TORONTO - Ontario will cover up to 50 per cent of the property taxes and energy costs of eligible businesses while they're affected by public health restrictions.

The government says the new Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program will start accepting applications in mid-January, but the rebates will be retroactive to Dec. 19, when the latest round of restrictions came into effect.

The province says businesses will be required to submit their property taxes and energy bills in order to get the rebates.

It's also providing a six-month ``interest- and penalty-free period'' to make payments for most provincially administered taxes, starting Jan. 1, 2022 and running through July 1.

And it's requesting that the federal government strengthen its support programs.

Ontario's latest round of restrictions, introduced in a bid to slow the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, include 50-per-cent capacity limits in restaurants, bars, gyms and many other indoor settings, along with reduced hours for serving alcohol.