On this page, you will find answers to FAQs received by the NOTO staff and board of directors. The answers are regularly updated as the situation evolves.
- Questions Related to Guests
- Questions Related to Business
- Questions Related to Health and Safety & Cleaning
1. What can I tell my guests if they have concerns?
As the situation develops, and once travel for tourism and recreational purposes are no longer restricted, we recommend you consider the following:
- Share with them any additional precautions you are taking. This can include sharing information on COVID-19, prevention measures you have taken and enhanced cleaning protocols. You are welcome to share NOTO's health and safety protocols & NOTO's infographics with them.
- Emphasize that your facilities are away from highly populated areas. You are located in a clean, natural environment with little to no contact with other individuals.
- Provide your guests with travel tips:
- Have liquid hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes in your vehicle.
- Use disposable gloves when pumping gas and dispose of gloves when finished.
- Wash your hands before and after each travel stop.
- Bring garbage bags to dispose of used wipes, tissues, gloves and food items inside your vehicle and deposit into garbage receptacles at each travel stop.
- Plan ahead and bring food to avoid eating in restaurants.
- Have liquid hand sanitzer and disinfectant wipes in your carry-on.
- Wipe down frequently touched surfaces in and around your seating area. Dispose of used wipes and wash/sanitize your hands once you are done.
- Use alternative flights that avoid major international airports.
- You can also direct guests to travel information from various websites: Government of Canada, World Health Organization, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
2) What advice do you have for operators getting calls from guests inquiring about cancelling their trips?
We have reached out to a number of our members to ask them how they are dealing with these calls. We know that relationships you build with your clients are important to you and the success of your business but at a time like this, so is the revenue that you have generated from your deposits to date. Both are critical to your business' survival. Finding a way to retain both can be a challenge but it is something you need to consider. Remember, this pandemic was impossible to foresee for anyone and it is not your fault that you cannot be open. A number of operators have shared with us the way they are dealing with calls from guests inquiring about cancelling. This is what we have heard:
At this point, most are offering the option to postpone trips for later in the season. Bear Outfitters could offer to postpone spring hunting trips to the fall (if they can accommodate the increased number of guests for the fall)
- For those guests who wish to cancel or whose trip is being cancelled due to your inability to open, offer to defer their trip to next year and offer to apply a percentage of the deposit they paid for their 2020 trip towards their 2021 (ie, 60-75% roll over). This gives you the opportunity to retain some of the deposit towards this year and shows your guests goodwill by sharing the cost with them.
- Another option would be to offer to spread the deposit over two future trips. This would help to minimize future impacts.
- Even if you have a no refund policy for deposits, these options may help to retain clients and ensure revenues for next year.
- It is not recommended that you return deposits entirely. This will put the future of your business in serious jeopardy.
In the future, if you do not do so already, it is recommended that you encourage your clients to purchase trip cancellation insurance. There are a number of companies that offer it and we can provide more details to anyone who may be interested in learning more.
3) I’m afraid of double-booking in the event that the border does reopen. What should I do?
As a business owner you should ask yourself the following questions: If you’re housing essential workers, will the workers be back next year? Will your guests be repeat clientele? What does your future look like if you don’t reach a certain number of bookings? Does the fate of your business depend on the border opening? Can you fill vacancies/replace US bookings with domestic clients? Your business is about tourism and depending on how you answer these questions, that’s a decision you would need to take.
4) How many guests can I book in one cabin?
UPDATED ANSWER: Accommodations may only be open to those in need of housing during the current emergency period. This depends on the gathering restrictions at the time. As it currently stands, indoor gatherings are not permitted. This means may only book individuals from the same household.
1) How can I continue to market?
As the situation develops, and once travel for tourism and recreational purposes are no longer restricted, we recommend you consider the following:
- Keep an eye on where the virus has been confirmed and avoid new marketing initiatives in high-risk regions.
- Emphasize that your businesses are located in isolated outdoor environments, away from highly populated areas in Ontario if appropriate.
- You may wish to spend more dollars in marketing domestically to fill vacancies.
- Contact the destination marketing organization in your region for advice as well as potential new marketing initiatives and opportunities.
- Check with Destination Ontario to leverage their marketing campaigns.
- We advise against discounting your packages in any new marketing campaigns. You are providing a healthy and safe vacation destination option.
2) Should I continue my work permit application?
Yes. We encourage all operators to continue their work permit applications during this time. Please note: The Government is encouraging individuals to apply for work permits online. Due to service disruptions related to COVID-19, they are experiencing difficulties receiving and processing applications submitted by mail or in person at a VAC.
3) If we can't open our business to the public, can we still hire staff to do maintenance?
UPDATED ANSWER: Yes. However, the Ministry of Labour will expect that you have some kind of enhanced health and safety policy that your employees have signed and proof that you have applied these enhanced measures to ensure the health and safety of your employees. NOTO has created a policy you can use to help you meet these requirements. Click here to access this policy. We do not recommend having more than 5 people on-site per shift to ensure you meet the gathering restrictions and to ensure social distancing requirements are met. View additional resources and advice in the Maintenance section of this webpage.
4) Are accommodations deemed essential?
UPDATED ANSWER: During the Province-Wide Shutdown, accommodations of any type can only be made available to those in need of housing during the emergency period. View restrictions here.
5) Can I continue to book guests for the 2021 summer season?
UPDATED ANSWER: Yes. Please view the current service restrictions here.
6) When is the Canada-USA border going to re-open for tourism/leisurely travel?
Unfortunately, no one has the answer to this question. The length of time the border will remain closed will depend on the actions taken by both Governments and the actions of the people residing in both countries.
7) When will American business owners be allowed to cross the Canada-US border to check on our properties?
UPDATED ANSWER: Unfortunately, US camp owners can not cross the Canada-US border to check on their properties without applying for a work permit. Please keep an eye on the border crossing section of this page for updates.
8) What support programs have been made available so far?
Please view the Government Support section of our COVID-19 Page.
9) Does the order which prohibits camping on crown land impact my business if I operate with an LUP?
UPDATED ANSWER: Camping on crown land is no longer prohibited. Those with LUPs are not impacted by any emergency order impacting crown land, only those with regards to the essential services list and other business-related COVID-19 orders (closure of outdoor recreational amenities, restaurant restrictions, gathering restrictions, etc.).
10) Can I open my boat launch and allow the general public to use it?
UPDATED ANSWER: Please view the COVID-19 Restrictions for the latest updates.
11) Can I open my accommodations to house essential service workers?
Yes. Please view the Housing Essential Workers section of this page.
12) What are the guidelines for cabin occupancy?
Please view Ontario’s gathering restrictions and zoning classification restrictions for more details.
13) Will the 14-day quarantine be waived if border reopens?
Many advoacy organizations are pressing Government to eliminate the 14-day quarantine. In order for this to be considered, Government will need to think about implementing rapid testing, vaccination cards, as well as other health and safety measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.
14) Can those staying seasonal campgrounds and trailer parks have guests come over?
During lockdowns, seasonal campgrounds and trailer parks must be closed. Only those with seasonal passes or those in need of housing are permitted. When open, those staying at a seasonal campground or trailer park must comply with gathering restrictions. This means campers and their guests must adhere to social gathering size restrictions and maintain physical distancing (2m or 6ft) with people outside their household and social circle, and when outside of their campsites.
15) We are a fly-in lodge. What if people are showing symptoms? What do we do?
Build an evacuation plan. Reach out to your local health unit, insurance company and air carrier (if applicable) to establish this plan. Ensure PPE is available including a hazmat suit in case you need to evacuate the person yourself. Identify various evacuation areas. Maybe there are boat or ATV access points you or emergency crews may access rather than flying out the individual.
16) What do the zones mean for bars and restaurants? What about dining halls?
UPDATED ANSWER: We are currently under a province-wide lockdown. All non-essential businesses must be closed. Restaurants and bars can only provide take-out or delivery services. Accommodations of all types can only be open to those in need of housing during the emergency period. Each zone has different restrictions. You may not offer buffet style dinners in any zone. Remember to properly disinfect all tables and chairs between clients and to clean frequently touched surfaces (i.e door handles, washroom spaces) regularly.
17) Are masks mandatory?
UPDATED ANSWER: Masks must be worn in all indoor public spaces and businesses. Masks must also be worn if social distancing can not be maintained. Some health unit districts have implemented mandatory masks for individuals who are gathering with others outside their household while outdoors.
18) Can I open my playground and water play structures?
UPDATED ANSWER: We are currently under a province-wide lockdown. All indoor recreational amenities must be closed. Permitted outdoor activities are highlighted under the state of emergency regulations. Each zone has different restrictions surrounding recreational amenities. Please check the Government’s website for more details.
19) Can I open my common areas at max capacity?
UPDATED ANSWER: We are currently under a province-wide lockdown. All non-essential businesses must be closed. Accommodations of all types can only be open to those in need of housing during the emergency period. All common areas must be closed. You must ensure that you are in compliance with the current gathering restrictions and ensure there’s enough space to maintain a physical distancing (2m or 6ft) distance between all individuals.
1) What would be the minimum amount of time to leave a cabin/boat vacant prior to cleaning?
The virus lives on various surfaces for different amounts of time. Health Canada has specified that the virus can live up to 4 hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to 3 days on plastics and stainless steel. The amount of time the virus can survive also depends on the relative humidity and temperature of the environment. The good news is that the virus is easily inactivated by using simple disinfectants and/or diluted bleach solutions. If you have the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning solutions, you may safely proceed with a deep clean of the accommodations a few hours after your guest’s departure. For additional safety, and to minimize the amount of deep cleaning you would need to do, you may choose to leave the accommodations vacant for 24 to 72 hours. This decision would be yours to make and you would need to consider your bookings, staffing, PPE and cleaning product supply, etc.
2) Where does leather fit in in terms of disinfection?
Leather is a porous surface. Although there are no exact timelines as to how long COVID-19 may live on porous surfaces, Health Canada and the CDC both state that the virus can live longer on hard surfaces vs porous ones. You would need to use cleaners suitable to that surface, and ensure you follow the instruction labels to ensure proper contact time prior to wiping off for adequate disinfection.
3) What kind of mask is recommended?
N95 masks should be reserved for medical professionals. You can use medical grade surgical masks or use non-medical masks. The Government of Canada states the following for non-medical masks or face coverings: they need to be made of at least two layers of tightly woven material such as cotton or linen and be large enough to completely cover a person's mouth and nose without gaping and can be secured to a person's head with ties or ear loops.
4) Where can we find PPE?
Mask, safety goggles, and hand sanitizer has been made available through our Preferred Suppliers. NOTO is also collecting business names and including them on our COVID-19 webpage. If you know of any business who is selling these products, please let us know and we will include them in this list. The Government of Ontario also created a PPE directory which you can use.
5) Should ceilings and walls be regularly disinfected as well?
There is no need to disinfect ceilings between each client. In terms of cleaning, it is good practice to clean ceilings every once and a while to remove dirt/dust that may accumulate, especially around light fixtures. For walls, several organizations and Government agencies encourage the cleaning of walls where they have been visibly soiled or where individuals may commonly touch the walls, including areas to access/use a wall mounted item. This would include disinfecting the walls near the entrance as many may lean on the wall to put on/take off their shoes, walls near kitchen appliances, and walls by the beds.
6) What should we do about pots, pans, dishes and bakeware?
The concern with these items is more focused on the items that touch your mouth. In most cabins, dish sets are provided and individuals are expected to wash them. We highly encourage operators post signage as identified in the appendices of the health and safety protocols.
7) Cleaning/disinfection of dishes – is hand washing good enough or should we move to dishwashers?
Dishwasher is best as the hot water will provide additional disinfection however handwashing dishes with soap and water will do the job. Please ensure dishes are completely dry prior to re-use.
8) What about leaving accommodation between guests? Should we wait 24 hours before staff goes in and another 24 hours post-cleaning before new guests arrive? What are hotels doing?
Most hotels are waiting 24 hours prior to having housekeeping staff go in and clean. The longer you leave the area vacant, the less product you need to use to completely disinfect the accommodation unit. The virus lives of various surfaces for different amounts of time. Health Canada has specified that the virus can live up to 4 hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to 3 days on plastics and stainless steel. The amount of time the virus can survive also depends on the relative humidity and temperature of the environment. The good news is that the virus is easily inactivated by using simple disinfectants and/or diluted bleach solutions. If you have the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning solutions, you may safely proceed with a deep clean of the accommodations a few hours after your guest’s departure. For additional safety, and to minimize the amount of deep cleaning you would need to do, you may choose to leave the accommodations vacant for 24 to 72 hours. This decision would be yours to make and you would need to consider your bookings, staffing, PPE and cleaning product supply, etc.
9) Do you recommend not providing bedding or do you recommend washing and drying?
If you are short handed, you may consider having guests bring their own bedding. We are a high service industry and we don’t want to make this as an official recommendation but it would depend on your business and where you can find efficiencies if you are a little strapped. Ideally, guests should bring their own pillows. You could provide blankets and other linens and launder them upon the guests’ departure but definitely encourage individuals to bring their own pillows as they breath directly on those.
10) What about hang drying linens?
All linens should be laundered using detergent and hot water. The key is to ensure the items are completely dry prior to reuse. You may choose to hang dry, however a dryer is best.
11) Are there any recommendations for outdoor seating (Muskoka chairs, tables, benches, etc.)?
Ensure they are 2m apart, disinfect regularly and post signage to warn people that they may be exposed to COVID-19 by using this equipment and of social distancing requirements.
12) Cleaners are hard on the environment, are there any eco friendly products that can be used?
Ecolab cleaning products have been classified as an effective cleaner against COVID-19 by the Government of Canada. Please ensure you read and follow the instructions on the product label to ensure proper disinfection.
13) Should we encourage guests to open window to increase ventilation upon departure?
The CDC highly recommends taking measures to improve air ventilation, including opening doors and windows to improve circulation. Encouraging guests to open windows upon departure could definitely be adopted as a best-practice.
14) Any recommendation for products that are water safe for power washing boats?
Unfortunately, we could not find a product that is 100% water safe. One product that has been deemed as an effective disinfectant against COVID-19 is Spray Nine’s Marine Cleaner however it’s safety data sheet does not have any ecological information. We recommend reaching out to Boating Ontario for more information on cleaners.
FAQ's From Other Resources:
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has put together a FAQ sheet of their own featuring questions they've received from small businesses across the country.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada have also put together a FAQ sheet surrounding questions on business insurance.