Post Circuit Breaker Measures: Gatherings Guidance
Beginning Thursday, 4 March 2021, circuit breaker measures are in place until 8 am 14 March 2021. The measures will be reassessed throughout. These restrictions override all other existing sector specific public health guidance.
As of January 23, 2021
For personal gatherings (e.g. large families having visitors or playing frisbee in the park), limits are your household and up to ten (10) additional individuals 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, 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 in place and followed that outlines the measures to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19
- 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
- Three additional cohorts of up to 50 people, with each cohort kept separate as per the multiple gatherings guidance, is permitted with prior approval by the Chief Public Health Office; with the exception of weddings and funerals which are not eligible for multiple gatherings
Organized gatherings are not permitted at personal dwellings.
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 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 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.
- 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 personal 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 for indoors or outdoors. 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 and additional measures outlined in the Post Circuit Breaker Holiday Measures
- Restaurants – see Food Premises Guidance
- Fitness facilities, gyms, and libraries, except for group classes or gatherings on those premises – see Fitness Facilities Guidance and additional measures outlined in the Post Circuit Breaker Holiday Measures
- Child care facilities, licensed and unlicensed
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 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.
- 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 ten. 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 total may be held, provided:
- If sharing food:
- do not have self serve buffets; 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) 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. 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.