By Joshua Freeman

TORONTO — Premier Doug Ford says the provincial government will be making $300 million available to help businesses that will be hard hit by the latest restrictions being imposed to halt the spread of COVID-19.

The province announced Friday that a modified set of Stage 2 restrictions are being imposed on Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa Amid soaring COVID-19 infection numbers.

The restrictions will put a stop to indoor dining, close gyms, and impose stricter limits on indoor gatherings. The new restrictions will be in place for at least 28 days, at which point they will come under review.

Speaking with reporters Friday afternoon, Premier Doug Ford said that he knows the restrictions will come at a high cost for small businesses.

“I know what this will do to businesses who are already struggling,” Ford said, vowing to continue fighting for small businesses. “I’ve been fighting for you since day one and I’ll continue to fight for you. I’ll do everything in my power to support you and we’ll never forget the sacrifices, you’re making.”

Ford said he has directed Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips to make $300 million available to support affected businesses.

“This funding will assist small businesses with their fixed costs during the next 28 days,” Ford said.

The help will include waiving provincial and municipal property tax bills, as well as Hydro and natural gas bills.

“This money will be made available as soon as possible,” Ford said, promising to release more details in the coming days.

Phillips said he has spoken with the mayors of the affected regions about how the help might be trolled out.

“In terms of property tax, I spoke to Mayor Watts and Mayor Tory and Mayor Brown today about the mechanism to make sure that both the provincial and the municipal portion of the property tax can be rebated, and they are on-side for working with us on that,” Phillips said. My colleague Minister Rickford, the Minister of Energy, has also been working on plans on how energy costs, whether they be natural gas or hydro, can be either rebated or covered.”

Ford also said he spoke last night with Federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and the two agreed on the need to help businesses affected by the closures.

“They (the federal government) understand how serious the situation is and the package of supports that they announced earlier today will make a big difference,” he said, referring to a Federal commitment Friday to extend rent support, wage subsidies and loans for struggling businesses.

Ford called the decision to re-impose some Stage Two restrictions “the single toughest decision I’ve made since I’ve taken office, bar none” and urged people to do what they can to continue to support affected businesses.

“I take this seriously when we’re messing with people’s lives,” he said. “But we can all help out. We can all pitch in. We can have takeout, delivery.”

Ford said that while the shutdown measures will be difficult, they are necessary so that the virus doesn’t get out of hand.

“The whole world is going through this, and in the jurisdictions that have tried to skip over this, it’s come back and bitten them in the backside there,” Ford said. “But we will get through this we will come out stronger than ever before.”

Originally posted by CTV News on 10/09/2020.