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.
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- Stay home if sick. Use Ontario’s online COVID-19 assessment tool to help determine if you need further care.
- Avoid hugs, kisses, handshakes and other gestures with those outside your household or social circle. 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.
- Practise physical distancing as much as possible. Keep a 2 metre (6-foot) distance from anyone who is outside your household or social circle.
- Consider wearing 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 or social circle 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 social circle 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)?
- If in-person get-togethers are not possible, take advantage of technology. Call someone or use an online platform to hold a virtual party/celebration.
Hosting a Gathering/Party
- 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, consider physical distancing in determining the number of people to invite to your home. Limit the number of guests to a manageable number that allows people to safely maintain a 2 metre (6 foot) distance, especially if they are outside your social circle/household. While Ontario currently puts a limit on 50 people for indoor gatherings and 100 guests for outdoor events, these numbers may be too high for a comfortable gathering at your home.
- 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 or social circles 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 or social circles.
- 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.