Personal gatherings (e.g. large families having visitors or playing frisbee in the park) can include up to 20 people indoors and outdoors. These individuals should be as consistent as possible and physical distancing maintained as best possible.
Organized gatherings (e.g. worship services, organized sports and recreation, day camps, festivals and events, weddings, funerals, burials, and graduations, etc.) can include up to 50 people indoors or outdoors from different households, on personal property and/or at a business or organization, under these conditions:
- The organized gathering must be organized by a business or organization, regardless of location.
- An operational plan that outlines the measures to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 is in place and is followed.
- Physical distancing of 2 meters/6 feet is maintained between individuals from different households.
- There is limited sharing of equipment among individuals from different households, and precautions are taken where equipment must be shared.
- Additional cohorts of up to 50 people, with each cohort kept separate as per the multiple gatherings guidance, are permitted with prior approval by the Chief Public Health Office:
- Weddings and funerals are permitted with a maximum of 150 people, in cohorts of 50, organized by a business or organization.
- If you have a multi-use facility, please reach out to email@example.com to discuss.
- Special occasion events (back-yard weddings, baby showers, etc.) can be organized by an individual who is not a business or organization with up to 50 people. Physical distancing between households/groups of close contacts must be in place, and an operational plan must be submitted to the Chief Public Health Office for review. No additional cohorts are permitted for special occasion events organized by individuals.
- See below for more information on gatherings at weddings and funerals.
- See below for more information on the responsibilities of businesses and organizations.
- See below for more information on special occasion events.
General guidance for personal and organized gatherings:
- Physical distancing with individuals who are not part of one’s household must still be maintained even if wearing non-medical masks.
- Wearing non-medical masks is required in all indoor public spaces, including gatherings; some exemptions apply.
- Exercise good judgement when organizing or attending a gathering.
- For hosts and organizers, the ability to ensure individuals are physically distancing must be carefully considered, including whether the consumption of alcohol or cannabis will be involved.
- Use virtual, video, or teleconferencing technology to engage people from home wherever possible.
- Take extra precautions if you are at increased risk, especially those who are aged 65 years and older, have a compromised immune system, and/or have underlying medical conditions, or organizing a gathering where individuals at increased risk may be present.
- Cheering, whistling, singing, and other vigorous vocalization that is not essential to an activity should be minimized when in close proximity to others. If this type of activity is key to the gathering or anticipated to be unavoidable (e.g. cheering at sporting events), distance between individuals from different households should be increased to 3.5m/12ft. Where this is not possible, physical distancing of six feet should be maintained, and it is strongly recommended that non-medical masks be worn. Non-medical masks are required in indoor public spaces, with some exceptions– see Non-Medical Masks in the Community guidance
- Limit shared equipment among individuals from different households (e.g. soccer ball, outdoor playground equipment). Should anything be shared, take precautions such as practicing frequent hand hygiene, not participating when ill, and sanitizing shared items regularly.
- Re-use of items that cannot be easily cleaned and sanitized should be avoided.
- People from different households can carpool or share drives. If physical distancing can’t be maintained, non-medical masks should be worn and every effort should be made to ensure some distance between passengers, including limiting the number of persons in a vehicle.
- Dance floors are not permitted, with some limited exceptions for weddings (see below). Note: dance classes are permitted following the organized recreation and team sport guidance.
- An operational plan is not required for personal gatherings where the numbers fall within the personal gathering limit. If the gathering is organized by a business, service or organization, an operational plan is required.
This guidance does not apply to:
- Retailers – see Retail Operations Guidelines
- Restaurants – see Food Premises Guidance
- Fitness facilities, gyms, and libraries, except for group classes or gatherings on those premises – see Fitness Facilities Guidance
- Child care facilities, licensed and unlicensed
Personal Gatherings - additional considerations
A personal gathering is any gathering of people from different households that is not organized by a recognized business or organization. Personal gatherings can include up to 20 people.
These recommendations apply to any personal gathering at a private dwelling or public space.
- Do not have visitors if a member of your household is in self-isolation or has symptoms of COVID-19.
- Ensure anyone coming to your home is not in self-isolation and does not have symptoms of COVID-19.
- Do not join a gathering if you are sick or self-isolating.
- Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces in shared spaces like bathrooms, kitchens, and living rooms before and after a gathering.
- Ensure visitors have access to a hand sanitizer that contains 60%-80% alcohol or the ability to wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If sharing food, do not serve buffet style and do not share utensils.
- Avoid or modify activities that involve physical contact.
- Keep a log of interactions to self-monitor and to facilitate contact tracing should a case of COVID-19 be detected.
Shared common areas in apartment buildings and condominiums
- Follow gathering limits, as above, for each separate common area.
- A common area includes any space identified as a common gathering area for purposes of socialization and/or recreation, including, but not limited to, games rooms, TV rooms and outdoor picnic areas.
- Indoor common areas should only be opened if indoor gathering limits can be maintained and the space can be sanitized between each use. If this isn’t feasible, indoor common areas should remain closed.
- Gatherings may not be held in hallways, stairwells, foyers, laundry facilities, and other pass-through or utilitarian areas and rooms.
Large, shared outdoor recreational spaces including trails, parks and beaches
- Each group of individuals must follow outdoor gathering limits.
- Avoid “ganging up” with other individuals or groups if it would bring you over the outdoor gathering limit.
- When encountering other individuals or groups, maintain physical distancing.
Organized Gatherings - additional considerations
An organized gathering is any gathering of more than 20 people that is organized by a business or organization. Organized gatherings can include up to 50 people, or more than 50 people if organized in cohorts of 50 as per the Multiple Gatherings Guidance.
This information applies to any organized gathering held at a private dwelling, public space, or business or facility:
- Develop and follow an operational plan detailing methods to mitigate transmission of disease.
- Take every reasonable step to ensure physical distancing (including organizers and/or members of the public) of two metres (six feet) between each other.
- Take every reasonable step required to prevent organizers and/or participants who are required to self-isolate from entering workplaces or other gathering spaces.
- Develop and follow an exclusion policy that ensures symptomatic organizers and/or participants are immediately excluded from event activities.
- Ensure enhanced cleaning and disinfection of shared areas and surfaces.
- Ensure hand washing stations or hand sanitizing products are available and accessible.
- Where washroom access is provided:
- Ensure hand washing stations or hand sanitizing products are available for use, and re–stocked as needed,
- Frequent cleaning and disinfection must take place throughout the gathering, and
- Consider limiting the number of available stalls and urinals to discourage overcrowding in washrooms.
- The number of individuals permitted to gather include any participants, volunteers and spectators present at or near the gathering. Paid staff are excluded from the gathering limit, within reason.
- The maximum number of people/patrons per table/seating area is 20. Participants may only be seated with their party (where a party consists of members of a household and other individuals of their selection). Seating at tables/seating areas should be as physically distant as possible. The individuals at a given table/seating area also should not change over the span of the event.
- Options to be seated less than 6 ft apart should not be provided for people who are not part of one’s close circle of contacts.It isn’t appropriate for organizers to be seating people together without physical distancing, except as described above. For greater clarity, for workplace meetings and events, physical distancing among employees must still be maintained.
- For gatherings at indoor public spaces, non-medical masks are required, except when exempt. For organized gatherings in any other setting, if physical distancing cannot be maintained among individuals from different households, a non-medical mask is strongly recommended.
- Physical distancing (2 metres/6 feet) must be maintained between participants at different tables/seating areas.
- Designated places for attendees to sit or stand and designated pathways for people to move through a gathering are recommended; standing receptions where individuals circulate freely are not recommended due to challenges with maintaining physical distancing.
- Mingling among seating areas/tables is not recommended.
- For facilities (indoor or outdoor) with separate rooms or large spaces that can accommodate more than one gathering at a time, multiple gatherings up to 200 people may be held, provided:
- Groups of 50 are kept separate,
- The multiple gatherings guidance is followed (pre-approval of operational plans is required for multiple gatherings involving 50 or more people),
- Facilities who are able to demonstrate separate entrances/exits/bathrooms to accommodate more than 200 people in additional cohorts can be considered on an individual basis, and
- If you have a multi-use facility, please reach out to the firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss.
- If sharing food:
- Do not have self-serve buffets and do not share utensils,
- Licensed food premises must follow the food premise guidance for serving food and beverages,
- For private gatherings that are not licensed, for food and drinks:
- seated service is strongly recommended,
- ensure anyone preparing and/or dispensing food performs hand hygiene before and after,
- served buffets are permitted, provided:
- the server frequently practices hand hygiene, wears a non-medical mask, and is screened for symptoms of COVID-19,
- those in the line-up are six feet from the food, or there is a sneeze guard in place or food items are wrapped,
- the line-up is 6 ft away from any individuals seated or otherwise partaking in the gathering,
- congestion and mixing at the served buffet is minimized (e.g. one group/table at a time), and
- people being served wear a non-medical mask.
- self-serve food or drink stations are permitted, provided:
- food items are individually wrapped,
- hand washing facilities or alcohol-based sanitizers are within easy reach of the station,
- signs are posted at the self-serve station, to remind people to wash or sanitize their hands before touching self-serve food, drink or other items, and to maintain a two metre distance from other patrons,
- any high touch surfaces are frequently cleaned and disinfected,
- congestion at the station is minimized (e.g. one group/table at a time),
- people serving themselves wear a non-medical mask, and
- any utensils for personal use should be oriented with the handle out for pick-up without touching eating surfaces.
- Overnight gatherings (children’s camps, for example) are permitted, provided:
- Public health measures are in place,
- The gathering numbers and other public health measures are in place and followed, and
- Groups sharing a room are kept small and consistent.
- Operations must keep daily records of at minimum, one person per household and the number of individuals per household present. This can be done with a responsible person completing attendance on site or electronically with verification on site. Records including the names and phone number should be kept for one month to facilitate contact tracing in the event of an outbreak. Operations should have an internal process in place to quickly retrieve these records, should the records be needed, even on weekends. These records should be stored in a safe, secure location for one month after creation of the records and then disposed of using a secure destruction method to maintain the confidentiality of participants. For paper records, secure destruction means, at minimum, cross-cut shredding. Additional guidance on records for contact tracing:
- Ensure to capture people's full name (first and last),
- Print clearly or capture information in a way so it is readable,
- Include contextual information such as the name of the activity and the time of the activity,
- Make sure that everybody present is included on the list, including participants, volunteers, staff, and
- Include not only people's names and contact information but also what role they play (e.g. are they a participant/volunteer/staff)
- Print and post signage outlining policies and procedures such as:
- Print and post signage to notify individuals that they should not attend if they have symptoms of COVID-19.
Responsibilities of Businesses and Organizations
- A business or organization organizing a gathering is responsible for ensuring public health measures identified in an operational plan are followed by everyone present at a gathering, including having staff on site to provide oversight of the gathering.
- Before organizing an organized gathering, the business or organization is responsible for:
- Developing an operational plan and communicating operational plan details to staff, volunteers, and attendees/participants.
- During an organized gathering, the business or organization is responsible for:
- Informing and communicating public health measures and requirements to everyone present at a gathering,
- Monitoring adherence to measures while people are present at a gathering,
- Responding to issues of non-compliance, reminding and informing people present at a gathering of the public health measures as necessary, and reporting violations of Public Health Orders to enforcement if required.
- Many of the responsibilities for businesses or organizations related to Organized Gatherings are mandatory and are contained in a public health order, the COVID-19 Prevention and Self-Isolation Order. If there is a violation of this public health order during an organized gathering, individuals and corporations involved with the violation may be liable on summary conviction in accordance with the Public Health Act [see sections 66 and 66.1].
- Further questions regarding legal liability should be directed to a business’s legal counsel.
- Examples of businesses and organizations include, but are not limited to:
- A hotel organizing events like fundraisers, weddings, and conferences
- A church or mosque organizing a faith gathering, wedding, or funeral
- A theatre organizing a performance
- A sport organization coordinating sport activities
- An arena organizing sport activities
- A wedding planner organizing a wedding
- A community organization, such as a watershed group or Lions Club, organizing a community event
- A non-profit organization organizing an annual general meeting.
Weddings and Funerals
- Weddings and funerals can include up to a maximum of 150 people, in cohorts of 50, organized by a business or organization. An operational plan must be approved by the Chief Public Health Office for any wedding with more than a single cohort of 50 people.
- Members of wedding parties are not required to be physically distant from one another, provided they follow the personal gathering limit and associated guidance.
- Members of a wedding party may remove their non-medical masks during a wedding ceremony in some circumstances, as follows:
- Members of a wedding party may remove masks while walking down the aisle, provided the people walking down the aisle are not interacting with members of the audience, and
- Members of the wedding party may remove masks at the front of the facility during the service, provided they are physically distance from the audience.
- Dance floors at weddings are not permitted in general, with some limited exceptions such as a couple’s first dance and traditional parent-child dances.
Special Occasion Gatherings
- Special occasion gatherings can include back-yard weddings, baby showers, retirement gatherings, birthday parties, anniversary gatherings, and so on. Individuals are encouraged to keep these types of gatherings small and within the personal gathering limit where possible.
- For special occasion gatherings of more than 20 people, individuals who are not a business or organization can organize up to 50 people, with physical distancing between households/groups of close contacts.
- To be eligible for the organized gathering limit of 50:
- You must submit an operational plan to the Chief Public Health Office a minimum of 10 business days in advance of when you require feedback,
- You recognize it is the responsibility of the organizer to ensure that appropriate health and safety protocols are in place and followed, including physical distancing between people from different households,
- If you foresee problems with putting into practice your operational plan, including keeping people physically distanced, you need to consider whether to go ahead with the event as originally planned and/or what modifications would be needed in order to ensure that measures are followed, and
- If the event does not comply with the public health orders, you are liable for offences under the Public Health Act (which includes fines).
Alcohol Service at Organized Gatherings at Licensed Food Premises
- Seated service should be in place where at all possible.
- Where seated service is not possible due to operational barriers (such as staffing), individuals may get up from their seats to purchase alcohol from a bar provided:
- Organizers/operators will ensure there will not be mixing of patrons within 6 ft., and
- Appropriate public health measures are in place, including:
- Appropriate staffing is in place to monitor compliance;
- All patrons in the line-up are 6 ft. away from any individuals seated or otherwise partaking in the gathering;
- Congestion at the bar is minimized;
- Physical cues such as floor markings are used to promote distancing among individuals in a line-up;
- If risk of brief contact within 6 ft. between the bartender and patrons, a physical barrier should be in place (provided it does not alter egress in the instance of an emergency);
- The bartender frequently practices hand hygiene, wears a non-medical mask, and is screened for symptoms of COVID-19;
- Patrons wear a non-medical mask;
- Ensure alcohol-based sanitizers are available and within easy reach;
- All other guidance for food premises are in place, including frequent cleaning and disinfection of high touch surfaces, and encourage patrons to use cashless payment when possible (e.g. debit machines);
- Patrons are informed of protocols for accessing the bar (e.g. only get up if there is no or small line-up);
- For multiple gatherings, each cohort has a designated bar area OR separate times to access the same bar; and
- Patrons must be seated before consuming alcohol.