Some Clarifications on the New Essential Businesses List
Ontario has revised their list of essential businesses over the weekend which resulted in the closing of many other businesses previously deemed essential, including seasonal campgrounds and trailer parks. However, some operators have expressed confusion as to what this means for camp and lodge operators across the Province. Here's a bit of a clarification that we've received from Government.
The declaration of the State of Emergency by the Government of Ontario needs to be revised every two weeks in order to make the decision on whether or not it will be extended for another two weeks. As a result, subsequent emergency orders, regulations and amendments issued under s.7.0.1 and 7.0.2(4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act are reviewed during this time.
The current emergency orders and the list of essential services/workplaces will be revised and updated when the Government revises the declaration for the State of Emergency on April 14th (two weeks from last extension). Government has made it clear that their recommendations to everyone is to stay home. This means no weekend getaways, no vacations, no visits with friends or family, etc.
We've received some clarification as to what the current essential services list means for "accommodations". As of right now, camps and lodges are still considered "accommodations". IMPORTANT NOTES: Any bookings taken after April 4th, 2020 need to be in relation to cover the needs of those who need a safe area to self isolate. We've been told that camps and lodges are still encouraged to book for late summer/fall, however, under the current legislature, camps would not be able to book any new guests for late April/May. This was specified under "Short Term Rentals" section of the essential services list. The ONLY exception for those who have trailer parks/seasonal campgrounds are if they provide accommodations to "snowbirds" who's trailer is their primary Canadian residence.
Government has stated that they will decide whether or not seasonal camps and lodges and their operations will be deemed essential as we get closer to the operating season. The reason for this, as previously mentioned, is due to the fact that Government needs to review the emergency declaration and all emergency orders every two weeks. They are focusing on businesses that are operational now, as to make better and clear decisions as the situation unfolds.
Camp operators and lodges are increasingly limited in the services they can offer. Any operator who is considering opening their doors in late May would need to consider the need to comply with the following Emergency Orders before making a decision. Another thing to consider is that the Government has implemented severe fines for any individual or business who breaks any of the emergency orders.
- Closure of all outdoor recreational amenities
- No groups larger than 5 individuals
- No fires due to a province-wide fire ban implemented to reduce strain on first responders.
- For dining areas, you would need to limit the amount of people who can come in, set-up distancing spaces (using tape or another method to keep people 2m apart from one another) and only provide take-out services
- Any public washrooms/showers on site would need to be regularly disinfected.
- Any shared common spaces would need to be closed due to social distancing requirements and gathering restrictions.
- In addition to this, the USA-Canada border remains closed to all non-essential travel (tourism is deemed non-essential in terms of border travel restrictions). We are also starting to see provincial border restrictions as well as domestic travel restrictions.
In addition to all these restrictions, new emergency orders and restrictions may be added as the situation progresses. Businesses who have questions about closures of at-risk workplaces or how emergency measures impact their business or employment can call Ontario's Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659. Help is available from Monday to Sunday, from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
In other words folks, all accommodations at this time are closed to anyone except those who cannot self-isolate in their own homes.