New Normal: Gatherings Guidance
As of October 1, 2020
For personal gatherings (e.g. large families having visitors or playing frisbee in the park), limits are 20 people indoors and outdoors from different households, while maintaining a two-metre separation.
Larger organized gatherings (e.g. worship services, organized sports and recreation, day camps, events including weddings, funerals, burials, and graduations) are permitted to include up to 50 people indoors or outdoors from different households with:
- An operational plan
- Physical distancing of 2 meters maintained with individuals who are not part of one’s household
- Limited sharing of equipment among individuals from different households and precautions taken
- Additional cohorts of up to 50 people, with each cohort kept separate, are permitted with prior approval by the Chief Public Health Office.
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.
- 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.
- Singing is permitted, at a distance of 3.5 m (12 feet) apart from one another and everyone else unless a non-medical mask is worn, in which case, singers must remain a minimum of 2 metres (6 feet) apart from one another and everyone else.
- 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.
- Limit shared equipment among individuals from different households (e.g. soccer ball, outdoor playground equipment). Should anything be shared, take precautions such as hand hygiene, no one participating who is ill, and sanitize 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 is maintained, or if it cannot be maintained, a non-medical mask is recommended.
- Gatherings should not include dance floors, due to challenges in maintaining physical distancing. For weddings, the couple's first dance and parent-child dance would be exceptions. (Note: danced classes would be permitted following the organized recreation and team sport guidance).
- For greater clarity, an operational plan is not required for gatherings like weddings, personal faith gatherings, or recreational activities that occur in a person’s primary residence or on personal property (not open to the public), where the numbers fall within the personal gathering limit of 20 indoors or outdoors. If the gathering exceeds the personal gathering limits, or 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
These recommendations apply to any personal gathering in a private dwelling, including apartments and condominiums, or in a public space, which include members from different households, not associated with a business, service or organization.
- Do not have visitors if a member of your household is in self-isolation.
- You may extend your household unit by one or two members who are important to supporting your household or who you feel may need closer contact and support. This guideline does not apply to these one or two individuals who effectively become an extended part of your household (except if anyone involved is required to self-isolate).
- 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.
- Do not join or host a gathering if you are sick.
- Keep a log of interactions to self-monitor and to facilitate contact tracing should a case of COVID-19 be detected.
- For sleepovers among children from different households, separate rooms or a minimum of two metres (six feet) from each other are recommended.
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 at all times.
Additional measures for organized gatherings, coordinated by organizers, businesses, services, or organizations :
- 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 twenty. 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. If physical distancing cannot be maintained among individuals from different households, a non-medical mask is strong recommended. 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. For greater clarity, for workplace meetings and events, physical distancing among employees should still be maintained. It isn’t appropriate for organizers to be seating people together without physical distancing, except as described above.
- 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 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.
- Overnight gatherings (children’s camps, for example) may occur, provided:
- public health measures are in place,
- the gathering numbers and other public health measures are in place and followed, AND
- individuals from different households sleep in separate rooms OR
- with groups sharing a room kept small and consistent, and able to maintain a minimum of two metres (six feet) from each other.
- 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.
- Print and post signage outlining policies and procedures such as:
- Physical distancing expectations,
- Hand hygiene,
- Respiratory etiquette (coughing and sneezing), and
- Cleaning and disinfection practices and expectations.
- Print and post signage to notify individuals that they should not attend if they have symptoms of COVID-19.