Holidays, Family Gatherings and Celebrations

Get-togethers with family and friends are important to celebrate holidays and mark birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions. During COVID-19, take steps to protect your loved ones and prevent the spread of the virus.

NOTE: With the rise in COVID-19 cases in Ontario, make an informed choice about attending family gatherings and celebrations. Currently, virtual gatherings/events are the safest way to visit or recognize occasions with family and friends outside your household. The fewer people you come in contact with or have at a gathering, the lower your risk of COVID-19 transmission.

FURTHER NOTE: Ontario has put a pause on social circles (or bubbles) due to rising COVID-19 cases in the province. As a result, you should only be in close contact with people within your own immediate household. Maintain two metres (6 feet) physical distancing from everyone else. Individuals who live alone may consider having close contact with another household.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: The Ontario government is now limiting the size of private social gatherings to no more than 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors (the two gatherings cannot be combined to host 35 people). Please ensure you follow this new requirement. Failure to do so could lead to fines for the event host and people attending the function. The new size limits DO not apply to events or gatherings held in staffed businesses and facilities, such as bars, restaurants, cinemas, convention centres, banquet halls, gyms, places of worship, recreational sporting or performing art events. 

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General Tips
  • Stay home if sick. Use Ontario’s online COVID-19 assessment tool to help determine if you need further care.
  • Think twice about visiting areas of Ontario with high COVID-19 transmission rates. Instead, connect by phone, social media or video-conferencing. You can also consider using platforms to hold a virtual party/celebration.  
  • Avoid hugs, kisses, handshakes and other gestures with those outside your household. Instead, wave and greet others verbally. While it may be difficult, this can protect your loved ones, especially older adults and people with compromised immune systems who are more at risk from COVID-19 complications.
  • Limit the size of family/private social gatherings to no more than 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors (the two gatherings cannot be combined to host 35 people). Please ensure you follow this requirement, as failing to do so could lead to fines for the event host and guests attending the function.
  • Practise physical distancing as much as possible. Keep a 2 metre (6-foot) distance from anyone who is outside your household.
  • Wear a mask if inside where physical distancing is a challenge.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before and after attending a gathering.
  • Check ahead with the host to see what COVID-19 preventive measures are in place.
  • Before attending an event or gathering, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer recommends asking yourself these sets of questions to determine if you should go:
    • Are you at high risk of developing serious complications if you become infected with COVID-19 OR if you have to self-isolate, would this seriously disrupt your upcoming plans, priorities and responsibilities?
    • Are there people at high risk of developing serious complications of COVID-19 in your household that you could unintentionally infect?
    • Has the host made changes to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (such as spacing chairs, encouraging physical distancing and having guests who are visiting and not part of your household wear masks)?
    • Are you able to adjust your plans at the event (such as stepping away if it gets crowded, wearing a mask and washing your hands)?
Hosting a Gathering/Party
  • With COVID-19 cases rising in Ontario, give serious consideration to putting parties/gatherings on hold and celebrate only with those in your immediate household. Instead, consider virtual gatherings with your extended family and friends.
  • Be aware of the size limits on private parties/gatherings. No more than 10 people are allowed at indoor parties/gatherings, while 25 is the maximum amount of guests at outdoor functions. You could face a stiff fine for hosting a party that breaks the size gathering limits.
  • Remind guests to stay home if sick. Consider keeping a list of guests who attend for potential future COVID-19 contact tracing needs.
  • When entertaining, allow for physical distancing for your guests. Allow people to safely maintain a 2 metre (6 foot) distance, especially if they are outside your household.
  • Be upfront with your guests about the COVID-19 prevention measures you’re taking so they know what to expect before they arrive.
  • When possible, host your gathering outdoors. In colder weather months, go indoors but try to ensure the room or space is well-ventilated (e.g. open a window).
  • Arrange tables and chairs in advance to allow for physical distancing (if already set up, guests may be reluctant to move them).
  • People from the same household can be grouped/seated together, but should be 2 metres (6 feet) apart from other families.
  • When guests arrive, minimize gestures that promote close contact between those outside households.
  • Encourage guests to wear masks when physical distancing is difficult. Consider providing masks for guests or ask them to bring their own.
  • Ensure there is enough soap and hand sanitizer for people to use during the gathering.
  • Use single-use hand towels or paper towels for drying hands so guests do not share a towel.
  • Remind guests to wash their hands before serving or eating food.
  • Limit the number of people handling or serving food (including limiting access to where food is being prepared, such as the kitchen).
  • Avoid buffet-style meals. If serving any food, consider identifying one person to serve all food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils
  • Limit contact with high-touch surfaces or shared items. If possible, clean and disinfect these surfaces and shared items between uses.
  • If you choose to use any shared items that are reusable (e.g. seating covers, tablecloths, linen napkins), wash, clean, and sanitize them after the event.

Cleaning and Disinfecting During COVID-19

It is essential to clean and disinfect common surfaces to reduce the spread of illnesses like COVID-19. Here’s what to do:

What you should know
  • Commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are effective against COVID-19.
  • Frequently touched surfaces are most likely to be contaminated.
  • Check the expiry date of products you use and always follow manufacturer’s instructions.
Icon image of a tub of cleaning supplies
Clean frequently touched surfaces often
  • In addition to routine cleaning, surfaces that have frequent contact with hands should be cleaned and disinfected.
  • Examples include doorknobs, kitchens, light switches, toilet handles, counters, remotes, touch screen surfaces and keypads.
Icon image of a finger touching a surface

Select products

  • Break down grease and remove organic material from the surface.
  • Used separately before using disinfectants.
  • Can be purchased with cleaner and disinfectant combined in a single product
Icon of a sponge filled with bubbles
Icon of a spray bottle of disinfectant
Disinfectant Wipes
  • Have combined cleaners and disinfectants in one solution.
  • May become dry due to fast drying properties. Should be discarded if they become dry.
  • Not recommended for heavily soiled surfaces.
Prepare products for use
  • Where possible, use pre-mixed solution.
  • Read and follow manufacturer’s instructions to:
    • properly prepare solution
    • allow adequate contact time for disinfectant to kill germs (see product label)
    • wear gloves, if you have sensitive skin, when handling cleaning products including wipes or wash your hands after use
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This information is from the Public Health Ontario fact sheet “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings”

If you have questions about COVID-19, contact your health care provider, Telehealth 1-866-797-0000 or the HKPR District Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 x5020.

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