Close up image of empty church pews

This Version Posted: October 22, 2021

On This Page:

Latest Situation

NEW! – As of Oct. 25, places of worship and other locations where a wedding, funeral or religious service/rite/ceremony takes place can choose to implement proof of COVID-19 vaccination requirements for people attending these events. In exchange, current capacity limits and physical distancing rules can be lifted.

Under Ontario’s current COVID-19 restrictions, the following is allowed:

  • Indoor and outdoor weddings, funerals and religious services can take place.
  • Capacity at these services is limited to the number of people who can distance at least two metres. NOTE: This limit is removed if the venue hosting the service implements proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Masks/face coverings must be worn inside. Mask use is also recommended outdoors if you cannot stay 2 metres apart from someone outside your household
  • Drive-in services, rites or ceremonies can still be offered
  • Consider livestreaming services for those who are unable or do not feel comfortable attending in-person
  • Receptions are permitted, with up to 25 people indoors and a maximum of 100 people outdoors

Read on for additional ways to protect the health and safety of your members and congregants by taking measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 Vaccination
  • Encourage members to get both doses of their COVID-19 vaccines, so they are fully protected against the virus.
  • Consider helping members arrange a vaccination, especially if they find it challenging or difficult to navigate their way to get a dose. Click here for COVID-19 vaccination clinic information in the area.

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 or the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2005).
  • 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.

This last point may allow priests, ministers or other worship leaders to remove their mask during the mass (or service) when preaching to the congregation from a lectern or pulpit, so long as the area is separated by at least four metres from other people.

The priest, minister or worship leader must wear a mask when greeting people as they come in or leave the place of worship, and during communion.

A place of worship should consult with its local police service or municipal bylaw enforcement, as they may have a different interpretation and require a priest, minister or worship leader to wear a mask at all times.

Weddings and Funerals

The following measures apply to weddings and funerals:

  • Indoor and outdoor weddings, funerals and religious services are allowed.
  • Capacity at these services is limited to the number of people who can distance at least two metres. NOTE: Capacity limits are removed if the venue hosting the service implements proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Receptions are permitted, with up to 25 people indoors and a maximum of 100 people outdoors.
  • Mask use and physical distancing rules apply.
  • Drive-in services, rites or ceremonies are permitted, with certain conditions
  • Virtual services are allowed

Proof of Vaccine Requirements for Weddings and Funerals

  • Proof of COVID-19 vaccines are not required to attend a funeral service or wedding ceremony, but venues hosting these types of events may choose to require proof of vaccination for attendees.
  • Proof of vaccination or a valid exemption is now required to attend any wedding reception in Ontario (including those held in conference/conventions centres and places of worship)
  • For a reception or gathering associated with a funeral, the following applies:
    • Proof of vaccination is not required if the event is held in a place of worship, funeral home, crematorium, or similar establishment
    • Proof of vaccination or valid exemption is required if the event is held in meeting or event spaces (like conference or conventions centres)

General COVID-19 Preventive Tips for Places of Worship
  • Encourage everyone to get their COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Maintain physical distancing by staying two metres (six feet) apart at all times.
  • Anyone who is feeling sick must 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.
  • Do NOT shake hands or hug.  
  • 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
  • Continue to offer virtual or live-streamed services, especially for people who may still feel uncomfortable attending a service in-person.
  • 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. 

Additional Resources:

Download and print resources below: