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TIAO's COVID-19 Response

TIAO's COVID-19 portal for the very latest updates, access to grants and advocacy efforts.

The COVID-19 pandemic has and continues to have a catastrophic impact on the tourism industry in Ontario.  In this section of our website you will find the latest information on TIAO's advocacy efforts on a provinical and federal level. 

For information regarding Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, including support for individuals, businesses, sectors and communities, please click here.
For economic supports available for the tourism industry , please visit the following TIAO resource pages: Funding and Grants and Municipalities Outreach.


TIAO's Recommendations to Government


TIAO Supports Creating a US PreClearance Facility at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport

TIAO submitted a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau in support of Nieuport Aviation’s recommendation to create a US PreClearance Facility at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport plays a crucial role in providing rapid, streamlined access from the heart of Canada’s financial centre. It supports Ontario’s visitor economy while providing thousands of jobs for middle-class families in downtown Toronto.

For the tourism industry, an increase in visitors to the Greater Toronto Area would bring in direct economic benefit to the hotel sector and in turn benefit other local tourism and hospitality operators and suppliers, including attractions, transportation, restaurants, and retail. With tourism businesses struggling to recover from unprecedented revenue losses, staggering debt, a labour crisis, and the recent slowdown in recovery brought about by the Omicron variant, an increase in visitorship would help our operators rebuild more quickly from the impacts of the pandemic.

As the world returns to travel post-pandemic, TIAO strongly supports Nieuport Aviation’s recommendation for a U.S. PreClearance Facility at the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. This investment will play an important role in driving favourable economic outcomes that would benefit both Toronto and Ontario as we continue to strive for a strong post-pandemic recovery.

Read our letter here 

TIAO will continue to support our partners in recovery and in expanding the economic impact of Ontario’s tourism industry.

TIAO Calls on the Federal Government for CEBA and RRRF Debt Relief

This week, in support of our CEBA and RRRF advocacy campaign, TIAO sent a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau calling for further CEBA and RRRF debt relief. 

The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) and the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) have both been crucial in supporting tourism businesses and organizations across Canada and in Ontario to mitigate the financial pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. CEBA provided businesses and not-for-profits with interest-free loans, while the RRRF supported businesses that were ineligible for other federal supports or businesses already receiving COVID relief but required additional liquidity support.  

In Ontario’s tourism industry, as many as 8 in 10 tourism businesses have relied on CEBA and RRRF loans to keep their business afloat over the course of the pandemic. In our January 2022 survey, 7 in 10 tourism businesses reported that CEBA and RRRF loan relief would help their businesses not only survive 2022, but help them overcome fiscal challenges to aid in long-term recovery. 

While we recognize that the Government of Canada has recently extended the interest-free repayment period for CEBA and RRRF loans to December 2023, this will not be enough given the staggering levels of debt accumulation in our industry and the slow pace of recovery as a result of the Omicron variant.  

To help businesses more quickly hire staff, ramp up capacity, and rebuild, we are urging the federal government to consider increasing both CEBA’s and the RRRF’s maximum loan forgiveness amount by up to $10,000 if the balance of the loan is repaid by the end of the 0% interest-free grace period; and extending the interest-free repayment period for CEBA loans and RRRF loans to December 31, 2024.  

Read the letter here 

TIAO will continue to advocate for debt relief measures that support the recovery and rebuild of tourism operators across the province.  

Call to Eliminate On-Arrival COVID-19 PCR Testing in Canadian Airports

TIAO supports the recent industry calls on the federal government to stop on-arrival testing for fully vaccinated travellers showing no symptoms of COVID-19 and to redeploy those PCR tests into Canada for community use.  

The high positivity rate in communities across the country and within Ontario is impacting our ability to recover as an industry. The lack of access to PCR testing at the community level is prolonging the reopening of the economy, as COVID-19 testing has long shown to be a key tool in containing the spread of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Without adequate PCR testing, the recovery of the tourism industry will continue to be delayed.  

As all persons travelling to Canada must take a PCR test prior to arrival at this time, there is no health or scientific rationale for a second test upon arrival. With lack of tests at the community level, doubling up of testing for travellers with an incredibly low positivity rate is not the best option. Redeploying these tests back to the community level would not only benefit local and regional tourism businesses – it would benefit the overall wellbeing of Canadians. 

TIAO, along with TIAC, other industry organizations, and your government, have worked hard to keep travel and tourism safe. Now is the time to shift testing resources to where they’re needed most. Removing arrivals PCR testing from Toronto Pearson airport alone would free up 8,000 tests a day for the GTA, which will help keep our most vulnerable safe.  

We are calling on the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario to implement changes to arrivals testing processes to help ensure scarce PCR tests are used where they’re needed most.  

To read our letter, please visit here.

To read Chief Medical Officers of Health for Air Canada, Toronto Pearson, and WestJet’s open letter, please visit here. 

TIAO Advocates for COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant and Additional Financial Supports for the Tourism and Hospitality Industry


TIAO has worked with our partners tirelessly to advocate for measures which help keep our tourism and hospitality businesses open. The rapid spread of the Omicron variant coupled with the recent closures of and restrictions on indoor settings affect a large number of our sectors and threaten to slow down recovery for the over 200,000 tourism and hospitality operators across Ontario.  

On January 6, 2022, TIAO and the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel and Motel Association (ORHMA) sent a joint letter to the Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy, Ontario’s Minister of Finance, to advocate for additional financial supports for the tourism and hospitality industry given the immediate and longer-term financial impact of the Omicron wave. We advocated for an extension of the Ontario Small Business Support Grant for businesses whose revenues are directly and/or indirectly impacted by current public health restrictions. This recommendation fed directly into the province’s new COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant, which will provide support for a number of our sectors forced to close indoor settings, such as restaurants, live entertainment venues, meeting and event spaces, tour and guide services, and museums and similar attractions.  

Reiterating our message in our letter, we continue to emphasize the need to support businesses left off the eligibility list, such as cottages, cabins, and bed-and-breakfast establishments that will not be able to benefit from the Ontario Staycation Tax Credit while closed. 

Read the rest of our recommendations in our letter here.

TIAO will continue working with our partners to advocate for government supports which alleviate immediate financial pressure and support the recovery and rebuild of our industry

Permanent Alcohol Wholesale Discount on LCBO Sales


The pandemic has brought difficulties to all sectors in Ontario, but especially the hospitality industry, as they have faced significant burdens throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses have faced a perfect storm of catastrophic reductions in revenues, increasing costs for supplies and new costs to adapt their businesses to implement health and safety protocols and proof of immunisation checks where necessary.  

In TIAO’s 2020 and 2021 pre-budget submissions, we supported our colleagues at ORHMA and other stakeholders to call for a 20% reduction in wholesale alcohol pricing to support the province’s food and beverage operators. As noted by ORHMA at the time, “licensees 2019 LCBO Purchases represented $577,465,000 which is 9% of LCBO’s total revenues beverage alcohol purchased by licensed establishments, such as bars and restaurants, make up the second-largest LCBO sales channel following consumer direct purchases.”  

In a win for ORHMA, TIAO, and colleagues that have campaigned for cuts to wholesale pricing, the Ontario government has answered that call today with a permanent additional 5% wholesale discount on LCBO sales to licensees, bringing the total discount rate to 10% and eliminating the 6% markup on LCBO wine and spirit charges. When combined with HST recovery and container deposit fees, these licensees will effectively pay 20% less than retail prices for alcohol purchased wholesale from the LCBO  

Over three quarters of Ontario’s hospitality operators will benefit from this support which will aid in their tough recovery.  

At this crucial time, it is imperative that the hospitality industry can maximize profits. In addition to supporting cash flow with the increased uncertainty caused by the Omicron variant, beverage alcohol price reductions will directly flow to a hospitality business’ bottom line, giving the business an opportunity to re-hire staff and expand operations.  

We congratulate the government on this important step that will deliver tangible support to the front-line. 

Please see here for more information. 

Pass Bill C-2 Without Delay, the Tourism Industry’s Survival Depends On It

After twenty-one months navigating the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, financial support continues to be vital to the tourism industry. 

The federal government is currently considering Bill C-2 which, if passed, would provide hard-hit tourism and hospitality businesses with much-needed wage and rent subsidies through the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program.  

With the added uncertainty caused by the discovery of the new Omicron variant, TIAO alongside the Hardest Hit Coalition recommends the swift passing of Bill C-2 which will protect jobs and ensure the financial solvency of tourism businesses in Ontario.   

Bill C-2 is before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance right now, and TIAC President and CEO Beth Potter has already addressed MPs on how vital this support is to our industry. That is why TIAO is joining TIAC and the Hardest Hit Coalition in calling for the timely passing of this Bill to get support to our businesses who need it most – and, whilst at the same time, joining TIAC in championing solutions that best meet the realities of seasonal businesses. 

We are asking that you send a letter to your local MP urging them to vote in favour of this Bill and pass it without delay – as our survival depends on it. 

To send a letter, please visit here

To send a tweet, please visit here.

TIAO Calls for Full Inclusion of Seasonal Businesses in the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program


In a letter to Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, TIAO welcomed the introduction of Bill C-2, which has initiated the process for the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program to be considered by Parliament, and called for important revisions to the program to ensure it meets its objectives. Specifically, TIAO called for seasonality to be addressed in the program parameters.  

While expenses continue to accumulate for operators in the off-season, this aspect of seasonal operation is not reflected in current program stipulations, limiting the qualifying periods seasonal businesses can apply for and potential wage and rent subsidy amounts. Yet, seasonal businesses have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, through the late border reopening and prior seasonality restrictions in the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) programs; this has resulted in two peak seasons lost for seasonal operators, reduced revenue to sustain the off-season, and more limited financial support, respectively.  

With the added uncertainty caused by the discovery of the new Omicron variant, TIAO recommended the revision of seasonality restrictions with the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program to protect jobs and ensure the financial solvency of seasonal businesses in Ontario.  

Read the letter here

TIAO Win: Unpaid IDEL to be Extended to July 30, 2022 to Protect Jobs and Businesses


The Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development (MLTSD) has confirmed that they will extend unpaid infectious disease emergency leave (IDEL) until July 30, 2022. Unpaid IDEL temporarily freezes layoffs to protect employees, allowing them to be reinstated, be free from penalty, and earn credits for length of employment and seniority; and protects businesses from the obligation to issue costly termination payouts once temporary layoff periods exceed the permitted length.  

TIAO welcomes the announcement, which is in direct response to advocacy by TIAO and ORHMA on unpaid IDEL. On November 24, 2021, TIAO and ORHMA submitted a joint letter calling on MLTSD to extend unpaid IDEL for hard-hit tourism and hospitality sectors, as the current pace of business is not yet sufficient in all sectors to begin recalling laid off staff at the current timeline.  

Today’s announcement will help protect tourism and hospitality jobs and the financial solvency of our operators across Ontario. 

For more information about unpaid IDEL, please consult government guidance.

TIAO and ORHMA Call on MLTSD to Defer Layoff Recall Deadline to June 2022 for Meeting and Convention and Food and Beverage Sectors


In a joint letter, TIAO and the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA) have called on the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) to defer the layoff recall deadline until June 2022 for hard-hit tourism and hospitality sectors. 
Currently, unpaid infectious disease emergency leave (IDEL) has been extended to December 31, 2021. This measure temporarily freezes layoffs to protect employees, allowing them to be reinstated, be free from penalty, and earn credits for length of employment and seniority; and protects businesses from the obligation to issue costly termination or severance pay after the end of the layoff period.   

While we are appreciative of MLTSD's initial extension of unpaid IDEL to December 31, 2021, which has delayed the layoff recall deadline to April 1, 2022, this will no longer be enough for meeting and convention and food and beverage sectors. While recovery is underway, the pace of business in meetings and conventions and food and beverage is not yet sufficient to begin recalling laid off staff in these two sectors at the current timeline.  

To protect jobs and the financial solvency of our operators, TIAO and ORHMA have recommended an additional three-month extension to unpaid IDEL, which would extend the layoff recall deadline to the end of June 2022.   

TIAO will continue advocating with our partners to ensure that our operators across the province are able to recover and rebuild.  

Read the letter here.


TIAO was delighted to welcome Minister Monte McNaughton, Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, at the OTEC offices. Minister McNaughton participated in a stakeholder roundtable to hear directly from a panel of Ontarians in the Tourism and Hospitality sector who shared their personal stories of how the pandemic has affected their jobs and businesses, as well as insights into the issues that need to be addressed to prepare the future workforce.

We appreciate and thank Minister Monte McNaughton for taking the time to listen to the challenges and concerns that our industry has faced throughout the pandemic, and continue to do so. We also thank our valued partners at Ontario Tourism Education Corporation (OTEC) for helping make this possible.

TIAO Submits Evidence on Commercial Insurance and Debt to the Ministry of Finance

Over the past few months, TIAO has met with representatives from the Ministry of Finance to discuss two key issues impacting the recovery and rebuild of tourism businesses across Ontario: high commercial insurance premiums and mounting business debt incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. With 7 in 10 tourism businesses having taken on debt during the pandemic (debt which will take at least 2 years to resolve), financial solvency and the capacity to ramp up to meet rising visitor demand is impacted. Commercial insurance premium hikes of 20% or more further add to the financial challenges faced by tourism operators, slowing down the pace of recovery.  

TIAO has continuously advocated for government intervention on commercial insurance premium hikes and debt relief for key federal supports such as the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) and Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF). To support discussions and future government action on these issues, TIAO has submitted to the Ministry of Finance 2021 member survey data on commercial insurance and debt impacts faced by tourism businesses across Ontario. TIAO will continue to push for action on these files to support the recovery of our industry. 

TIAO Presents to FONOM on the State of the Northern Tourism Sector

On November 10, 2021, TIAO presented on the state of the Northern tourism sector in a morning learning session hosted by the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM). In a roundtable discussion with NOTO, Destination Northern Ontario, Indigenous Tourism Ontario, Boating Ontario, and SÉO, TIAO’s morning learning session provided an overview of the impact of COVID-19 on Northern tourism operators in Ontario; the challenges Northern tourism businesses face on the way to economic recovery; the opportunities for rebuild and resilience coming out of the pandemic; and how working directly with municipalities can help the recovery and rebuild of the tourism industry.  

Watch the roundtable discussion here

TIAO to Discuss MAT Issues with Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

A number of rural municipalities in Ontario have reached out to TIAO regarding issues with the Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT), specifically around challenges in collecting the MAT from short-term rental accommodation platforms. TIAO has taken these issues to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. In response, the Ministry has expressed an interest in meeting with TIAO and delegates from rural municipalities to address these issues. Planning for this roundtable meeting with the Ministry is currently underway with a date to be confirmed. 

Levied on transient accommodations, the MAT was developed to grow the economic impact of the tourism industry in Ontario by providing access to tax revenue funds to enhance existing investments into tourism marketing and product development. As our industry recovers and rebuilds beyond the pandemic, MAT revenues will become an increasingly important source of funds to develop and support tourism businesses in Ontario. 

TIAO Supports and Advocates for the Inclusion of Motor Coach Operators in the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program


TIAO is pleased to hear the Prime Minister and Finance Minister announce a new support program for tourism businesses that have been hardest hit by the pandemic over the last 20 months. While this announcement is great news for the survival of tourism sector, we are extremely concerned that motor coach operators will not be included in the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program.  

Alongside our colleagues at Motor Coach Canada, TIAO has written to our new Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance, the Honourable Randy Boissonnault, to ensure that Motor Coach operators across Canada are included as eligible businesses in the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program.  

The motor coach industry is fully integrated with all forms of tourism and allows visitors to travel Canada in sustainable ways. As such, Canada’s tourism sector recovery relies on a surviving Motor Coach industry. Motor coach operators have faced sharp decrease in cashflow and increased debt loads and are depending on being included in the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program to help with their survival. 

TIAO looks forward to hearing back from the Minister on next steps and other actions that may help to ensure that Motor Coach operators are included in in the new Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program 

Our full letter to Minister Randy Boissonnault can be viewed below. 

TIAO Calls for Parity in Reopening to Full Capacity Across Tourism Sectors

In a letter to Premier Ford, TIAO called on the provincial government to ensure that all tourism and hospitality sectors are given a fair and equal chance to reopen at full capacity. Given the previous announcement lifting capacity limits and restrictions for select sectors, TIAO emphasized the importance of parity in reopening and recovery across the tourism industry: in order to give all tourism and hospitality businesses a fair shot at recovery, there must be a level playing field.  

Given that many tourism businesses have enacted their own voluntary workplace vaccination policies and proof of vaccination policies for patrons, and tourism businesses have gone to extraordinary lengths to follow the highest level of health and safety protocols, TIAO recommended that all businesses be allowed to open at 100 percent capacity if they have enacted their own proof of vaccination requirements for patrons. 

Read the letter here. 

TIAO Supports TIAC’s Advocacy for Survival Support for the Hardest Hit Sectors

In support of advocacy by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) and the Coalition of the Hardest Hit, TIAO has written to Prime Minister Trudeau emphasizing the need for continued government supports for the hardest hit tourism and hospitality sectors. Alongside our TIAC and Coalition colleagues, we called for the newly elected government to follow through on their commitment to provide temporary wage and rent support of up to 75% of expenses to Canada’s tourism businesses through the winter.  

Read the letter here. 

TIAO welcomes the federal government’s announcement that it will honour its commitment through the rollout of a Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program and the Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program. The new Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program will provide support to hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, and tour operators at a subsidy rate of up to 75%. The new Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program will provide wage and rent subsidies of up to 50% to businesses that can show eligible losses.  TIAO will support TIAC in working to make these programs as successful and useful as possible to members. 

TIAO Ensures that Development of Ontario’s Digital ID Includes Tourism and Hospitality Perspectives

In late 2021, the Ontario government will be introducing digital ID, an electronic version of trusted government ID that will provide better safety, more security, and stronger privacy than physical ID cards or documents. Digital ID can be stored in a digital wallet app for smartphones or other devices, and will enable easier access to online and in-person services. Given the potential to use digital ID in tourism and hospitality settings—such as purchasing alcoholic beverages, at hotel check-in, and at gaming establishments—TIAO arranged a meeting with the Ontario Digital Service and Smart Serve to provide industry perspective on the province’s Digital Identity program. As a result of this discussion, Smart Serve and the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA) will have the opportunity to provide design and implementation feedback to help shape the development of Ontario’s digital ID.  

TIAO will continue to advocate on behalf of the tourism industry to ensure that government programs that impact tourism and hospitality businesses are designed with their perspectives in mind. 

TIAO Submits Feedback for the Underused Housing Tax Consultation

TIAO recently submitted feedback for a federal consultation on the development of an Underused Housing Tax (UHT), a measure intended to free up the Canadian housing market by imposing a 1% tax on the value of property owned by non-resident non-Canadians. While TIAO supports the intent of the proposed UHT, we are unsure how successful it will be in addressing the lack of affordable housing in Ontario. In our consultation submission, we offered several recommendations, including raising the proposed UHT rate as well as more directly increasing the supply of affordable housing through regulatory changes and by building new properties.  

Affordable housing is a key factor in attracting, recruiting, and retaining tourism workers across the province, but especially in tourism and resort communities where visitor numbers have contributed to high housing costs. TIAO will continue advocating for policy measures which support access to affordable housing across Ontario.  

Read our full consultation submission here

TIAO Supports Extension of Job-Protected Infectious Disease Emergency Leave to January 1, 2022

The Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development has confirmed that job-protected unpaid infectious disease emergency leave (IDEL) will now be extended until January 1, 2022, inclusive. As businesses have experienced unprecedented revenue losses and interruptions due to COVID-19, the IDEL is a measure designed to ease staffing and financial burdens on businesses by temporarily freezing layoffs. Under the IDEL, non-unionized employees whose work hours have been temporarily reduced or eliminated due to COVID-19 will not be considered to be laid off under the Employment Standards Act. This layoff freeze protects employees, allowing them to be reinstated, be free from penalty, and earn credits for length of employment and seniority. It also protects businesses from the obligation to issue termination pay after the end of the layoff period.   

Working with our partners, specifically Tony Elenis and the ORHMA team, TIAO has advocated for this extension to the IDEL. This extension will help tourism businesses across the province continue to retain their staff as their operations endure the uncertainty of the current reopening pause and the fourth wave of the pandemic. It will also offer an extended financial reprieve for tourism businesses juggling reduced hours, who are still struggling to recoup revenue losses amid continued capacity restrictions. TIAO welcomes this announcement and will continue to advocate for a regulatory environment which supports the recovery of tourism businesses across Ontario. 

Read more about the IDEL extension here


TIAO Expresses Concern Over Announcement that Ontario is Pausing Exit from the Roadmap to Reopen   

TIAO is concerned over the government’s plan to pause the province’s exit from the Roadmap to Reopen. We have serious concerns for what this pause will mean for the recovery of hundreds of thousands of tourism and hospitality businesses across Ontario. There are important questions that remain unaddressed in the government’s plan to indefinitely pause the exit from the Roadmap to Reopen. For instance: 

  • What are the new targets that the province and each local public health unit must meet for this pause to end
  • If and when new COVID-19 case levels fluctuate in the future due to new variants, can we expect the province to continually roll back reopening measures? 
  • Will additional economic supports be introduced to support hardest hit businesses? 

These and more, must be answered to provide tourism and hospitality businesses with some sense of certainty as to their eventual full reopening and their prospects for continued survival. We believe that given the financial impact of COVID-19 on our industry and our already slow and uneven recovery, the planned pause on full reopening is not only disappointing but potentially disastrous. 

We believe that our business leaders should be heard and consulted on how to navigate recovery given this recent announcement as these measures will impact their future in Ontario. 

You can read the full letter here. 


Since the launch of the Tourism Relief Fund (TRF), tourism businesses from across FedNor and FedDev areas of Ontario have reached out to us expressing their concern that they are unable to apply for TRF support because they are not incorporated - despite meeting other eligibility criteria. Unincorporated businesses such as sole proprietorships are legal business entities recognized by the Government of Canada and many of these businesses are key operators in their local tourism economy, providing tourism products and experiences which draw visitors to their destination. Restricting eligibility for the TRF to incorporated businesses risks compromising the economic recovery and future viability of local and regional tourism economies across Ontario.  

As supports like the TRF are crucial to have a chance at recovery, and given that incorporated businesses represent only a fraction of Ontario tourism businesses, TIAO and NOTO have put together a joint letter asking the federal government to consider expanding their business eligibility criteria. TIAO will continue advocating to ensure that government supports like the TRF help tourism businesses across Ontario recover, contributing to the sustainability of regional tourism economies. 

Read the joint letter here.


"Everyday that passes without a plan means more revenues lost, further job losses and damage to our brand internationally." - Chris Bloore, President & CEO at Tourism Industry Association of Ontario

Please click on the image below to watch Chris Bloore's remarks about the importance of the Federal Government releasing their plan to reopen our border with the United States from the Canadian Travel & Tourism Roundtable press conference in Toronto held on June 29th.

June 29th Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable Press Conference


TIAO joins industry leaders to launch campaign to re-open the US border with Canada

On June 8, TIAC launched their campaign to re-open the US border with Canada by calling on the Federal Government to release their plan on when restrictions will be lifted.  I was pleased to join Destination Toronto President and CEO, Scott Beck, General Manager of Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, Peter Doyle, and Executive Director of International Sales and Industry Relations for Hilton, Vito Curalli, in launching the campaign with TIAC President and CEO, Beth Potter. 

The press event held outside the CN Tower focused on the importance of American tourists to the Ontario tourism industry and the catastrophic impact COVID-19 has had on our industry. But now, with COVID cases decreasing and vaccination rates increasing, we need to start moving toward a phased and safe reopening plan based on science. 

Just last week, the federal government’s Expert Advisory Panel on COVID-19 testing and screening released a report stating that there needs to be changes made to the border policy to reflect the progress we’ve made in vaccinations and fighting the pandemic. 

We all know the importance of American visitors to our industry, whether it's in our border towns, cities or to Northern Ontario businesses. But you can’t simply turn the tourism industry on and off like a light switch. We need lead up time to hire and train staff, buy inventory and plan how we can operate efficiently during this recovery period.  Whilst the Federal Government has hinted at progress, they have not produced a detailed plan for reopening with key metrics to aid businesses. Yet at the same time, the Federal Government is planning to end key government support programs such as CEWS and CERS in the fall. You can’t withdraw support for our industry whilst giving it little or notice on when the border will reopen. 

We all know that the tourism industry was the first to be hit, has been the hardest hit and is likely to be the last to recover. We’ve lost over 100,000 jobs and billions in economic activity. We know that operators and employees face the prospect of yet more uncertainty on customer demand and whether they will have a job this summer. That’s why we need a plan now. 

You can add your voice to the call for the Federal Government to announce their plan by visiting and send a letter to your local Member of Parliament. Please share this information amongst your own networks so that we can ensure the Federal Government hears our message loud and clear. 



Health and Safety Protocols

As Ontario looks to reopen it's economy there are a growing number of guidelines and protocols emerging on how to do so safely. TIAO is collecting  web resources and documents issued by provincial governments, the federal government, international tourism agencies associations and others below to give you an insight on how to safely open and operate your businesses.


Government of Ontario: Additional COVID-19 Resources for Businesses

Click here for an extensive Q&A document which covers a number of topics.

Click here for a full list of supports for businesses on Ontario’s COVID-19 Help for Business site. This site is continually updated and will include:

  • The launch of a new app to make it easier and more convenient for businesses and organizations to read and verify proof of vaccination (i.e., that a digital vaccine receipt is valid);
  • Providing communication supports to businesses to inform the public of the new requirement.

Businesses and organization may also submit questions and feedback to the Ministry of Health by clicking here.


Government of Ontario: Resources to prevent COVID-19 in the workplace

Click here to find information to help develop a plan to protect workers, customers and the public from COVID-19covid 19. Find posters, tools and guidance for Ontario workplace in all sectors.

Click here for Workplace Safety & Prevention Services Guidance on Health and Safety for Tourism and Hospitality Sector,Housekeeping, Laundry, Reception and Room Service staff During COVID-19.


Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety: COVID-19 Health and Safety Resources

Click here for tip sheets and other guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Includes work-place specific tip sheets 


World Travel & Tourism Council: 'Safe Travels': Global Protocols for the New Normal

The global protocols take into account current WHO and CDC guidelines, and align the private sector behind common standards to ensure the safety of its workforce and travellers as the sector shifts to a new normal. 


TIAO Presents to FONOM

To Access the video recording of the state of Northern Tourism coming out of the Pandemic click the link below.

Tourism Industry Association of Ontario Presents to FONOM


NOTO's Health and Safety Protocols for Resource-Based Tourism

To access NOTO's Health and Safety Protocols for Resource-Based Tourism please click the link below.



Destination Northern Ontario - Business Reopening Toolkit: Since the beginning of COVID-19, Northern Ontario has been supporting you and your business when you need it most. We have compiled the below resources to support your business through the next phase of COVID-19. As this is a phased approached, business owners need to be flexible and prepared to close if cases of COVID-19 spike in the future. 

To access the Business Reopening Toolkit, please click on the link below:

Reopen the North


Workplace Safety & Prevention Services - Resources for Businesses: WSPS offers business information on their COVID-19 page including pandemic preparedness checklists, job aides and much more information. For access please click the link below:


You can also check out their Youtube page for videos to help you get back to work safely by clicking the link below:

WSPS Youtube Channel


Resources from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business: With the emergence of COVID-19, the primary concern at CFIB is keeping you, your employees and your business safe. This page will provide you with expert advice to guide you through this difficult time, as well as templates and policies that prevent viral transmission in the workplace. Topics such as business continuity, how to access financial support, EI and employee income, employee management, business security and health and safety information can be found on this page. CFIB will also continue putting pressure on governments to give your business greater relief—including direct income support. To access the page please click the link below:



go2HR Tourism and Hospitality Health and Safety Resources: On this page, you will find information and resources for various sectors of tourism, workplace posters, COVID-19 pandemic awareness training, and emergency planning and preparedness.  To access the resources please click the link below:



Tourism HR Canada: They have gathered some guidance and a series of resources to help all tourism stakeholders stay healthy, communicate clearly, and remain resilient as Canada takes action to slow the spread of the virus and plans for recovery.  Please click the link below for more information:

Tourism HR COVID19


BDC - COVID-19 Business Planning Tools: These planning tools and tips can help you map out your next steps, identify new opportunities, mitigate risk and create resilience in your company, so you can emerge strong in recovery. To access the planning tools please click the link below:

BDC Business Planning Tools

The BDC also developed a summary table of all the supports that have been made available through both the Federal and Provincial Governments and the eligibility criteria.  Please click the link below to view the summary table.

BDC COVID19 Support Summary


KFL&A Public Health: Frequently Asked Questions for Meeting and Event Spaces (Step 3)

The following is a compilation of answers to frequently asked questions. However, we strongly encourage the person(s) responsible for a business or place that is open to read O. Regulation 364/20 (FR) for themselves.

Frequently Asked Questions for Meeting and Event Spaces (Step 3)






US / Canada Border Updates

Canada Dropping Pre-Arrival PCR Testing Requirement for Fully Vaccinated Travellers


The Federal government has announced a series of adjustments to travel requirements and border measures. As of February 28, 2022, fully vaccinated travellers will no longer be required to take a molecular COVID-19 test (I.e., PCR test) within 72 hours prior to entering Canada.  

Travellers will still be required to take a pre-arrival test, but can opt for a rapid antigen test, which is typically cheaper and has faster results. The rapid test must be approved by their country of origin and must be administered by a laboratory, healthcare entity or telehealth service. Travellers who choose to take a rapid antigen test must do so, no more than 24 hours before their scheduled flight or entering Canada. 

Travellers can still choose to take a pre-arrival PCR test; the test must be taken up to 72 hours before entering Canada. 

Children less than 12 years of age, who are not fully vaccinated and are travelling with fully vaccinated adults, will no longer be required to isolate from schools, camps, day-cares, or other crowded areas upon arrival. 

Randomized PCR COVID-19 testing will still be in place, but individuals who are randomly selected will no longer be required to quarantine while waiting for their results.  

Unvaccinated individuals will still be required to, upon arrival, take a molecular COVID-19 test and quarantine for 14 days. 

Canada has also lifted the non-essential travel advisory that was put in place in December in response to the Omicron variant and, international flights carrying passengers will be permitted to land at all remaining Canadian airports that are designated by the Canada Border Services Agency to receive international passenger flights. 

Visit here for more information. 


Canada-US border is opening to fully vaccinated non-essential travellers 

Starting November 8, the US will allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals to enter the country for non-essential reasons, such as tourism. 

A part of the standard U.S. Customs and Border Protection process, travellers entering the US by vehicle, rail and ferry will be asked about their vaccination status and at officers' discretion, travellers will have their proof of vaccination verified in a secondary screening process. 

While currently, a negative COVID-19 test is required for air travel to enter the US, there will be no testing required to enter the US by land or sea, provided the travellers meet the vaccination requirement. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US will accept travellers who have been fully vaccinated with any of the vaccines approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization. As such, the AstraZeneca vaccine, widely used in Canada, will be accepted. 

The CDC is still formalizing procedures for admitting those who have received doses of two different vaccines.  


Canada Opens Border to Fully Vaccinated Americans

After months of campaigning for the Federal Government to announce it's plans on when and how it would re-open the border, TIAO is delighted to be able to share with you the news on when fully vaccinated visitors, first from the United States and then other international visitors, will be able to cross the border.

Canada will open the border to fully vaccinated Americans and permanent residents of the U.S. for non-essential travel on August 9. The Canadian government is also eliminating the three-night quarantine hotel policy for those arriving by air as of Aug. 9 at 12:01am EDT. 

As of Aug. 9, Americans who have been fully vaccinated can travel to Canada without having to quarantine. Travellers must: 

  • Be fully vaccinated by a vaccine accepted by the Government of Canada, at least 14 days prior to entering Canada; 
  • Meet the pre-entry test requirements; 
  • Provide a digital copy of vaccination documentation in English or French; 
  • Provide COVID-19 related information electronically through ArriveCAN prior to arrival in Canada; 
  • Provide a quarantine plan and be prepared to quarantine in case border agents determine they do not meet the necessary requirements  
  • Be asymptomatic upon arrival; and  
  • Participate in random COVID-19 testing.  

Unvaccinated children under 12 years of age and dependents of fully vaccinated travellers eligible for entry to Canada will be exempt from quarantine. However, they will remain subject to the Day 1 and Day 8 testing requirements, and must avoid group settings, such as camps or daycare's.  

Provinces and territories may have more stringent rules around people who have recently returned from travel.  

As of Aug. 9, international passenger flights will also be allowed in Halifax, Quebec City, Ottawa, Edmonton, and Winnipeg airports (this is in addition to Toronto, Calgary, Montreal, and Vancouver airports). There will be a ban on direct flights from India until at least August 21 due to concerns about the Delta variant of COVID-19.  

Unvaccinated travellers will still be required to follow the mandatory testing and quarantine restrictions, and Canada will continue to prohibit U.S. travellers who are not fully vaccinated and for all other foreign nationals, unless they already meet an exemption set out in the Orders made under the Quarantine Act. 

On September 7, Canada intends to open its borders for non-essential travel by travellers from any country who have been fully vaccinated with Government of Canada-accepted vaccines at least 14 days prior to entering Canada and who meet the specific entry requirements. The entry and arrival requirements for fully vaccinated travellers above will also apply.  

For more information, please visit Easing border measures for fully vaccinated travellers entering Canada - Permitting discretionary travel for citizens and permanent residents of the United States -  

Current Canadian border travel restrictions can be found here.


Canada’s Border Reopening: Frequently Asked Questions 

The following information is based on existing guidelines and available information, and may be subject to change as further border reopening details emerge.  


Pre-Entry COVID-19 Test Requirements to Enter Canada:  

All travellers 5 years of age or older, (regardless of citizenship) must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test  

  • If you’re driving to a land border, you must take a test in the US within 72 hours of your planned entry into Canada  
  • If you’re flying to Canada, you must take a test within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time of your flight to Canada  
  • If you have a connecting flight, the test must be conducted within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time of your last direct flight to Canada (you may need to schedule the test in your transit city) 
  • Find a testing facility here 



All travellers must provide one of the accepted types of tests, not an antigen test, including those who are fully vaccinated. You can find the accepted COVID-19 tests here.

All travellers must: 

  • Provide one of the accepted types of molecular tests (e.g. PCR). Rapid tests (e.g. antigen test) will not be accepted. 
  • Keep proof of your test results for the 14-day period that begins on the day you enter Canada  

For more information, including on what details must be included in required test documentation, see:  


What is the proof of vaccination documentation required to enter Canada?   

Fully vaccinated travellers must: 

  • Have received the full series of a vaccine, or a combination of vaccines, accepted by the Government of Canada at least 14 days prior to entering Canada  
  • Currently accepted vaccines are: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) 
  • Provide proof of vaccination information electronically through ArriveCAN (app or web portal) prior to departing for Canada  
  • Have a paper or digital copy of their vaccination documentation in English or French (or certified translation, along with the original) ready to show a government official on request. The documentation must show that both vaccine doses are accepted by the Government of Canada. 


Where can I get a post-arrival COVID-19 test in Ontario?  

Fully vaccinated travellers do not have to do an arrival test (as of August 9, this will apply to fully vaccinated US citizens and permanent residents residing in the US; tentatively as of Sept 7, this will apply to fully vaccinated travellers from all other countries). However, fully vaccinated travellers may be randomly selected to complete a Day 1 (arrival) COVID-19 molecular test. Unvaccinated children accompanying fully vaccinated travellers will still require a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival and on Day 8.  

When entering Canada, travellers not considered fully vaccinated will be instructed to either take an arrival test at the border, or will receive a home test kit.  

Airport arrival testing:  

Unvaccinated travellers arriving by air must take a test before leaving the airport. At that time, they may get a home test kit to use for the Day 8 test.  

Land border arrival testing:  

If your border crossing doesn’t offer an on-site testing, or you decide not to use the on-site testing station, you need to follow the instructions in your home test kit to complete the test at your destination  

For more info on post-arrival testing, see:  

For instructions on completing home test kits, see:  


What happens if I test positive on the post-arrival test? Do I turn back?   

As far as we know, the post-arrival tests are COVID-19 molecular tests and the test results are generally provided in 1 to 3 days. If you test positive, you will be required to self-isolate at your destination for 14 days. A government representative will call you to provide additional details and instructions. 

For more info, see: 


Will unvaccinated children aged 12-18 need to quarantine?  

Unvaccinated youth aged 12 through 17 must follow all testing and quarantine requirements, whether or not they are accompanied by travellers who qualify for the fully vaccinated traveller exemption.

ArriveCAN Warning: do not include unvaccinated dependent youth aged 12-17 in your ArriveCAN submission. Complete your submission without them so that you have a receipt for the rest of the group. You will be able to provide the information for the youth(s) before boarding your flight or upon entry to Canada.


Is a tourist camp considered a group setting (that unvaccinated children under 12 years old must avoid)? 

From what we understand, the camps referred to in the guidelines are children’s camps. In a regular tourist camp situation, it will be the responsibility of the parents to ensure their children do not interact with groups of people at their vacation destination.  


Are tourism businesses liable if patrons test positive for COVID-19 post-arrival or don't follow public health protocol while in Ontario? 

As far as we know, as long as tourism businesses are doing their due diligence to follow all applicable COVID-19 health and safety protocols and inform visitors of their responsibilities, tourism businesses will not normally be held liable for visitors not following public health protocol.  

Tourism businesses are required to follow public health and safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This includes:  

  • Following the restrictions currently outlined in the Reopening Ontario Act, including abiding by capacity limits and requiring patrons to wear a face covering/mask and/or physically distance where applicable  
  • Following any local public health and safety bylaws. Businesses should check with their local public health unit website in case there are additional restrictions and requirements. 
  • Actively screen workers before they enter the workplace at the start of their shift. A worker and employee screening tool is available. 
  • Have a safety plan for how they will reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in their workplace. The safety plan must be posted in a place where it will be seen easily  

Travellers are required to follow COVID-19 public health and safety measures: 

  • If travellers violate instructions provided when entering Canada, this is an offence under the Quarantine Act and they could be subject to a monetary fine and/or imprisonment  
  • If travellers break mandatory quarantine or isolation requirements when there is a risk of causing death or serious bodily harm to another person, they could be subject to a monetary fine of up to $1,000,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 3 years  
  • The RCMP, provincial police, and local police are responsible for enforcing the Quarantine Act and can issue fines to travellers of up to $5,000 for non-compliance 
  • Individuals who violate the Reopening Ontario Act can face tickets for set fine amounts determined by the Ontario Court of Justice 
  • Under Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act, individuals who are symptomatic and waiting for test results, or who have had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 are ordered to self-isolate. Failure to comply with the order is subject to a monetary fine.  

Liability protections exist if patrons test positive at the business location: 


Where can visitors get a COVID-19 test to return home?  

Requirements to present a negative COVID-19 test result prior to boarding a flight departing from Canada vary by country. Please check your specific country requirements.  

US visitors returning home will require a COVID-19 test to re-enter the US border by air. Rapid tests are accepted. If a trip is shorter than 3 days, a viral test taken in the US can be used to fulfill the US pre-entry test requirement as long as the test was taken no more than 3 days before the return flight to the US departs. If the return travel is delayed longer than 3 days after the test, the passenger will need to be retested before the return flight. There are currently no test requirements for re-entering the US border by land.  

COVID-19 testing options while in Ontario: 


For US Visitors: 

Are there testing requirements for US visitors returning to the US? 

A COVID-19 test is required for US visitors returning to the US by air, but the same pre-departure test taken in the US can be used if the trip is less than 3 days long (see below). However, as far as we know, there are no testing requirements for return by land.  


Can a COVID-19 test taken before departure from the US be used to return to the US if the out-of-country trip was less than 72 hours long?  

The COVID-19 test taken before departure from the United States can be used to return within the 3-day timeframe 

If a trip is shorter than 3 days, a viral test taken in the US can be used to fulfill the US pre-entry test requirement as long as the test was taken no more than 3 days before the return flight to the US departs.  

  • For example, if a passenger’s flight is at 1pm on a Friday, the passenger could board with a negative test that was taken any time on the prior Tuesday or after  
  • If the return travel is delayed longer than 3 days after the test, the passenger will need to be retested before the return flight 

Alternatively, travellers to the US may provide documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel  

This applies only to air travel to the US, not entry by land  

For more info, see: 





Ontario's Roadmap to Reopen


Ontario Has Lifted Capacity Limits and Proof of Vaccination Requirements

Effective March 1, 2022 

As public health and health system indicators have continued to improve, Ontario has lifted capacity limits in all remaining indoor public settings and has lifted proof of vaccination requirements for all settings at this time. Businesses and other settings may choose to continue to require proof of vaccination. Masking requirements will remain in place at this time. 

For more information, please visit here.


Ontario Moves to Next Step of Reopening on February 17th

Premier Doug Ford announced that as of February 17th at 12:01am, Ontario will move to its next step of reopening and ease certain public health measures.  

Effective February 17, 2022: 

  • Social gathering limits of 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors 
  • Organized public event limits of 50 people indoors, with no limit outdoors 

Removing capacity limits in the following indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required, including but not limited to:

  • Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments without dance facilities; 
  • Non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms; 
  • Cinemas; 
  • Meeting and event spaces, including conference centres or convention centres; 
  • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments; and 
  • Indoor areas of settings that choose to opt-in to proof of vaccination requirements. 
  • 50% of the usual seating capacity at sports arenas, concert venues, and theatres 
  • 25% indoor capacity limit in the remaining higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, including nightclubs, restaurants where there is dancing, as well as bathhouses and sex clubs 
  • Capacity limits for indoor weddings, funerals or religious services, rites, or ceremonies to the number of people who can maintain 2 metres of physical distance. 
  • Capacity limits are removed if the location opts-in to use proof of vaccination or if the service, rite, or ceremony is occurring outdoors. 
  • Capacity limits in other indoor public settings, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, retail and shopping malls, will be maintained at, or increased to, the number of people who can maintain 2 metres of physical distance. 

Effective March 1, 2022 

If public health and health system indicators continue to improve, Ontario will lift capacity limits in all remaining indoor public settings and lift proof of vaccination requirements for all settings at this time. Businesses and other settings may choose to continue to require proof of vaccination. Masking requirements will remain in place at this time. 

For more information, please visit here


Update on Provincial COVID-19 Public Health Measures


On January 31, 2022, Ontario will move into its first step of its most recent reopening plan. Along with the previously announced measures which you can find here, effective January 31, 2022: 

  • Food and drink services will be permitted at indoor sporting events, concert venues, theatres and cinemas, bingo halls and other gaming establishments, and horse racing tracks, car racing tracks, and other similar venues, as long as individuals remain seated. 
  • Businesses will no longer have to collect patron information for contact tracing. Businesses will still be required to actively screen patrons prior to entry into the establishment. 
  • Ontarians will no longer be legally required to work from home. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health recommends individuals who are able to work from home continue to do so 
  • Previous restrictions on hours of operations or on the sale/service of liquor have been lifted for restaurants, bars, meetings and event spaces, strip clubs, casinos, bingo halls, gaming establishments, and other applicable businesses 
  • Physical distancing is not required where proof of vaccination is required 

To view the full list of regulations, please visit here. 

Additionally, for out-of-province visitors who are entering businesses that require proof of vaccination, vaccine receipts/certificates from their home country or province/state, along with their passport, are permitted to be used as proof to enter. The Verify Ontario app can also scan QR codes from select jurisdictions outside of Canada.  

While use of the vaccine certificate is mandatory for Ontarians in settings where proof of vaccination is required, nine First Nations communities are exempt from this requirement. Members of these communities are still permitted to show their vaccine receipt and a form of ID.  

TIAO worked with the provincial government and ITO to address access issues that could be faced by international and First Nations groups when entering settings requiring proof of vaccination, and is pleased that a solution has been announced. 

Minister MacLeod announced that the Ontario Tourism Recovery Program (OTRP) recipients will be announced next week.  


Ontario Announces Lifting of Certain Public Health and Safety Measures

Today, the provincial government has announced the lifting of certain public health and safety measures. The Ontario government will follow a phased approach to gradually easing COVID-19 restrictions, with 21 days between each step, starting January 31, 2022.  

Effective January 31, 2022 at 12:01am  

  • Increasing social gathering limits to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors;  
  • Increasing or maintaining capacity limits at 50% in indoor public settings, including but not limited to:  
    • Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments without dance facilities;  
    • Retailers (including grocery stores and pharmacies); 
    • Shopping malls;  
    • Non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms;  
    • Cinemas;  
    • Meeting and event spaces;  
    • Recreational amenities and amusement parks, including water parks;  
    • Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos and similar attractions;  
    • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments; and 
    • Religious services, rites, or ceremonies. 
  • Allowing spectator areas of facilities such as sporting events, concert venues and theatres to operate at 50% seated capacity or 500 people, whichever is less.  
  • Enhanced proof of vaccination, and other requirements would continue to apply in existing settings. 

Effective February 21, 2022 (Family Day): 

  • Social gathering limits will increase to 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. 
  • Removing capacity limits in indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required, including but not limited to: 
    • Restaurants; 
    • Indoor sports and recreational facilities; 
    • Cinemas; and 
    • Other settings that choose to opt-in to proof of vaccination requirements. 
  • Permitting spectator capacity at sporting events, concert venues, and theatres at 50% capacity. 
  • Indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is not required capacity will be limited to the number of people that can maintain 2m of physical distance. 
  • Indoor religious services, rites or ceremonies limited to the number that can maintain 2m of physical distance, with no limit if proof of vaccination is required. 
  • Increasing indoor capacity limits to 25% in the remaining higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, including: 
    • Nightclubs; 
    • Wedding receptions in meeting or event spaces where there is dancing; and 
    • Bathhouses and sex clubs. 
  • Enhanced proof of vaccination, and other requirements would continue to apply in existing settings. 

Effective March 14, 2022: 

  • Lifting of 100% capacity limits in all indoor public settings. Proof of vaccination will be maintained in existing settings in addition to other regular measures. 
  • Lifting remaining capacity limits on religious services, rites, or ceremonies. 
  • Increase social gathering limits to 50 people indoors with no limits for outdoor gatherings. 

For more information, please visit here. 


Ontario Temporarily Moving to Modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen

Premier Ford announced that the provincial government, in response to a steep increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations figures, would be temporarily moving Ontario into a Modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen.  Beginning Wednesday January 5 at 12:01am for at least 21 days, subject to trends in public health and health system indicators. The government will implement the following measures:  

  • Reducing social gathering limits to five people indoors and 10 people outdoors. 
  • Limiting capacity at organized public events to five people indoors. 
  • Requiring businesses and organizations to ensure employees work remotely unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site. 
  • Limiting capacity at indoor weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites and ceremonies to 50 per cent capacity of the particular room. Outdoor services are limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres of physical distance. Social gatherings associated with these services must adhere to the social gathering limits. 
  • Retail settings, including shopping malls, permitted at 50 per cent capacity. For shopping malls physical distancing will be required in line-ups, loitering will not be permitted and food courts will be required to close. 
  • Personal care services permitted at 50 per cent capacity and other restrictions. Saunas, steam rooms, and oxygen bars closed. 
  • Closing indoor meeting and event spaces with limited exceptions but permitting outdoor spaces to remain open with restrictions. 
  • Public libraries limited to 50 per cent capacity. 
  • Closing indoor dining at restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments. Outdoor dining with restrictions, takeout, drive through and delivery is permitted. 
  • Restricting the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. and the consumption of alcohol on-premise in businesses or settings after 11 p.m. with delivery and takeout, grocery/convenience stores and other liquor stores exempted. 
  • Closing indoor concert venues, theatres, cinemas, rehearsals and recorded performances permitted with restrictions. 
  • Closing museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions, amusement parks and waterparks, tour and guide services and fairs, rural exhibitions, and festivals. Outdoor establishments permitted to open with restrictions and with spectator occupancy, where applicable, limited to 50 per cent capacity. 
  • Closing indoor horse racing tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues. Outdoor establishments permitted to open with restrictions and with spectator occupancy limited to 50 per cent capacity. Boat tours permitted at 50 per cent capacity. 
  • Closing indoor sport and recreational fitness facilities including gyms, except for athletes training for the Olympics and Paralympics and select professional and elite amateur sport leagues. Outdoor facilities are permitted to operate but with the number of spectators not to exceed 50 per cent occupancy and other requirements.

You can read the full government release here.   


Ontario Extends Pause on Lifting Capacity Limits in Remaining Settings Where Proof of Vaccination is Required

The province is extending its pause on the lifting of capacity limits in remaining higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required. These settings include: 

  • food or drink establishments with dance facilities (I.e., night clubs and wedding receptions in meeting/event spaces where there is dancing) 
  • strip clubs, sex clubs and bathhouses. 

The Ontario government is continuing to monitor trends in public health and health care indicators, while also monitoring the new Omicron variant.  

As of December 6, there were 165 COVID-19 related critical illness patients in Ontario’s intensive-care units, representing 7% of Ontario’s overall ICU capacity. Ontario is able to safely admit approximately 300 patients with COVID-related critical illness into ICUs without putting at risk urgent surgeries. This would allow the province’s hospital system to effectively manage the intake of ICU patients projected as the most likely scenario by expert modellers in the coming months.  

The COVID-19 vaccine remains highly effective against severe illness or hospitalization against the virus and urges Ontarians to get vaccinated and to remain cautious and vigilant.  

To read the full news release, please visit Ontario Extending Pause on Lifting Capacity Limits in Remaining Settings Where Proof of Vaccination is Required | Ontario Newsroom 


Omicron Variant and COVID-19 Pandemic Update: New Public Health and Travel Restrictions

The discovery of the new Omicron variant has obviously caused concern throughout the global community. As a result, many governments, including our own Federal Government, have taken precautionary measures such a reintroducing on-arrival testing for air travellers on inbound flights from outside the United States, banned several countries from flying here and have stepped up quarantine procedures.  

While we wait for the scientists to properly analyze the Omicron variant, including its potency and reaction to the vaccines, it’s vital that any further government response is founded in science. After twenty-one months of closures, restrictions and uncertainty that have decimated the tourism and travel industry, we must ensure that we work to protect both the health of our province and also the health of our economy.  

In Ontario some Public Health Units are responding to the uptake in case counts by re-implementing restrictions. The new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, is the 5th variant of concern and so far, four cases have been reported in Ontario with the variant. The federal government barred all foreign nations from 10 different countries from entering Canada in order to help stop the spread of the Omicron variant. The federal government is also reimposing COVID-19 testing for all air travellers from all countries except the United States.   

Please read below to learn about the new restrictions in place within Ontario and how Canada is responding to the new variant.  

Dec 1, 2021: ONTARIO – 780 cases and 6 new deaths 

New COVID-19 Variant: Omicron 

  • Four cases have been reported in Ontario (in the Ottawa area) and other cases are currently being investigated.  
  • Ontario COVID-19 Genomic Network is continuing to actively monitor for all potential variants circulating in the province, including the Omicron variant, and is conducting genomic sequencing on 100% of eligible COVID-19 positive samples. 
  • Ontario is expanding number of testing locations and making it more convenient to access publicly funded testing as we head into winter and more indoor gatherings 
  • Ontario has already expanded eligibility for provincially-funded COVID-19 PCR testing at all testing centres to individuals who have returned from, or travelled in, the following locations between November 1st and December 6th, 2021: South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. Asymptomatic family members and other household contacts of travellers are also eligible for testing. 
  • The Omicron COVID variant is still unknown if it will be more transmissible or more severe than the other variants 

Canadian Current Travel Restrictions 


  • Announced on Nov 30th, the federal government is re-imposing a COVID-19 testing requirement for all travellers entering Canada (with the exception of those travelling from the United States). Anyone landing in Canada will need to be tested at the airport they arrive at despite vaccination status and will need to isolate until they receive their test results.  

For short trips 72 hours or less by land and air, fully vaccinated travellers are exempt from providing a pre-entry molecular test  

As of November 30th, travellers 12 and older will be required to show proof of vaccination to board a flight or train to travel both within and to depart Canada. A negative COVID-19 test is no longer a substitute for most people (some exceptions including valid medial exemptions and travel to remote communities only accessible by plane) 

Canada – Federal Government Response to Omicron Variant 

  • The federal government barred all foreign nationals who have travelled through South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Nigeria, Malawi, and Egypt in the last 14 days from entering Canada. 
  • Issued a travel advisor warning against all travel to the region for the foreseeable future 

New Ontario PHU Restrictions 

Due to the high COVID-19 case counts, several public health units have reintroduced restrictions: 

Public Health Sudbury and Districts reinstated a work-from-home order and implemented more protective measures for schools and childcare settings including rapid antigen testing. Previously, on November 10, the PHU implemented the following restrictions: 

  • Reinstatement of capacity limits and physical distancing requirements at premises that require proof of vaccinatio
  • Businesses and organizations to ensure masking at organized public events held indoors and outdoors where participants are within 2 metres of individuals not part of their households; and 
  • Anyone 12 years of age and older who actively participates in organized sports will be required to provide proof of vaccination unless a medical exemption applies. 

A Section 22 class order has been issued in Kingston, Frontenac, and Lennox and Addington, implementing a restriction to indoor social gatherings in a private dwelling to 10 people. 

Update: As of December 13, residents of the KFL&A region are prohibited from hosting or attending indoor or outdoor social gatherings or organized public events with more than five people.

The Southwestern Public Health Unit is adding new restrictions in Aylmer, Bayham, Blandford-Blenheim, Malahide, Norwich, South-West Oxford, Tillsonburg and West Elgin. The restrictions will begin December 2 and will be in place for 6 weeks, the measures in place are: 

  • 50% capacity in meeting and event spaces and patrons must be distanced or separated by a barrier 
  • 50% capacity in restaurants and bars and tables must be distanced or separated by a barrier 
  • 50% capacity in personal care services, such as hair salons 
  • 50% capacity in sports and recreation fitness facilities, indoor recreational facilities, and entertainment venues such as concert halls, theatres and cinemas 
  • Gathering limits for weddings, funerals and religious services where proof of vaccination is required to enter to 50% capacity 

Algoma Public Health Unit added new mandatory measures which came into effect on Monday, restricting the number of attendees at social gatherings and organized public events to a maximum of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, and strengthen masking and physical distancing measures for businesses and suspends close contact extracurricular activities in schools for 28 days. 

Booster – Third Dose Vaccine 

  • Ontario is offering third doses of the vaccine to long-term care residents and staff; as of Nov 26, more than 88% of eligible residents have already received their third dose 
  • Potential acceleration and more eligibility of third dose across Ontario


Ontario Introduces Plan to Lift Capacity Limits and Public Health Measures, Incorporating TIAO Recommendations


Beginning October 25th, 2021, Ontario will be removing capacity limits where proof of vaccination is required. This will include settings like restaurants, bars, sports facilities, casinos, and indoor meeting and event spaces, which will be able to operate at 100% capacity as of October 25. The physical distancing requirement between patrons and the 2m distancing requirement between tables at restaurants and event spaces will also be removed as of Monday.  

Other settings/businesses will be permitted to reopen at 100% indoor capacity if they decide to “Opt-in” to the proof of vaccination certificate program. This ‘opt-in’ option is in direct response to TIAO’s latest advocacy and recommendations regarding reopening parity (read our letter here). Businesses that do not “opt-in", face gradual reopening between January and March 2022 when the vaccine passport is gradually rescinded. Businesses and organizations can choose to: 

  1. Require patrons to show proof of vaccination in order to lift all indoor capacity and physical distancing requirements in their settings OR 

  1. Not require patrons to show proof of vaccination and continue to operate with their current indoor Step 3 capacity and physical distancing limits 

Businesses or organization can choose to “opt-in” to the vaccine certificate program on a frequency of their choice including daily (except for religious services, rites, or ceremonies which will be event specific). Businesses who “opt-in” to the vaccine certificate program will also be able to remove the physical distancing requirement.  

Active screening is still in place for settings with full capacity, as well as contact tracing. There will be a signage requirement for “opt-in” settings as they will be required to notify patrons that they are participating in the proof of vaccination certificate program (this needs to be made clear at the business’s point of entry).  

TIAO thanks the Government of Ontario and especially Premier Ford and Minister Lisa MacLeod for actively considering our feedback on reopening parity across tourism sectors and swiftly responding. TIAO welcomes today’s announcement as a major step forward for tourism’s recovery in Ontario. 

Please note, Step 3 outdoor capacity limits remain the same and retail businesses will not be able to “opt-in” to proof of vaccination certificate program – they will remain at Step 3.  

Below is the outline for the lifting of measures from Fall 2021 to Spring 2022 with the intention for all regulated measures to be lifted no later than March 28, 2022.  

As of October 25th, 2021 

Removing capacity limits where proof of vaccination is required, this includes: 

  • Restaurants and bars; 
  • Sports and recreational fitness facilities; waterparks, and physical fitness training; 
  • Casinos, bingo halls, and other gaming establishments; and 
  • Meeting and indoor event spaces 

Other settings will be permitted to remove capacity limits if they require (I.e., opt-in to) proof of vaccination, including but not limited to: 

  • Locations where a wedding, funeral, or religious service or rite or ceremony takes place 
  • Personal care services (e.g., barber shops, salons, body art) 
  • Indoor areas of museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions (indoor only) 
  • Indoor areas or amusement parks 
  • Indoor areas of fairs, rural exhibitions, festivals 
  • Indoor tour and guide services 
  • Boat tours 
  • Indoor areas or marinas and boating clubs 
  • Indoor clubhouses at outdoor recreational amenities 
  • Open house events provided by real estate agencies 
  • Indoor areas of photography studios and services 

Full regulations regarding ‘opt-in’ settings and requirements are available here. 

As of November 11th, 2021 

Removing capacity limits in high-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, this includes: 

  • Food or drink establishments with dance facilities (e.g., night clubs, wedding receptions in meeting and event spaces where there is dancing); 
  • Strip clubs; and 
  • Bathhouses and sex clubs 

As of November 15th, 2021 to January 12th, 2022 

  • The provincial government will review the impact of the winter holidays, returning to school in January, etc.  

Winter 2021-2022 

In the absence of concerning trends, Ontario will initiate gradual lifting of CMOH (Chief Medical Officer of Health) directives, capacity limits in settings where proof of vaccination is not required, and also lift vaccine certificate requirements as follows: 

As of January 17th, 2022 

  • Restaurants and bars 
  • Sports and recreational fitness facilities (e.g., gyms) and waterparks 
  • Casinos, bingo halls, etc. 

As of February 7th, 2022 

  • Night clubs 
  • Strip clubs 
  • Bathhouses and sex clubs 

As of March 28th, 2022 

  • Meeting and event spaces 
  • Sporting events 
  • Concerts, theatres and cinemas 
  • Racing venues 
  • Commercial and film productions with studio audiences  

March 28th, 2022 and onwards  

  • All remaining public health and workplace safety measures in businesses and organizations lifted, including masking 
  • Revoke public health Emergency Orders under the Reopening Ontario Act 
  • Release guidance for specific settings if appropriate 

Ontario will continue monitor key public health and health system indicators to identify changes that pose risk to Ontarians.  

To learn more about Ontario’s plan to reopen, please visit Ontario Releases Plan to Safely Reopen Ontario and Manage COVID-19 for the Long-Term | Ontario Newsroom 


Ontario Enters Step Three of Reopening on Friday, July 16, 2021




































Ontario Step 3 Rules and Regulations: Reopening on 12:01am on Friday, July 16, 2021 

The Ministry of Health is proposing amendments to O Reg. 364/20 to set out the public health and workplace safety measures for step 3 of the Roadmap to Reopen. This includes but is not limited to (all with additional restrictions): 

Social gatherings and organized public events 

  • Maximum 25 people indoors 
  • Maximum 100 people outdoors 

Restaurants, bars, food trucks, and other food or drink establishments 

  • Indoor and outdoor capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres of physical distance  

Food and drink establishments with dance floors (including night clubs and resto bars) 

  • Limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres of physical distance with a maximum capacity of 50% indoors and 50% outdoors 
  • No limits to the number of patrons per table 
  • Buffets permitted  
  • Karaoke permitted with restrictions 
  • Dancing is permitted with restrictions 

Retail Stores 

  • Essential and non-essential retail limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres of physical distance 

Wedding, funeral or religious service, rite, or ceremony 

  • For the ceremony itself:  
  • Capacity is limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres physical distance  
  • For social gatherings associated with the ceremony (e.g., receptions): 
  • Maximum 25 people indoors  
  • Maximum 100 people outdoors  

Indoor and outdoor meeting and event spaces  

  • Capacity is limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres physical distance  
  • Maximum 50% capacity up to 1,000 people indoors 
  • Maximum 75% capacity up to 5,000 people outdoors 

Facilities used for indoor or outdoor sports and recreational fitness activities 

  • Maximum 50% capacity for indoor facilities  
  • Personal trainers and sports trainers permitted with physical distancing and other restrictions  
  • Spectators limited to 50% of the indoor seating capacity for up to 1,000 people; masks are required   
  • Spectators limited to 50% of outdoor seating capacity for up to 10,000 people, and other restrictions; masks are required except for members of the same household seated together  
  • Sports permitted without restrictions on contact 

Day and overnight camps 

Hotels, motels, and short-term rentals 

  • Permitted to open 
  • On-premise indoor fitness or indoor recreational facilities permitted to open with maximum 50% capacity limit 


  • Permitted to open 
  • On-premise indoor fitness or indoor recreational facilities permitted to open with maximum 50% capacity limit 

Museums, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, gardens, and similar attractions  

  • Permitted to operate with: 
  • Indoor capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres’ physical distance, with a maximum capacity of 50%  
  • Maximum 75% capacity outdoors  

Concert venues, cinemas, and theatres 

  • Maximum 50% capacity indoors, up to 1000 people 
  • An outdoor seated concert, event, or performance or movie within a concert venue, theatre or cinema is permitted to operate at a maximum capacity of: 
  • Maximum 75% capacity outdoors, or up to 15,000 people (seated) 
  • Maximum 75% capacity outdoors, or 5000 people (non-seated) 
  • Masks must be worn unless you are with people from your household or you are seated at least 2 meters away from every person outside your household 
  • Reservations are required for attendance 

Amusement parks and waterparks 

  • Outdoor areas are limited to the number of people that can maintain physical distance of 2 metres, with a maximum capacity of 75%  
  • Indoor areas are limited to the number of people that can maintain physical distance of 2 metres, with a maximum of 50%  

Horse racing venues 

  • Maximum 50% capacity indoors, up to 1000 people (seated) 
  • Maximum 75% capacity outdoors, up to 15,000 people (seated) 
  • Maximum 75% capacity outdoors, up to 5,000 people (non-seated) 
  • Reservations required for seated events 

Casinos, bingo halls, and gaming establishments 

  • Capacity is limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres physical distance  
  • Maximum 50% capacity indoors 

Boat Tours 

  • Limited to the amount of people that can maintain 2 metres of physical distance with a maximum capacity of 50%  

Fairs, rural exhibitions, festivals 

  • Maximum 75% capacity outdoors 
  • Indoor capacity is limited to the amount of people that can maintain 2 meters of physical distance, not exceeding 50% capacity 

Strip clubs  

  • Indoor capacity limited to the number of people who can maintain a physical distance of 2 metres (seated)  
  • Performers must maintain at least 2 metres’ physical distance from patrons 

Bathhouses and sex clubs 

  • Capacity limited to the number of people who can maintain a physical distance of 2 metres  
  • Maximum 25% capacity, up to 250 people 
  • Masks required 

For more details on the rules and regulations for step 3 of the Roadmap to Reopen, please visit the official news release at  Ontario Moving to Step Three of Roadmap to Reopen on July 16 | Ontario Newsroom 

You can also view the regulation for full details.

Next steps 

The province will remain in Step Three of the Roadmap for at least 21 days and until 80 per cent of the eligible population aged 12 and over has received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 75 per cent have received their second, with no public health unit having less than 70 per cent of their population fully vaccinated. 

Upon meeting these thresholds, the vast majority of public health and workplace safety measures, including capacity limits for indoor and outdoor settings and limits for social gatherings, will be lifted. Only a small number of measures will remain in place, including the requirement for passive screening, such as posting a sign, and businesses requiring a safety plan. 





Ontario Enters Step Two of Reopening on Wednesday June 30, 2021

The Government of Ontario announced that the province will move to Step 2 in its Roadmap to Reopen framework on June 30, 2021 at 12:01am, two days earlier than expected. Step 2 will see the expanding of outdoor activities and limited indoor activities with a restricted number of people will resume.

TIAO will continue our discussions with the Government on providing further clarification and specific definitions for capacities for meeting and event spaces, indoor dining, museums and galleries and other tourism-based businesses in Step 3. We understand the frustration our industry is experiencing when planning for reopening, future programming, and events without predefined capacities and clear guidelines. We will continue to pursue this and provide updates to our members as we gather more information.

The following are new rules outlined in Step 2:

General Guidelines

  • Face masks are advised but not required for outdoor events
  • Physical distancing of 2 metres is still required
  • Masks are still required for indoor activities
  • Capacity limits must be posted

Outdoor Dining

  • Capacity expands to 6 people per table, with exceptions for large households (NEW)
  • Tables must be configured to be at least 2 metres apart or have a plexiglass barrier
  • Must record contact information of patrons
  • No dancing permitted
  • Outdoor venues with roofs must have two open sides

Outdoor Meeting and Events (NEW)

  • Permitted at 25% capacity
  • A maximum of 6 people may be seated together at one table
  • Tables must be configured to be at least 2 metres apart or have a plexiglass barrier
  • Must record contact information of patrons

Outdoor Amusement Parks (NEW)

  • Permitted at 25% capacity
  • Patrons must be 2 metres apart when lining up with limited exceptions (e.g. to keep families together, parents and children are not required to be physically distanced)
  • Physical distancing is required on rides except for members from the same households
  • All limits must be posed and reservations are required for seated activity
  • Face coverings must be worn

Outdoor Water Parks (NEW)

  • Permitted at 25% capacity
  • Patrons must be 2 metres apart when lining up with limited exceptions (e.g. to keep families together, parents and children are not required to be physically distanced)
  • Physical distancing is required on rides except for members from the same households
  • Reservations required for seated activity
  • Must record contact information

Outdoor Cinemas, Performing Arts, and Concert Venues (NEW)

  • Maximum of 25% capacity
  • Reservations required

Outdoor Fairs, Exhibitions, and Festivals (NEW)

  • Maximum of 25% capacity
  • Reservations required

Outdoor Professional and Elite Amateur Sport Events (NEW)

  • Maximum of 25% spectator capacity

Outdoor Tour Guides (NEW)

  • Maximum 25% capacity
  • Including trails, walking tours, bicycle tours, fishing charters, wineries, breweries, etc.
  • Must be able to maintain physical distancing of 2 metres

Outdoor Boat Tours (NEW)

  • Maximum of 25% capacity
  • Reservations required
  • Contact information of patrons must be collected
  • Must be able to maintain physical distancing of 2 metres
  • Patron access to indoors is permitted for washrooms, retail, or health and safety

Overnight Camps (NEW)

  • Permitted to open with capacity restrictions

Indoor Day Camps (NEW)

  • Permitted to open with capacity restrictions
  • Must be able to maintain physical distancing of 2 metres

Outdoor Horse Racing (NEW)

  • Maximum 25% capacity for spectators
  • Reservations required

Outdoor Weddings (NEW)

  • Capacity limited to permit physical distancing to 2 metres

Indoor Weddings (NEW)

  • Maximum 25% capacity


Ontario enters Step One of the Roadmap to Reopen on Friday June 11, 2021


Based on the provincewide vaccination rate and continuing improvements in key public health and health system indicators, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, moved the province into Step One of its Roadmap to Reopen at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, June 11, 2021.

Step One of the Roadmap to Reopen includes but is not limited to:

  • Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 10 people;
  • Outdoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services, capped at the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres;
  • Indoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services permitted at up to 15 per cent capacity of the particular room;
  • Non-essential retail permitted at 15 per cent capacity, with no restrictions on the goods that can be sold;
  • Essential and other select retail permitted at 25 per cent capacity, with no restrictions on the goods that can be sold;
  • Outdoor dining with up to four people per table, with exceptions for larger households;
  • Outdoor fitness classes, outdoor groups in personal training and outdoor individual/team sport training to be permitted with up to 10 people, among other restrictions;
  • Day camps for children permitted to operate in a manner consistent with the safety guidelines for COVID-19 produced by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health;
  • Overnight camping at campgrounds and campsites, including Ontario Parks, and short-term rentals;
  • Concert venues, theaters and cinemas may open outdoors for the purpose of rehearsing or performing a recorded or broadcasted concert, artistic event, theatrical performance or other performance with no more than 10 performers, among other restrictions;
  • Outdoor horse racing tracks and motor speedways permitted to operate without spectators; and
  • Outdoor attractions such as zoos, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens with capacity limits and other restrictions.
  • Outdoor tours with restrictions are now permitted.

Please view the regulation for full details.

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