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.

Media Release – 2019-nCoV

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Working together to prevent spread of seasonal illness and novel coronavirus

Healthcare partners in our community, including the health unit, hospitals, primary care providers, and Emergency Medicine Services, are working with each other and with the Ministry of Health to ensure residents are protected from the potential spread of the 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

“The Health Unit has always worked with our local hospitals regarding the implementation of infection prevention and control measures and case and contact management related to reportable diseases,” says Dr. Lynn Noseworthy, Medical Officer of Health for the HKPR District Health Unit. “With the introduction of the novel coronavirus, and Ontario’s identification of it as a new reportable disease, we have heightened our communication to ensure we continue to share the information and resources needed to protect the public’s health.”

At this time of year, there are many respiratory viruses and other illnesses circulating in our community, and the steps to protect yourself from those illnesses are also effective protection against 2019-nCoV.

What is the 2019-nCoV?

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses.  They can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to more severe illnesses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).  Human coronaviruses are common throughout the world.  In rare cases, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people.  This was the case with SARS and MERS and with the 2019-nCoV novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

How are local healthcare partners prepared?

Although the risk continues to be low, staff from the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, Northumberland Hills Hospital, Ross Memorial Hospital, Campbellford Memorial Hospital, Haliburton Highlands Health Services and primary care partners have implemented precautionary measures required to ensure the safety of patients, visitors, and health care workers, including thorough symptom and travel screenings. As a reportable disease, healthcare partners are now required to report a suspected case of the novel coronavirus to their local medical officer of health. If a suspected case of novel coronavirus was to be identified in this area, the Health Unit would work with the Ministry of Health, Public Health Ontario Laboratory, and local hospitals in the management of the case and potential contacts.

Where can you find the most reliable and up-to-date information?

It’s important to check credible sources of information about 2019-nCoV, including daily updates on:

The Health Unit is monitoring the situation and sharing information with its partners and the public through its website. Residents with questions can visit the Health Unit’s website at hkpr.on.ca or call 1-866-888-4577.

Flu Season

A number of respiratory illnesses, including some common coronaviruses, are circulating at this time of year and it is peak flu season. Most people with common coronavirus illness will recover on their own. Your health care provider may recommend steps you can take to relieve symptoms.

The best way to protect yourself and others from circulating respiratory illnesses:

  • Get your flu shot
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands
  • Cough or sneeze into your sleeve or arm if you don’t have a tissue
  • Stay home if you or a family member are ill. Avoid visiting people in the hospital or long-term care homes if you are ill.
What to do if feeling ill, with recent travel history to China

Be prepared to identify your travel history and/or potential contact history with novel coronavirus so that paramedics and/or the health care provider are appropriately prepared to assist you.

  • Call your local health unit or health care provider if you become sick with a cough and fever AND have returned from Hubei province in China in the past 14 days or have had close contact with an ill person who is either under investigation for novel coronavirus or is a confirmed case.
  • If you have severe respiratory symptoms, call 911 and explain both your travel history and symptoms to arrange swift and safe transport.
Quotes:

“The health and safety of our patients, residents, clients, staff, volunteers, and community as a whole is a key focus for us, and we continue to work collaboratively with the Health Unit as well as our local and regional health service provider partners to ensure health and safety remain a top priority,” says Carolyn Plummer, CEO of Haliburton Highlands Health Services.

Varouj Eskedjian, CEO of Campbellford Memorial Hospital, added “the heightened awareness and screening measures put in place for the novel coronavirus along with having hospital staff ensuring best infection control measures are practised every day, will help protect staff, patients and the public from influenza and coronavirus.”

For media inquiries, contact:

Chandra Tremblay, Manager, Corporate Services; Communication and IT Services, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1212 ctremblay@hkpr.on.ca

Amanda Carvalho, Communications and Public Affairs Officer Ross Memorial Hospital. 705-328-4548 acarvalho@rmh.org

Jennifer Gillard, Senior Director, Public Affairs and Strategic Partnerships, Northumberland Hills Hospital. 905-377-7757 jgillard@nhh.ca

Carolyn Plummer, President & CEO, Haliburton Highlands Health Services. 705-457-2527 cplummer@hhhs.ca

Varouj Eskedjian, President & CEO, Campbellford Memorial Hospital. 705-653-1140 veskedjian@cmh.ca

Media Release – MOH Activates Plan

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Medical Officer of Health Activates Emergency Response Plan

The local medical officer of health is echoing today’s announcement by the provincial government to declare an emergency related to COVID-19.

Due to this declaration, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit’s Medical Officer of Health has activated the agency’s emergency response plan. This activation prompts local municipalities to set up their own emergency operation centres (EOCs) in order to move supports and resources in place for their communities.

“This is an unprecedented but warranted action for a very challenging time,” says Dr. Lynn Noseworthy. “We need to do everything we can to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of our residents.”

Due to the provincial declaration, the Health Unit is enforcing the actions put forward last night by the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) for the province, including:

  • The closure of all facilities providing recreational programs;
  • The closure of public libraries;
  • The closure of private schools and licensed child care facilities;
  • The closure of all bars and restaurants, with the exception of restaurants that can shift to takeout/delivery mechanisms;
  • The closure of all churches and faith settings;
  • The closure of all theatres and concert venues

“The health and wellness of our community continues to be our top priority,” says Dr. Noseworthy, “and these steps are crucial to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Residents are encouraged to help protect their health by washing their hands thoroughly and frequently, covering their coughs and sneezes, staying home if they are ill, and practising physical distancing when out in public by staying at least two metres away from others. As well, anyone returning from travel outside of Canada is required to self-isolate for 14 days and monitor themselves for symptoms unless they are an essential service worker, including health care workers.

If you think you have 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, visit the Ministry of Health’s website to use the self-assessment tool to help determine if you need to seek further care.

The Health Unit is continuing to work with its health care partners and municipal partners in this response. Residents are encouraged to visit www.hkpr.on.ca for updated information.

Please see the March 16 media release from Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario, Dr. David Williams.

Media Release – COVID-19

Monday, March 2, 2020

Local Health Partners Continue to Work Together in Preparation for Potential COVID-19 Cases

Although the risk of becoming ill from COVID-19 continues to be low in Ontario, the local Health Unit and its community health partners are continuing to work together to ensure they are prepared should a case develop locally.

Since COVID-19 was first identified in Ontario, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit has been working with Northumberland Hills Hospital, Ross Memorial Hospital, Campbellford Memorial Hospital, Haliburton Highlands Health Services and its primary health care partners to ensure all organizations are kept up-to-date on information and changes coming from the Ministry of Health. This includes sharing resources like the evolving case definitions, testing protocols, as well as infection prevention and control guidance and support and updated fact sheets on COVID-19. As well, the Health Unit provides support to the health care partners to ensure active screening protocols are in place and that appropriate health care staff have been fit tested for the proper protective equipment.

“There have been a number of improvements made in the way we prepare for wide-spread illnesses since we experienced SARS,” says Dr. Noseworthy, Medical Officer of Health for the HKPR District Health Unit. “Across the province we have seen improvements in communication about the illness and cases, improved laboratory testing protocols and quicker test results shared with health professionals for the stringent contact follow-up and management involving potential cases. The bottom line is that we are prepared for if, and when, we may see a case locally.”

Dr. Noseworthy says that seasonal respiratory illnesses, including influenza, are still circulating in the community. As well, it is important to remember that most people who have become ill with COVID-19 have experienced just mild symptoms and have recovered fully. The risk of serious illness appears to rise with age and the presence of other complicating factors. People who have died from the virus in other countries have tended to be older and have had multiple health issues that weakened their immune systems and put them at greater risk.

To remain healthy, the Health Unit recommends the following:

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve or arm.
  • Stay home if you or a family member are ill.
  • Get your flu shot to protect you from the flu.
  • Avoid visiting people in hospitals or long-term care homes if you are sick.

If you are ill and must visit a hospital emergency department, clinic or other healthcare provider, call ahead or tell them right away when you arrive that you have a respiratory illness and wear a mask while waiting to be seen. This allows health care providers to take steps to reduce the potential spread of illness.

Be prepared to identify your travel history and/or potential contact history with COVID-19 so that paramedics and/or the health care provider are appropriately prepared to assist you.

  • Call your local health unit or health care provider if you become sick with a cough and/or fever AND have returned from an affected area in the past 14 days or have had close contact with an ill person who is either under investigation for COVID-19 or is a confirmed case.
  • If you have severe respiratory symptoms, call 911 and explain both your travel history and symptoms to arrange swift and safe transport.


For more information on COVID-19, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020, or visit www.hkpr.on.ca. After hours, people can call Telehealth Ontario for medical advice toll-free at 1-866-797-0000. People are also encouraged to continue to rely on credible sources of information about COVID-19, including daily updates at:

Guidance for Travellers

Residents are advised to monitor and follow Canadian Travel Advisories as well as alerts and advisories in the travel destination and act accordingly. Specific requirements are in place in Ontario for those with travel to some affected areas to support rapid identification and case management. For guidance on self-isolation, self-monitoring and reporting of symptoms after travel to an affected area, please consult the travel health advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada website.

Consult your health care provider as soon as possible if you have concerns about your symptoms or have a travel history to a region where COVID-19 is occurring or if you have had close contact with an ill person who is either under investigation for COVID-19 or is a confirmed case.

Additional Quotes:

“At HHHS we are continuing to work in close partnership with our local primary care providers and the Public Health Unit, and we are taking the necessary steps to ensure our staff and physicians can continue to safely meet the health needs of our patients, residents, clients, and the community.” – Carolyn Plummer, President and CEO, Haliburton, Highlands Health Services.

“The Haliburton Family Medical Centre and the Haliburton Highlands Family Health Team continue to work closely with community health care partners. Protocols for screening and testing are in place to protect our patients, physicians, and all staff. “ – Kim Robinson, Executive Director, HHFHT, and Office Manager, HFMC.

« Go back