Gatherings have the potential for serious public health consequences if they are not planned and managed carefully. They can increase the spread of infectious diseases and cause additional strain on the health care system when held during outbreaks.

Effective Saturday, September 19, 2020, the Ontario government lowered the limits on unmonitored and private social gatherings across the province. The new limits are:

  • 10 people at an indoor event or gathering (previous limit was 50)
  • 25 people at an outdoor event or gathering (previous limit was 100)

The lowered limits apply to all unmonitored and private social gatherings such as functions, parties, dinners, gatherings, BBQs and wedding receptions held in private residences, backyards, parks and other recreational areas.

As was the case with the previous limits, indoor and outdoor gatherings cannot be combined. Gatherings of 35 people in total (25 outdoors and 10 indoors) are also not permitted.

Limits do not apply to events held in monitored areas

The new limits do not apply to 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

The existing rules for these settings continue to be in effect.

Indoor gathering limits apply to events that are fully or partially indoors. Indoor events and gatherings cannot be combined with an outdoor event or gathering to increase the applicable gathering size. People at their place of work, including performers and crews, do not count towards gathering limit.

Regardless of location, physical distancing measures must be respected by keeping at least two metres away from those outside of their direct household or family or social circle.

  • Social or public gatherings may include different social circles but are subject to gathering limits and physical distancing of at least two metres. Social circles should continue to be kept at 10 people.
  • Gathering outdoors is preferred to gathering indoors.

Please note that the use face coverings or face masks (non-medical masks such as cloth masks) is required in public areas of an indoor/enclosed space. Please see the Mandatory Mask Directive for Enclosed Public Spaces for more information.

In addition, event organizers are encouraged to keep a record of attendance. This will facilitate contact tracing by the EOHU and other public health agencies in the event that someone who attended the establishment or event tests positive for COVID-19 in the following days.

The Government of Canada has created a guidance document with recommendations regarding mass gatherings, to reduce the spread of COVID-19: Risk-informed decision making for mass gatherings during COVID-19 global outbreak.

Places of Worship

  • All places of worship in Ontario can open with physical distancing in place and attendance limited to no more than 30 per cent of the building capacity to ensure the safety of worshippers.

Weddings and Funerals

  • For wedding and funeral ceremonies, attendance is limited to a maximum of 30 per cent capacity of the ceremony venue for indoor wedding and funeral ceremonies.
  • For indoor or outdoor wedding and funeral receptions held in a location monitored by staff, the maximum number of people allowed is 50 people for indoor gatherings and 100 people for outdoor gatherings.

For both indoor and outdoor wedding and funeral ceremonies and receptions, people in attendance must continue to follow proper health and safety advice, including practising physical distancing from people who are not from the same household or their established 10-person family or social circle.

Family or Social Circle

People throughout Ontario are also being encouraged to establish a family or social circle of no more than 10 people who can interact and come into close contact with one another without physical distancing.

Everyone living in the same household is in a social circle.  People in the same social circle:

  • Do not have to physically distance
  • Can hug and touch each other
  • Should continue to follow public health advice, including frequently washing their hands and taking everyday actions to help stop the spread of COVID-19

To learn more, read the How To Build Your Social Circle guideline. 

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