COVID-19 has dramatically impacted how companies do business across the globe. In Burlington, businesses have had to adapt quickly to this ‘new normal’.  Burlington’s business support organizations, known as Team Burlington (Burlington Economic Development, Burlington Chamber of Commerce, Burlington Downtown Business Association, Aldershot Village BIA and Tourism Burlington), have taken a coordinated approach in engaging and supporting Burlington’s business community during COVID-19. See below for the programs we have launched to support our local businesses, as well as helpful resources to help businesses successfully navigate the pandemic.

Burlington Safe Restart Program  

Team Burlington (Burlington Economic DevelopmentBurlington Chamber of Commerce, Burlington Downtown Business Association, Aldershot Village BIA and Tourism Burlington), in partnership with the City of Burlington, is launching the Burlington Safe Restart Program with the intent to provide grants to assist Burlington’s small business community.  

The Burlington Safe Restart Business Support Program will help businesses open safely and follow key public health guidelines to stop the spread of COVID-19. This Program was a direct outcome of the Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN) stakeholder sessions.   

In the first round of Burlington Safe Restart Program funding, we provided $124,689 in grants to 59  small businesses in Burlington. Learn more here. We will be launching another round of Burlington Safe Restart funding on October 26th which will be open until November 9th. 

Background and Objectives 

At the July 22, 2020, Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN) meeting, key issues were identified to support economic recovery including supporting the safe restarting of the economy and rebuilding consumer and employee trust in engaging with businesses. As a result of this, a report was submitted to Council (BEDC–05-20) outlining the business conditions in Burlington and the impact of COVID-19 on small independent owners, particularly public facing businesses, such as retail and restaurants. On August 13th Burlington City Council approved the provision of $125,000 for an immediate and timely small business relief grant program for COVID19 related reopening costs. 

Team Burlington, in partnership with the City of Burlington and POST Promise, is launching the Burlington Safe Restart Program with the intent to provide grants to assist Burlington’s small business community. The Burlington Safe Restart Business Support Program will help businesses open safely and follow key public health guidelines to stop the spread of COVID-19.  

The objectives of the program are: 

  • To support the restoration of consumer confidence in engaging with the economy as measured by an increase in customers or sales for the businesses supported;
  • To support employee safety and increase employment in Burlington for businesses supported as measured by an increase in employees returning to work, new employees hired or employees’ increasing hours;
  • To support public health and safety and stop the spread of COVID-19 by the adoption of the POST Promiseas measured by businesses participating in the program;
  • To support the retention and growth of Burlington businesses by offsetting business investments to support safe reopening as measured by the number of businesses participating that report negative impacts due to COVID-19 and that this program, along with other business supports, have resulted in continuing business operations; and
  • To support Burlington’s recognition as a supportive and open for business community by displaying the Burlington Safe Restart materials as part of the grant conditions.

These objectives will be measured by a postsupport survey administered to businesses three months after the funding disbursements are approved. 

Conditions of Support  

  • Meet all the eligibility criteria that have been adapted to reflect a small business definition in the Burlington economy from the Canada United Small Business Relief Program.
  • Costs applied for must meet the eligible activities and costs criteria.
  • Businesses must confirm that they will adopt the POST Promisein their business operations in support of public health guidelines to stop the spread of COVID-19.
  • Businesses will display Burlington Safe Restart signage acknowledging that their business has been supported by Team Burlington, including the City of Burlington.
  • Businesses will participate in promotion of the Burlington Safe Restart program including participating in a site visit by members of Council and Team Burlington representatives to promote the business participation in the program. This may include onsite photography and promotion via social media and other channels. 
  • Participation in a brief survey to track their business success after receiving the Burlington Safe Restart Grant. 

Eligibility Requirements for Applicants 

  • Independently owned small business;
  • Located within the geographical boundaries of Burlington;
  • One application per business;
  • Only for-profit organizations are eligible to apply, that must be incorporated, or operating as a sole proprietor in Canada as of March 1, 2020;
  • Customer-facing business with a publicly open space;
  • Had less than 20 full-time employees for the period prior to March 2020;
  • Is in full compliance with all applicable government laws, rules, regulations, guidelines, and other legally binding measures (laws);
  • Meet at least one of the following criteria:
    • Closure or temporary closure of business operations from March 2020 due to emergency measures
    • Employee layoffs from March 2020 due to emergency measures
    • Significant revenue decline (over 30%) from March 2019 to March 2020 due to emergency measures
  • Must submit one of the following documents (dated prior to March 1st, 2020):
    • Proof of business registration
    • Sales tax (GST/HST) registration
    • Recent sales tax (GST/HST) filing

Eligible Activities and Costs

The maximum amount available per application is $2,500. The following categories of purchases are eligible for reimbursement under the program: 

  • Purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – masks, face shields, latex gloves ;
  • Renovation of space to adhere to re-opening guidelines (as described below);
  • Renovation of space includes any alterations, temporary or permanent, made to the applicant’s business specifically to reduce the risk of customers or staff contracting the novel coronavirus, referred to as COVID-19. These renovations can include:
  • The building or purchase of physical barriers
  • The creation of signage or floor markers
  • The building or purchase of sanitizing stations
  • The building or purchase of materials used to create a structure to facilitate curbside pickup or contactless payment, or to otherwise move aspects of the business outside
  • The alteration of a building’s windows and doors
  • The installation of touchless devices such as doors or waste containers
  • The expansion of space to allow for physical distancing (e.g. patios)
  • Third party labourcosts associated with any of the above provided there is no conflict of interest with said third party. 

Eligible expenses directly related to the above categories are permitted provided that purchases were made no earlier than March 15, 2020. This grant program provides funding for PPE and renovation expenses that have already been made. Receipts for all eligible expenses should be kept; however, you do not need to provide them as part of your application right now. The City of Burlington reserves the right to audit all eligible expenses. The program will have an initial 2-week application window. At the end of this period applications will be assessed to prioritize businesses experiencing the most hardships and negative financial impacts from COVID-19. Additional funding application windows will be opened until funds are exhausted. 


Digital Main Street 

Digital Main Street is an innovative program designed to help main street small businesses achieve digital transformation. The program is built around an online learning platform, structured training programs, grants and Digital Service Squads teams of street-level experts that help main street small businesses manage and grow their operations through technology adoption. The program was originally created by the Toronto 3 Association of BIAs (TABIA) and a group of strategic partners including Google, MasterCard, Microsoft, and Shopify. For more information, please visit digitalmainstreet.ca.  

The Digital Service Squad 

 The Digital Service Squad (DSS) is a program delivered by Digital Main Street. On behalf of Team Burlington (Burlington Eoncomic Development, Burlington Chamber of Commerce, Burlington Downtown Business Association, Aldershot Village BIA and Tourism Burlington), Burlington Economic Development applied to bring a Digital Service Squad to our community, and in August 2020 we were successful!  

Thanks to Digital Main Street, FedDev Ontario, Ontario Association of BIAs (OBIAA)Tabiaand the Government of Canada, The Burlington DSS is a free digital resource to help you grow your business by adopting and implementing digital tools and technologies.  

 How does theBurlington DSS support small businesses?  

The Burlington DSS are trained specialists that go to Burlington main street small businesses and help them adopt new technologies and embrace digital marketing. DSS can help you build a basic web presence or improve your existing online presence through tools such as Google My Business and social media. Our squad members can also help you optimize your website for search, setup a POS solution, and create customer databases. In addition, Digital Service Squads provide advice and recommendations to streamline your fundamental business operations (including back office processes) and can help you find local digital vendors for potential projects.  

 If you would like to learn more about this program, please sign-up here and we’ll be in touch! 

Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN) 

The Burlington Economic Recovery Network brings together key stakeholders and business leaders from across Burlington to develop a recovery strategy that will prepare our economy for recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. The impacts of the global pandemic are already being felt locally and there is a strong need to align economic stakeholders and business support groups to position Burlington for short and long-term economic recovery.  

Mandatory Mask By-law Guide for Businesses  

The City of Burlington has enacted By-Law 62-2020 requiring the use of face masks or face coverings, with some exceptions, in all indoor public spaces. This by-law is enforceable as of July 20, 2020 and will be in effect until January 31, 2021, unless extended or revoked by City Council. A detailed FAQ on the bylaw can be found at www.burlington.ca/masks. 

Alongside the City of Burlington, we’ve developed a comprehensive guide for businesses that includes an FAQ, posters, and a checklist to make sure you’re in compliance.   

Take the Post Promise 

The POST Promise signifies a commitment to implement and practice the five key steps to workplace safety, helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Learn more about the Post Promise here.  


  1. MAINTAIN PHYSICAL DISTANCING Keeping a distance of at least 2 m/6 ft.
  2. STAY HOME IF UNWELL Self-monitor for symptoms, such as cough, fever, difficulty breathing.
  3. PRACTISE RESPIRATORY ETIQUETTE Cough or sneeze into the bend of your arm, or wear a face mask when social distancing is not possible.
  5. WASH & SANITIZE HANDS Wash hands for at least 20 seconds.