May 20 COVID-19 Update


Today Justin Trudeau announced updates to the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program and stated applications will open May 25. Doug Ford and Ministers recommended wearing face coverings where social distancing is difficult such as when using public transit (see below for face covering guidelines). The Ontario government has also announced that schools will remain closed for the duration of this school year.
As the Province begins reopening the economy and many local businesses are opening their doors, we ask that people use common sense and follow public health guidelines. It is still best to stay at home when possible and always practice physical distancing.
You can still access the latest up-to-date information on our COVID-19 Update Page on our website.

Federal Government

Today Justin Trudeau gave an update on the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program. In partnership with the Provinces and Territories, this program will provide forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners, who in turn will give a rent reduction of at least 75 per cent for April and May (retroactive), and June, to their small business tenants. Application documents and updated criteria are now available on the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation‘s website, with the program opening for applications beginning on May 25. Speaking about the program, Minister of Finance Bill Morneau said: “The forgivable loans will significantly lower the rent for small business tenants and keep them prepared to bounce back when this crisis subsides.”
Yesterday the Prime Minister announced an expansion to the eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA). The program will now be available to a greater number of businesses that are sole proprietors receiving income directly from their businesses, businesses that rely on contractors, and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payroll. To qualify under the expanded eligibility criteria, applicants with payroll lower than $20,000 would need:
  • a business operating account at a participating financial institution
  • a Canada Revenue Agency business number, and to have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return.
  • eligible non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1.5 million. Eligible non-deferrable expenses could include costs such as rent, property taxes, utilities, and insurance.
For more details you can read the full news release online.

Provincial Government

Today Doug Ford and Provincial Ministers urged people to continue following public health advice as the Province begins to reopen. The Ministry of Health is now recommending that Ontarians wear face coverings where social distancing is difficult such as when using public transit. The following recommendations for face coverings were given:
  • Wear your face covering safely and snugly to cover your nose and mouth, without any gaps. Ensure your face covering is made of at least two layers of tightly woven material and can be cleaned multiple times without losing its shape;
  • Medical masks, such as surgical and N95 masks, should be reserved for use by health care workers, those providing direct care, first responders and individuals who are ill and must leave their home for essential reasons such as seeking medical care, picking up medication or groceries;
  • Face coverings should not be placed on or used by children under the age of two; anyone who has trouble breathing; and anyone who is unable to remove it without assistance.
You can read the full news release online.
Yesterday the Ontario government announced that it has extended all emergency orders until May 29, 2020. This includes the closure of bars and restaurants except for takeout and delivery and restrictions on social gatherings of more than 5 people. However, the Province is allowing the reopening of some outdoor recreational amenities including outdoor sports facilities, off-leash dog areas and outdoor picnic sites, provided physical distancing and public gathering orders are followed. Outdoor playgrounds and water facilities will remain closed. For more details you can read the official news release online.
Also yesterday, the government announced that it is protecting the health and safety of students by keeping schools closed for the remainder of this school year. The announcement was also made that overnight summer camps will not be permitted to open this summer, but summer day camps will be allowed to open if the Province meets its safety goals. When the Province is ready to enter Stage 2 of the reopening framework, the gradual reopening of daycare centres will commence. You can read more about all of these issues in the Province’s official news release.

Local News

Huntsville Doppler has an Open for Business page that is updated daily. You can find a listing of businesses that are currently open listed by category. You can read the entire list on their website.
Starting today at 3:00pm, parking will be unavailable on Main Street in Huntsville while work is done in advance of the Downtown Streetscape Project. Work should finish tomorrow morning. The District of Muskoka has posted a news release which includes a map online.
The Dwight Public Library is now open for curbside pickup. Library members can order materials in 3 ways: online at, by email at [email protected] or by phone at 705-635-3319.
The District of Muskoka has posted a news release regarding the King William Street construction. A rolling closure of the street will begin today and continue for 4 weeks. The closing will be done in 50 metre sections to allow for efficient installation of underground services. You can read more details and see a detailed map in the news release posted online.
United Way Simcoe Muskoka has launched the Local Business, Local Love campaign. Local businesses can sign up to sell gift cards and for each gift card sold through the campaign a small percentage will go directly to COVID-19 relief for Simcoe Muskoka residents. You can sign up or purchase gift cards through the United Way website.
The Huntsville BIA is holding a Share Your Love for Huntsville contest. Between now and May 25 you can email them a review (100 words or more) on your favourite Downtown Huntsville business to be entered in a draw for a $200 gift card to your favourite BIA business. Email your review to [email protected] to enter. Your review will be posted with your first name only on social media. Go to to find a listing of all the Huntsville BIA businesses.

Business & Tourism Report

The Town of Huntsville and the Township of Lake of Bays have issued a joint letter to the building industry in regards to the lifting of restrictions on workplace limits on construction sites. You can read the joint release online.
Workplace Safety and Prevention Services has posted a Post-Pandemic Business Playbook designed to help businesses prepare to reopen safely. Topics covered include employer responsibilities, personal protective equipment and worker wellness. You can download the playbook online.

Member Updates

Local human resource partner OpX Project + People Management has produced a resource document about the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy. They are offering complimentary consultations for local businesses. You can read their resource document for details.
Provide us with your business updates so we can feature them daily and get your information out to other members. Other important updates can be found on our COVID-19 Information page. Send us your information to this email address: [email protected] or call us directly at 705-789-4771.

Further Resources

Moving Forward

In this time we need to work together as much as possible to enable Huntsville and Lake of Bays to weather this situation and to position ourselves as the tourism leader once we are able to re-open our businesses and services to the public. If you have questions or need help finding the appropriate resources to assist you or your business, please reach out to us at the following address: [email protected]
From all of us at the Huntsville/Lake of Bays Chamber of Commerce team we urge you to stay safe and promise to do everything in our power to assist you in this difficult time.

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