Close up image of empty church pews

This Version Posted: January 14, 2021

IMPORTANT NOTE: As of Jan. 12, 2021, the Province has announced a second State of Emergency in Ontario due to rising cases of COVID-19. The Ontario government’s order means people must stay at home except for getting essentials and follow these restrictions and public health measures.

During the State of Emergency:

  • Weddings, funerals and religious services are still allowed. A maximum of 10 people are allowed inside (or outside) for these types of services.
  • People can leave home to attend a wedding, funeral or religious service that follows all public health measures.
  • Anyone attending an indoor and outdoor ceremonies MUST ensure physical distancing, wear masks or face coverings that cover their nose, mouth and chin, and follow proper health and safety rules.
  • Virtual services are permitted, and encouraged especially due to Stay-at-Home order.
  • Drive-in services, rites or ceremonies are permitted, subject to certain conditions.

On This Page:


Use of Non-Medical Masks Face Coverings During Religious Services

Everyone must wear a mask at all times when indoors attending a place of worship. The only exceptions are anyone who:

  • Is younger than two years of age;
  • Has a medical condition that inhibits their ability to wear a mask or face covering
  • Is unable to put on or remove a mask or face covering without help from another person.
  • Needs to temporarily remove their mask or face covering while in the indoor area, as it may be necessary for the purposes of health and safety.
  • Is being reasonably accommodated in accordance with the Human Rights Code.
  • Performs work for the business or organization, is in an area that is not accessible to members of the public, and is able to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres (6 feet) from every other person while in the indoor area.
Weddings and Funerals

During the province-wide COVID-19 State of Emergency, a maximum of 10 people are currently allowed inside (or outside) for weddings, funerals and other religious service For both indoor and outdoor ceremonies, those attending must follow proper health and safety rules.

General COVID-19 Preventive Tips for Places of Worship
  • Maintain physical distancing by staying two metres (six feet) apart at all times.
  • Strongly urge anyone who is feeling sick to stay home and not attend a service.
  • Encourage everyone to wash their hands. Ensure hand-cleaning stations and alcohol-based sanitizer dispensers are available at entrances to your place of worship. 
  • Ensure everyone wears a mask or face covering at all times, including when seated during the worship service.
  • Stop shaking hands or hugging.  
  • Remind people to cough/sneeze into their sleeves. 
  • Discourage group singing. Use audio or video recordings instead.
  • Review the sharing of items during special religious sacraments/rites, at least while COVID-19 continues to circulate. You may want to consult further with your parish/diocese/denomination/national body. 
  • Maintain a clean and safe space through regular cleaning and disinfecting. High-touch surfaces should be cleaned twice a day or following each service (whichever is more frequent).
  • Have a traffic flow plan in place, such as one-way enter/one-way exit.
  • Encourage members/parishioners who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 (including those over age 70 and people with compromised immune systems) to take part in virtual services or hold a dedicated service solely for this group.
  • Consider keeping a record of all attendees for contact tracing in case of a COVID-19 outbreak.
Stay Connected to Members/Congregants in Other Ways
  • Encourage members/congregants to stay at home and only go out for essentials (like groceries or prescriptions)
  • Continue to offer virtual or live-streamed services
  • Keep in touch by phone or via social media/email/text. Share credible information – like what’s on this website on how people can protect themselves from COVID-19. 
  • Adults aged 70 years and older or people with compromised immune systems may be at higher risk of COVID-19. Think about ways that you can reach out to these individuals by phone or electronical means. See if you can assist with essential errands (e.g. groceries, pharmacy pick-up), keeping in mind the importance of protecting your own health by practising physical distancing.
Additional Resources:

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