Guidance for Organized Events and Gatherings

As part of the government’s staged approach to reopening the province, organized events and gatherings both indoors and outdoors are now permitted with certain conditions, as described in this guidance document.

This guidance reflects the current need for protection from COVID-19. As the spread of infection is brought under further control, revised guidance will be issued. Organizers are responsible for preventing the risk of infection among staff, volunteers and guests.

This guideline covers:

  • Events or gatherings held in locations monitored by staff, such as:
    • Bars
    • Restaurants
    • Cinemas
    • Convention centres
    • Banquet halls
    • Gyms
    • Places of worship
    • Recreational sporting events
    • Performing art events
  • Events and gatherings associated with weddings (wedding receptions, etc.)
  • Events and gatherings associated with funerals (celebration of life, funeral receptions, etc.)

NOTE: For the celebration of weddings or funerals, religious services, rites, or ceremonies use the guidelines for Places of Worship.

Indoor Gatherings*

  • Attendance must be limited to 50 people, excluding the organizers, staff and volunteers.
  • Ensure physical distancing (at least two metres) is maintained between persons at all times (unless persons are in the same social circle).
  • All participants must wear face coverings.
  • Singing and dancing by the attendees are not allowed.
  • A person or group under contract with the establishment may dance, sing or perform music but must comply with the following:
    • Singers and players of brass or wind instruments must be separated from any spectators by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.
    • Every performer and other person who provides work for the business or place must maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person, except if it is necessary for the performers to be closer to each other for the purposes of the performance or rehearsal.

Outdoor Gatherings

  • Attendance must be limited to 100 people, excluding the organizers, staff and volunteers.
  • Ensure physical distancing (at least two metres) is maintained between persons at all times.
  • Face coverings should be worn if physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Food Served at Any Type of Celebration (Indoors or Outdoors)

  • No buffet-style service may be provided.
  • Patrons must be seated when eating or drinking at the establishment.
  • The establishment must be configured so that patrons seated at the same or different tables are separated by a distance of at least two metres.

Preparation

  • Consider alternative ways to involve individuals at greater risk from COVID-19, including online services.
  • Remind everyone (staff, volunteers and guests) not to attend the gathering in person if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Plan how to ensure physical distancing. The reduced capacity number includes all participants (excluding organizers, staff and volunteers) except children under two years of age:
    • Plan the quantity of seating to allow for a two metre/six-foot distance between individuals or household groups: remove extra seats or make them unavailable.
    • Design a flow map to control movement both indoors and outdoors, to ensure a two metre/six-foot distance. Verify to determine if separate entrances and exits are necessary. Discourage movement against the flow of people moving in the space. It may be necessary to mark off two metre/six-foot distances outside and/or in a vestibule if it is anticipated that lines will form. Consider having someone control the flow of traffic.
  • Consider developing a system to RSVP attendance to specific events. This may also allow for online screening of attendees at the same time.
  • Ensure all water systems (drinking fountains) are safe to use after the prolonged facility shutdown to minimize the risk of diseases associated with water.
  • Encourage participants to bring their own water bottles.
  • If drinking fountains are available, ensure they are used safely and cleaned and disinfected daily and as necessary.
  • Develop a schedule for increased routine cleaning and disinfecting.

Prevent COVID-19 Outbreaks

  • Keep a record of attendance in the event that someone has attended while contagious.
    • This could include keeping a record of online RSVPs, having someone observe and record names, having members sign in through a safe method (do not provide a pen that can be passed between people), or providing a list of members upon request.
  • If there is a case of COVID-19 who was contagious while attending services, public health will use that list to notify the attendees and staff. This may include instructions to self-isolate or self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Anyone with even one symptom of COVID-19 should get tested and stay home.
  • Public health will advise of any additional cleaning and disinfecting measures needed to reduce the risk of spread in the setting.

Establish Policies for Health Screening

Staff and volunteers must be screened each time before starting their shift. Persons who become ill while at the gathering must go home immediately and self-isolate. They can call the EOHU, their healthcare provider or a COVID-19 Assessment Centre for guidance about testing.

Staff and volunteers must report illness immediately to their manager and stay home if they are sick.

Training

All attendees, staff and volunteers must use a mask/face covering when indoors at all times. However, attendees may remove their mask temporarily when they sit down for a meal.

Instruct staff and volunteers on proper hand hygiene techniques and respiratory etiquette, proper use of masks, and how to clean or discard single use masks appropriately.

Print and Post Signs

Add similar information to the organization’s website. Encourage attendees to use the online self-assessment tool before attending the event and/or set up a screening station away from the entrance to avoid crowding.

During the Gathering

  • Modify the activities before and during the gathering to ensure a two metre/six-foot distance between staff, volunteers and attendees at all times.
  • Children should remain with their parents. Separate children’s activities should be suspended.
  • Activities that may increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission should be altered or discontinued.
  • Ensure attendees use a mask/face covering.
  • Avoid any physical contact. Encourage people to greet each other with a smile, bow or wave
  • Avoid use of items that are difficult to clean, sanitize or disinfect.
  • Do not hand out or share items that cannot be cleaned and sanitized between uses.
  • Encourage hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette with hand sanitizer stations (60% alcohol concentration). Avoid access to hand sanitizer by young children without supervision.
  • Encourage good respiratory etiquette. Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow when coughing or sneezing, or use a tissue and discard in waste bin. Wash or sanitize hands afterwards.

Enhanced Cleaning and Disinfection

  • Use appropriate cleaner and disinfectant as per manufacturer’s instructions (consult the list of acceptable disinfectants).   
  • High traffic areas and frequently-touched surfaces and objects (e.g. doorknobs, elevator buttons, light switches, toilet handles, countertops, handrails) should be cleaned and disinfected by designated employees at least twice per day, and when visibly dirty.
  • Provide seating and furniture that are easy to clean and disinfect.
    • Provide disinfecting wipes for visitors to wipe down seating areas prior to use.
  • Where provided, increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting washrooms.

More Information

For more information, visit the Eastern Ontario Health Unit’s (EOHU) website at www.EOHU.ca/coronavirus or call 1 800 267-7120.

Resources

* Does not include ceremonies for weddings, funerals, religious services or rites. Indoor ceremonies for weddings, funerals, religious services or rites are limited to 30% of the capacity of the room (whether conducted at a place of worship or any other public indoor setting.) Please consult the Places of Worship guidelines for details.

Beginning August 21, 2020, facilities that rent out professional meeting and event spaces (including convention centres, hotels, motels, resorts, banquet halls and conference centres) can have up to 50 guests for each indoor meeting room or event space within the facility. Consult the Guidance for professional meeting and event facilities during COVID-19.

Eastern Ontatio Health Unit / Bureau de santé de l'Ontario