Places of Worship during COVID-19

Faith groups and places of worship in Ontario are now allowed to reopen under these restrictions:

  • Physical distancing rules must be in place
  • Attendance is limited to no more than 30 per cent of the indoor building capacity and a maximum of 100 people for outdoor gatherings

Protect the health and safety of your members and congregants by taking measures to preventing the spread of COVID-19. Read on for further resources, including the Health Unit’s COVID-19 Guidance for Reopening Places of Worship. You can also click here for specific Guidelines on Health and Safety for Places of Worship During COVID-19 from Workplace Safety and Prevention Services.

Non-Medical Mask Use During Religious Services
  • The local Health Unit is now including churches/places of worship in the list of indoor public places where people are being instructed to wear non-medical masks. As of now, the Ontario government is also mandating the use of face coverings in all public indoor settings across the province, such as businesses, facilities and workplaces, with limited exemptions, including corrections and developmental services.
  • Unless a person is exempted, non-medical masks or face coverings should be worn at all times inside public places, including places of worship. For religious services/rites or ceremonies, indoor weddings and funeral services, attendees must wear masks at all times with a secured physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others.
  • Group singing is strongly discouraged. Instead, consider using audio or video recordings.
  • Where speaking or singing is required as a part of a faith-based service, masks may be removed for the purposes of speaking where sufficient distance (greater than 4 metres) is provided between the speaker(s) and participants. In the event of loud speaking or any singing simultaneously during a speaking engagement, masks may be removed with sufficient barrier(s) required, such as glass or Plexiglas that forms a complete barrier between the speaker(s)/singer(s) and others
  • Singers (eg. choir members) or performers do not need to wear a mask while they are rehearsing or performing. Singers and players of brass or wind instruments must be separated from any spectators by Plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier. Every performer and other person must maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person, except, if it is necessary for the performers to be closer to each other for the purposes of the performance or rehearsal. During periods of rest in between performances, face coverings should be used.
Weddings and Funerals

More people are now allowed to attend wedding or funeral services. For indoor ceremonies, the number of people allowed to attend a funeral or wedding can now be a maximum of 30 per cent capacity of the ceremony venue. Wedding and funeral ceremonies taking place outdoors will be limited to 100 attendees. For both indoor and outdoor ceremonies, those attending must follow proper health and safety rules.

COVID-19 Preventive Measures in Places of Worship
  • Maintain physical distancing by staying two metres (six feet) apart at all times.
  • Anyone who is feeling sick should 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 of live singing or wind instruments
  • 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).
  • Encourage staff and visitors to stay home when sick. 
  • 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 During COVID-19 in Other Ways
  • Continue to offer virtual or live-streamed services to those who are unable to attend 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:

Download and print resources below:

COVID-19 and Large Gatherings/Events

It’s extra important to prevent COVID-19 when in close contact with other people, especially at large gatherings.

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

On This Page

Limits on Large Gatherings

Limits on large gatherings in Ontario have recently changed. The Ontario government is now limiting the size of private social gatherings to no more:

  • 10 people indoors
  • 25 people outdoors (the two gatherings cannot be combined to host 35 people).
  • In both cases, individuals must maintain physical distancing by staying at least 2 metres (6 feet) apart from other attendees who are outside their household.

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. Existing rules, including public health and workplace safety measures for these businesses and facilities, continue to be in effect.

For specific COVID-19 guidelines/rules for certain public settings or situations, click here.

Non-Medical Mask Use Inside Public Spaces

The Health Unit has updated instructions for using non-medical masks/face coverings inside public places. The updated instructions on face coverings apply to large gatherings/events held inside. Organizers are encouraged to see if their event could be impacted by it.

Weddings/Funerals

People gathering indoors for religious services, rites or ceremonies, and wedding ceremonies or funeral services, can continue to fill up to 30 per cent of the capacity of the particular room or building, as introduced in Stage 2. For both indoor and outdoor ceremonies, those attending must follow proper health and safety advice, including strict rules around physical distancing. Please also note the Health Unit’s updated instructions for using non-medical masks/face coverings inside public places.

Places of Worship

If you are a church/place of worship, attendance at services is limited to no more than 30 per cent of the building capacity to ensure the safety of worshipers. Strict rules on physical distancing must also be followed. For more information, follow the Ontario Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Advice for Religious Services, Rites or Ceremonies. Please also note the Health Unit’s updated instructions for using non-medical masks/face coverings inside public places, including churches and places of worships.

General Tips for Event Planning During COVID-19

Be aware of the new limits on private social gatherings (maximum of 10 people for indoor events and up to 25 people for outdoor event). Anyone hosting or attending a private event that is over the size limits could face stiff fines and penalties.

NOTE: Social circles (or bubbles) are now on pause in Ontario, meaning you should only have close contact with others in your immediate household. You must maintain 2 metres (6 feet) physical distancing from anyone else.

If organizing or attending a large gathering/event like a concert, festival, worship service or cultural/sporting event, you need to make an informed decision. Many people in close contact in one location for a long time can lead to the spread of respiratory illnesses. Other factors also come into play, such as venue cleanliness, crowd size, health and age of attendees, and number of high-touch areas (like doors, elevators).

Organizers
  • Discourage anyone from attending if they are sick; instead, encourage them to stay home.
  • Each event is different, so assess the type, size, scope and need for it. Consider the number of people who may attend too.
  • Consider specific COVID-19 prevention guidelines that are in place for events, including limits on the number of attendees. For further direction, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020.
  • If you still plan to hold an event, assess the risk and take steps to reduce the spread of illness. Consider things like:
    • Reducing the number of participants or changing the venue to prevent crowding
    • Thinking about who will attend. If they are older or have weak immune systems/pre-existing health conditions, they may be at higher risk of getting sick from illnesses like COVID-19
    • Staggering arrivals and departures
    • Implementing one-way entrances and exits.
    • Providing packaged refreshments instead of a buffet
    • Increasing access to handwashing stations
    • Promoting personal protective practices (hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, staying home if ill)
    • Offering virtual or live-streamed activities
    • Ensuring physical distancing of 2 metres (6-feet) as much as possible, including arranging seating in advance to appropriately space household groups.
    • Changing the event program to reduce high risk activities such as those that require physical contact between participants.
  • These resources offer further guidance to assess risks and take steps to reduce spread of illness at events:
Attendees
  • Avoid events/gatherings if you are sick. Stay home, except to get medical care. Use Ontario’s online COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to see what further care is needed.
  • Use precautions if attending a large event. Wash hands frequently with soap and water (or alcohol-based hand sanitizer). Cover cough/sneeze. Keep a two-metre (6-foot) distance from others as much as possible. Wear a non-medical mask or face covering.
  • Remember, the more people you come in contact with… the greater the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Spaces

Cleaning and disinfecting public spaces is essential to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect people in the community.

The following information provides guidance on cleaning and disinfection of public spaces and workplaces in Ontario.

What you should know
  • Commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are effective against COVID-19. Click here for a specific list of hard-surface disinfectants that are known to be effective against COVID-19.
  • Frequently touched surfaces are most likely to be contaminated.
  • Use only disinfectants that have a Drug Identification Number (DIN). A DIN is an 8-digit number given by Health Canada that confirms it is approved for use in Canada.
  • Check the expiry date of products you use and always follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Follow these public health guidelines for cleaning/disinfecting public washrooms
Icon image of a tub of cleaning supplies
Clean frequently touched surfaces twice per day
  • In addition to routine cleaning, high-touch surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected twice per day and when visibly dirty.
  • High-touch surfaces can include: doorknobs, elevator buttons, light switches, toilet handles, counters, hand rails, touch screen surfaces and keypads.
  • In addition to routine cleaning, check with your organization for any specific protocols for cleaning for COVID-19.
Select products
Cleaners
  • 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
Disinfectants
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 when handling cleaning products including wipes
    • wear any other personal protective equipment recommended by the manufacturer.
Watch our video on YouTube

This information is based on the Public Health Ontario fact sheet: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings

Additional Resources:

Download and print resources below:

Printable COVID-19 Resources

Download and print resources below:

Image of Attention Staff AODA compliant poster – click to download
Image of Attention Staff AODA compliant poster – click to download

Attention Staff
Poster

Image of Are You Sick? AODA compliant poster – click to download
Image of Are You Sick? AODA compliant poster – click to download

Are You Sick?
Poster

Image of Attention Shoppers AODA compliant poster – click to download
Image of Attention Shoppers AODA compliant poster – click to download

Attention Shoppers
Poster

Image of Attention Visitors AODA compliant poster - click to download
Image of Attention Visitors AODA compliant poster – click to download

Attention Visitors
Poster

Image of AODA compliant 'Keep Your Distance on Elevators' poster - click as a link
Image of AODA compliant ‘Keep Your Distance on Elevators’ poster – click as a link

Keep Distance on Elevators
Poster

Prevention poster for customers or visitors to a workplace
Prevention Customers

Prevention for Customers
Poster

Prevent the spread poster which can be used in the community
Prevention Community

Prevention in the Community
Poster

Prevention poster for tenants
Prevention for Tenants

Prevention for Tenants
Poster

Image of AODA compliant 'Community Garden Provincial Orders' poster - click as a link
Image of AODA compliant ‘Community Garden Provincial Orders’ poster – click as a link

Community Garden Provincial Orders
Poster

Image of AODA compliant 'Stay Home During COVID-19' poster - click as a link
Image of AODA compliant ‘Stay Home During COVID-19’ poster – click as a link

Stay Home During COVID-19
Poster

Image of AODA compliant 'Doctors Orders' poster - click as a link
Image of AODA compliant ‘Doctors Orders’ poster – click as a link

Doctor’s Orders
Poster

« Go back