hopeful that Niagara’s status in Grey would mean prioritization.
City of Welland
For Immediate Release
FEBRUARY 24, 2021
RECREATION & CULTURE TO START VIRTUAL FITNESS PROGRAMMING
Welland, ON – The City of Welland Recreation & Culture team is expanding virtual programs to include fitness classes. Registration for all virtual programs is open now at wellness.welland.ca. The municipality understands the important role that recreation programming has on our community, and with the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19, it’s important to provide as many healthy recreation options to our residents as we can, while respecting Provincial restrictions.
The online Wellness Guide allows the Welland Community Wellness Complex (WCWC) to make changes in real time and extend programming when needed and we are expanding and updating to meet the needs of the community. Recreation and Culture has implemented virtual programs such as scavenger hunts, virtual drop-in and chats, winter weather outdoor activities and now with virtual fitness classes as part of a #KeepingWellandConnected initiative; these programs have enjoyed increasing popularity.
New and existing members of the WCWC will be able to work up a sweat in the safety of their own homes and participate weekly through live Zoom classes starting March 1st. If you want to try yoga, weights, aerobic or stretch classes for the first time or if you a seasoned participant, the option is now available to you. Registration is available online at wellness.welland.ca.
Relax Refresh Yoga
Tone & Fit Beginner
Tone & Fit Intermediate
Low Impact Aerobics & Toning
Weight for It
Yoga – Seniors
For more information and how to register for the programming, please visit our website, wellness.welland.ca or call 905 735 1700 ext. 4000.
Today, the Department of Finance released draft legislative proposals that would implement technical amendments to ensure these programs better support the businesses and workers who are facing challenges as a result of the pandemic.
The draft legislative proposals released today would:
Provide applicants with more flexibility in determining the revenue decline for the wage and rent subsidies for the qualifying period from December 20, 2020 to January 16, 2021.
Ensure that Lockdown Support is available to an eligible property owner whose tenant is not arm’s length but has a qualifying business at the property that is subject to a lockdown and must shut their doors or significantly restrict their activities under a public health order.
Today, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, introduced Bill C-24, to increase the maximum number of weeks available to workers through EI regular benefits. The proposed legislation would provide workers with up to a maximum of 50 weeks for claims that are established between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.
In addition, self-employed workers who have opted in to the EI program to access special benefits would be able to use a 2020 earnings threshold of $5,000, compared to the previous threshold of $7,555. This change would be retroactive to claims established as of January 3, 2021 and would apply until September 25, 2021.
As part of this proposed legislation, all international travellers who need to quarantine or isolate upon their return to Canada, including people returning from vacation, would be made ineligible to receive support from any of the Canada Recovery Benefits for the period of their mandatory quarantine or isolation. These changes would be retroactive to October 2, 2020.
As announced on Feb. 19, 2021, the Government will be increasing the number of weeks available under the Canada Recovery Benefits through regulations. This includes:
increasing the number of weeks available under the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) by 12 weeks, extending the maximum duration of the benefits from 26 weeks to up to 38 weeks; and,
increasing the number of weeks available under the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) from the current 2 weeks to 4 weeks.
To ensure employees in the federally regulated private sector can access the proposed additional weeks of CRCB and CRSB without the risk of losing their jobs, the maximum length of the leave related to COVID-19 under the Canada Labour Code will also be extended.
Employers should be aware that employees can be brought back at reduced hours/pay and still qualify for EI payments. Detailed can be found here.
Have a great weekend,
60 East Main Street