COVID-19: Town's Response to Frequently Asked Questions


Important Notice: Situations are changing rapidly. We will do our best to update this document as we become aware of any changes. Last updated at 1:30 PM Friday, April 24, 2020.


  1. What is COVID-19?
  2. Government Responses/State of Emergency
  3. Returning from Travel
  4. Service Changes
  5. Accessing Necessities
  6. Finance Inquiries
  7. Health & Wellness
  8. Tourism & Local Closures
  9. Volunteer/How To Help

1. What is COVID-19?

1.1 What is Coronavirus?

The Government of Canada has a dedicated website for informing and educating Canadians on COVID-19 as well as providing a number of useful resources. Click here for the most up-to-date information.

1.2 I think I may have been exposed to coronavirus; what should I do?

The Niagara Region is providing an online self-assessment tool as well as a Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Info-Line. Once you have been screened, you will be given further direction from Niagara Health Staff. Click here to access Regional screening options.

1.3 What is the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

The Government of Canada has a dedicated webpage on the prevention and risks of COVID-19. Click here for the most up-to-date information.

1.4 What does it mean to self-isolate?

Click here to review the Federal Government guidelines on self-isolation.

1.5 Can I still go for a walk with my family?

The answer to this question will depend on each individual's situation. Please see the Government of Canada's guidelines on social-distancing, self-monitoring, self-isolation or mandatory self-isolation. 

1.6 When should I wear a mask?

The Government of Canada has also given direction on when to wear a mask. Click here for directions. Click here for considerations on homemade masks.

Click here to view a guide from Public Health Ontario on when and how to wear a mask (recommendations for the general public).

1.7 What is the limit on the number of people that can gather together?

On March 28th, the Provincial Government put strict guidelines in place for the number of people that are permitted to gather together. Click here to access the news release.

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2. Government Responses/State of Emergency 

Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake

The Town is Niagara-on-the-Lake declared a State of Emergency on March 23, 2020. 

2.1 Why declare a state of emergency? 

With the support of Town Council and the Emergency Control Group, Lord Mayor Disero’s declaration helps send a message to our community that this is serious and that people's lives are on the line. It aligns us with the Province of Ontario's declaration earlier last week and we are seeing many communities across North America do the same to ensure people understand the gravity of COVID-19, to support self-isolation and social distancing, and to help focus our Town on essential services and activities.

If you are not working in essential services, please stay home, except for necessary visits for groceries or medical supplies or appointments. If you absolutely do need to go out, practice social distancing. The next few days are critical in our effort to slow the spread of COVID19, especially with people returning from March Break or Winter Travel.

In Niagara-on-the-Lake, we have already closed facilities and Town Hall and shifted to maintain core services only.

2.2 Does the Town gain any new powers through this decision?

The Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act S. 4(1) states, "The head of council of a municipality may declare that an emergency exists in the municipality or in any part thereof and may take such action and make such orders as he or she considers necessary and are not contrary to law to implement the emergency plan of the municipality and to protect property and the health, safety, and welfare of the inhabitants of the emergency area." 

2.3 What does this mean for me?

It is essential that residents comply with preventative measures laid out by the Provincial government, continue to practice social distancing, and do not overload hospitals and health facilities. If you feel you may have symptoms, please call the Novel Coronavirus Info-Line first at 1-888-505-6074. Nurses are available to take your call between 9:00 AM and 8:30 PM Monday to Friday and between 9:00 AM and 4:15 PM Saturday and Sunday.

2.4 How long is this going to last?

There is no way to know at this time. From what we have seen in other countries, it could be weeks or it could be longer. The most important thing we can do to help slow the spread of this virus and mitigate the impact it has on our community and our healthcare system is to stay home. It only stands to reason that the more we do right now, the better off we will be later.

2.5 What is the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake doing to help slow the spread of COVID-19?

The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake is taking action every day to reduce the potential for spread in our community. Click here to view The Town's COVID-19 webpage.

2.7 I see businesses open that I don’t think are essential and/or individuals not practicing proper physical distancing – what should I do? 

As of April 1, community members looking to report a business or individual(s) operating in contravention of Emergency Orders (Province of Ontario), are asked to contact Niagara-on-the-Lake By-law Enforcement by email (, phone (905-468-3266), or online complaint form. Click here to view the media release "Niagara-on-the-Lake Enforces Contraventions of Emergency Orders Relating to COVID-19".

2.8 What else is important to know right now?

The most important thing we want everyone to know right now is to be thoughtful, responsible, and kind. Follow the advice of healthcare experts and local leaders. Avoid the temptation to blame others and remember to treat people the way you would like to be treated. We are all in this together. Stay healthy, stay calm, and be kind to one another.

Our top priority remains the health and well-being of our residents. We are committed to keeping you informed in clear and timely manner and encourage you to stay updated through the Town’s website and social media channels. Notices are also regularly posted at all four post offices to accommodate those who do not operate online.

2.9 How is this different from the Climate Emergency declaration made last month?

The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake declared a Climate Emergency on February 24 as a direction of council. An Environmental Advisory Committee will be tasked with providing guidance to tackle environmental issues and making recommendations to help lower the Town’s carbon footprint. This was an action geared towards creating long-range solutions to a real and ongoing emergency. The COVID-19 emergency, on the other hand, is upon us now and requires immediate action and preventative measures.

Niagara Region

On April 3rd, the Niagara Region declared a state of emergency. Click here to read the message.

Click here to access up to date information from the Regional Government. 

Province of Ontario

On March 17th, Premier Ford declared a State of Emergency resulting in multiple closures including all bars and restaurants, except to the extent that such facilities provide takeout food and delivery. Click here to learn more. 

Click here to access up to date information from the Provincial Government. 

2.8 What is “Ontario Together”?

The Ontario Government launched Ontario Together, a new website that will help businesses and their employees work with the province to meet the challenges of COVID-19. Click here for more information.

2.9 What is an essential service or business?

The Provincial Government has outlined what is an essential service in Ontario. Click here to find the most up-to-date information. 

2.10 Can I still go fishing?

As of right now, fishing is open in Ontario with all rules and regulations in effect. Conservation officers continue to patrol and protect our natural resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to learn more.

Government of Canada

Click here to access up-to-date information from the Federal Government.

Click here to access up-to-date information on news releases from the Federal Government.

The Federal Government, in partnership with Thrive Health, has developed a COVID-19 App for mobile devices that provides features such as statistics, news updates, resources, and a self-check tool. Click here to visit the site and download the app.

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3. Returning From Travel

Global Affairs continues to encourage Canadians outside of the country to register in the Registry of Canadians Abroad to receive important updates and that they check the entry and exit requirements of the countries through which they may be transiting. Global Affairs will share more information as it becomes available.

3.1 I just returned home from winter vacation, is there anything I should know?

Welcome home! Click here to read a message from the Interim CAO, Lord Mayor and Council regarding residents returning from travel. You can also click here to watch Lord Mayor Disero's video message to the community.

The Government of Canada has also put strict guidelines in place. Click here to review those guidelines. 

3.2 I saw my neighbour at the grocery store and he just returned from a trip? Is that allowed?

The Federal Government has mandated that all individuals who are returning from travel outside of Canada self-isolate for a period of 14-days and self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19. That means that recent travelers have additional restrictions and should not be going to work, the grocery store, or other appointments. They must rely on delivery services or ask healthy friends and neighbours to drop off supplies for them. We can help them by offering our support so that they don’t feel the need to go out. Click here for the most recent travel advice from the Government of Canada.

3.3 I have family oversees wishing to come home. What is being done to get them home safely?

On March 21, 2020, the Prime Minister announced efforts to bring Canadians home from abroad. Click here to see the news release.

For more information, individuals can contact the 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted where possible) or send an e-mail to .

If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact Tony Baldinelli, Member of Parliament, Niagara Falls Riding: Office: 905-353- 9590 | Email:

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4. Service Changes (Municipal, Provincial & Federal)

Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake

4.1 Is the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake closed for business?

Keeping in line with measures being taken by the Province, the following closures have taken place:

  • On Friday, March 13th, the Town announced the closure of the Meridian Credit Union and Centennial Arenas, the Niagara-on-the-Lake and Queenston Libraries and the Niagara-on-the-Lake Community Centre. Click here to see the media release. 
  • On Monday, March 16th, the Town announced the closure of all Town Administration Buildings. Click here to see the media release.
  • On Tuesday, March 17th, the Town closed the Courthouse and all public washrooms. Click here to see the media release. 
  • On Friday, April 3rd, the Town extended facility closures and event cancellations. Click here to see the media release.

These decisions are necessary based on the demographic of our population and the risk of a human health emergency as a result of COVID-19. This closure will assist in protecting the health and well-being of our residents and staff. Despite this closure, Town staff will remain available to assist and serve citizens online and over the phone. Our phones will continue to be answered between the hours of 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM Monday to Friday (905-468-3266), and online service requests will remain available at

Click here to view a complete list of services still offered by the Town.

4.2 Are Town-owned playgrounds still open to the public?

No, click here to see the Media Release.

4.3 Is Niagara-on-the-Lake Transit still operating?

No, as of Thursday, April 9th, NOTL Transit is suspended until further notice. Click here to see the media release.

4.4 I still see Town vehicles driving around Town. Are they practicing physical distancing?

Yes, Town staff conducting essential services have been directed to practice physical distancing while they work. Click here to see the Town's response on Twitter.

Region of Niagara

4.5 What changes have the Niagara Health System implemented in response to COVID-19?

Click here to access up to date information from the Niagara Health System.

4.6 What changes have been the Niagara North Family Health Team implemented in response to COVID-19?

Click here to access up to date information from the Niagara Health System.

4.7 Has the Niagara Regional Police Services (NRPS) made any changes to its service?

Yes. In recognition of efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, effective March 18th members of the public are directed to apply online to request Record Checks, Fingerprint Destruction, Record Suspensions, Occurrence reports, and FOI until further notice. Urgent requests may be considered by the Records Supervisor at 905-688-4111 x 4276.

Effective March 19th, 5 District (Fort Erie), 6 District (Port Colborne) and 8 District (Grimsby) have closed to the public. 1 District (St. Catharines), 2 District (Niagara Falls) and 3 District (Welland) front desks remain open for emergencies only.

Collision reporting centers (which are contracted independently via Accident Support Services International Ltd) in St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and Welland remain open for collision reporting.

Visit for further information. Questions specifically relating to Record Checks can be addressed by email at

4.8 Will garbage collection continue?

Yes. Curbside collection is still being picked up however, large items and hazardous waste pickup has been discontinued for the time being and all garbage must be placed in garbage bags, not loose in garbage containers. Click here for service updates.

Province of Ontario

4.9 What changes has Service Ontario made?

Until further notice, you will not need to renew the following products, even if they expire: 

  • Health cards 
  • Driver’s license 
  • License plate stickers 
  • Ontario photo cards 
  • Commercial vehicle operator registration certifications  
  • And more See for more information.

Click here for more information on accessing services through Service Canada.

4.10 What changes have been made to Ontario Works? 

Social Assistance - Ontario Works offices are closed to the public until further notice. All services will be provided to individuals by telephone. Click here for more information

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5. Accessing Necessities (Groceries/Drink/Medication)

Niagara-on-the-Lake grocery stores and other food providers remain open to the public and residents are strongly encouraged to consider alternative methods of obtaining items like food and medication – drive-thru, delivery, and online ordering options are available. If you have a friend who can pick up supplies for you and leave them at your door, call them to help. Or call a member of Council for assistance.

5.1 Have any local grocery store’s closed?

No. Town staff has confirmed that Harvest Barn, Hendriks’ Valu-Mart and Phil’s Valu-Mart are open and will remain open for the foreseeable future. Please check their website to see if they have online or pre-order by phone.  

  • Harvest Barn - 1822 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake Monday – Sunday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM 
  • Hendriks’ Valu-Mart - 130 Queen Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake Monday – Sunday: 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM 
  • Phil’s Valu-Mart - 1551 Region Road 55, Virgil Monday to Saturday: 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM Sunday: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM. *Offers PC Express online shopping with pick up service. Orders are brought right out to vehicles. Visit or download the app. *Senior shopping for the first hour of business.
  • The Niagara-on-the-Lake Rotary Club is offering assistance to community members needing help during this time. For help, please contact John Boot at 905-401-7848

5.2 I need help getting my groceries and essentials. What should I do? 

The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake has a dedicated webpage for community assistance during COVID-19. Click here to see which businesses and community groups are offering assistance and other resources.

5.3 Can I still get my coffee?

Yes! While dine-in experiences are no longer permitted, coffee shops continue to offer drive-thru and take out options. Please visit their websites for the most up to date information regarding changes to service.

5.4 I’m tired of cooking and would love to support a local restaurant. Do you know which restaurants are offering take-out?

Yes, many local restaurants are offering take-out by pick up or delivery. As options and availability are changing regularly, please visit a restaurant's website for up-to-date information on hours and updated menu options. 

The Niagara Region has launched an Open In Niagara website to let residents know what essential businesses are open and how they are delivering their services. Click here to view the website (not compatible with Internet Explorer).

5.5 Can I still get my prescriptions?

Yes. Town staff has confirmed that Simpson’s Pharmacy, Stone Road Pharmacy, and Shoppers Drug Mart are open and will remain open for the foreseeable future.

Pharmasave Simpson’s Apothecary

233 King Street

  • Monday – Friday: 9:30 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Saturday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Sunday: 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM

*Seniors only (65+) until 11:00 AM

*Call 905-468-8400 to see if your needs can be met with a phone conversation and delivery 

Pharmasave Simpson’s Pharmacy

1882 Niagara Stone Road

  • Monday – Friday: 8:30 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Saturday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Sunday: CLOSED

*Seniors only (65+) until 11:00 AM

*Call 905-468-2121 to see if your needs can be met with a phone conversation and delivery.

Shoppers Drug Mart

111B Garrison Village Drive

  • Monday – Friday: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Saturday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Sunday: CLOSED

*Senior shopping for the first hour of business. *Call 905-468-0332 to see if your needs can be met with a phone conversation and delivery. *Shoppers Drug Mart is offering free access to virtual care services. Click here for details. 

Stone Road Pharmacy

1630 Niagara Stone Road 

  • Monday – Friday: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Saturday: 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM
  • Sunday: CLOSED

*Free delivery

*Call 905-468-3000 to see if your needs can be met with a phone conversation and delivery.

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6. Finance Inquiries

6.1 Can I still make a payment to the Town?

Yes. As always, online payments can be made through individual bank providers and received via the Town’s drop box located outside the Main Administration Building at 1593 Four Mile Creek Road, Virgil.

Pre-Authorized Payment (PAP) Plans are also available for property tax payments. For more information on signing up for PAP, please contact Donna Lake at 905-468-3266 ext. 230.

6.2 I’m concerned about the financial impact COVID-19 is going to have on me and my family. Is there anything the Town can do to alleviate the financial strain?

As of Tuesday, March 25, 2020, the following will be waived until June 30, 2020:

  • Penalty or interest charges related to current 2020-year taxes, water charges and accounts receivable;
  • Non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee charged by the Town for any returned items;
  • Penalty or interest charges related to parking tickets from March 15 to June 30;
  • Expired permit parking passes; and,
  • No penalty for opting out or taking a pause from the pre-authorized payment program.

Fees for the use of metered parking spaces are suspended until further notice.

Additionally, Town Council and Staff are working to identify immediate and long-term actions to support local businesses, workers, and residents. Initiatives include:

  • Coordinating recommendations and measures to support business and resident relief efforts  
  • Identifying and assessing required support, stimulus and recovery measures 
  • Collaborating with the Regional Economic Rapid Response Team (ERRT) across Niagara to provide assistance to those businesses impacted by COVID-19

6.3 How is NOTL Hydro responding to this health crisis? Can my rates be altered?

Click here for updates from NOTL Hydro.

6.4 I’m a small business owner in Niagara-on-the-Lake and I’m concerned about the financial impact COVID-19 is going to have on my business.

On April 24, 2020, the Province of Ontario announced urgent relief for small businesses and landlords. Click here to see details about the financial relief programs. 

See below for a response from Lord Mayor Disero:

This is an unprecedented time for the people of Niagara-on-the-Lake and for the Country as a whole. As one of our beloved business owners, we know you are especially feeling the impact of closures, travel restrictions and social distancing being carried out to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

We are looking to see what resources we may have at the Town. Although the financial impact of this crisis will be overwhelming and cannot be resolved by one level of government alone.

In the meantime, the Niagara Mayors, as well as the Chair of the Region, have put together an Emergency Rapid Response Team to protect the longevity of our business community. We are collecting the analytical data that will help us obtain the promised Federal and Provincial Funding for our business community.

Prime Minister Trudeau announced yesterday that up to $27 billion is being made available to support Canadian workers and businesses, plus $55 billion to meet liquidity needs through tax deferrals to help stabilize the economy.

We are also waiting for the Provincial Government to, later this week, announce a plan to boost businesses and workers who may be affected by this global pandemic.

Business owners can contact where emails will be triaged and connected quickly with a member of the Niagara Economic Rapid Response Team.

6.5 Is the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) continuing to assess the value of properties? 

The Ontario Government has indicated that property assessments for the 2021 property tax year will continue to be based on the fully phased-in January 1, 2016 current values. This means your property assessment for the 2021 property tax year will be the same as the 2020 tax year, unless there have been changes to your property.

Click here to view MPAC's 2020 assessment update.

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7. Health & Wellness

7.1 How can I properly manage my health and well-being during this difficult time?

Click here to view tips and local resources on managing your health and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.

7.2 How should I talk to my kids about COVID-19?

Pathstone Mental Health has provided several great resources on their website, including a tip sheet on how to talk about COVID-19, how to ease fears, and how to have accurate and calm conversations about staying healthy and safe. Click here to visit their website.

7.3 Do you have any suggestions for fun, at home activities I can do with my kids?

Yes, we have lots! Click here for a full list of activities.

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8. Tourism &  Local Closures

8.1 My business is now permitted to open according to Provincial Regulations, how can I open safely? 

The Region of Niagara has established a webpage with great tips and guidelines. Click here to learn more. 

The Province has also provided sector-specific guidelines for businesses reopening. Click here to learn more. 

8.2 My livelihood depends on tourism – what should I do to protect my health and the health of my staff and/or visitors?

Tourism HR Canada has developed a Coronavirus Resource Hub specifically geared towards helping the tourism workforce prepare and react to COVID-19. That resource is available at

8.3 Why do I still see tourists coming into Town?

Regarding private enterprises such as tour buses, wineries, hotels, restaurants, and other local businesses, the Town has no authority to regulate their hours or continuous operation. This type of restriction would need to come from a higher level of government. 

8.4 What is the Chamber of Commerce doing to protect against the spread of the virus?

The Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce offices are closed to the public until further notice. Chamber staff are collaborating closely with TIAO, policies, surveys, conferences, etc., and are working with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Anyone requiring business information from the Chamber is encouraged to send an email to in order to be included in their Newsletter distribution. Employees may still be reached via email ( or phone (905-468-1950).

8.5 Are local wineries and breweries still open?

Yes, however, as hours and services may continue to change, we recommend visiting the business's website and/or social media pages for the most up-to-date information. 

8.6 Is the Shaw Festival Theatre still open?

No. The Shaw Festival is closed until May 1, 2020. Click here to access up to date information from the Shaw Festival website.

8.7 Is Parks Canada open?

No. Parks Canada has suspended all visitor services across the border until further notice. Click here to learn more.

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9. Volunteer/How To Help

9.1 I want to help! How can I provide assistance during this time?

We encourage you to check in on your family members, friends, and neighbours who may be alone during this time. Now is a great time to email or pick up the phone and call a loved one or friend to make sure they are OK and that they have everything they need in the days and weeks to come.

Want to donate? Newark Neighbours is welcoming donations! Click here for more information.

9.2 How can I help limit the potential spread of COVID-19 in Niagara-on-the-Lake?

Show your support and commitment to stay home by printing off a #StayHomeNOTL poster on (or making your own) and hanging it in your front window.  Display it as a reminder to others and a sign that your household or business is doing its part to protect our community. Hopefully, others will see your sign and do the same! 

Share a picture of your poster on social media with the hashtag #StayHomeNOTL to show you've heard the Town's call to action!

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