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This Version Posted: September 21, 2020

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

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Limits on Large Gatherings

Limits on large gatherings in Ontario have recently changed. As of Sept. 19, the Ontario government is 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 or social circle.

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 could apply to large gatherings/events held inside. Organizers are encouraged to see if their event could be impacted by it.

Social Circles

People are encouraged to create a social circle during COVID-19. A family or social circle allows up to 10 people to interact closely with each other, without the need for physical distancing. These circles would be the only exception when people should not stay 2 metres (6 feet) apart.

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.

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
  • 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
    • 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.