Last updated: January 10, 2022 at 9 p.m.

Read Toronto Public Health’s Guidance for Funeral Homes and Crematoriums (also available below), Guidance for Cemeteries (also available below) and Guidance for Planning a Funeral Reception or Celebration of Life. Also read the tips for the public attending faith-based services and events and funerals.

See also the Ontario Ministry of Health’s guidance for funeral and bereavement services.

On January 4, 2021, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health issued a Letter of Instruction to all employers in the City of Toronto permitted to be open under the Reopening Ontario Act. Employers permitted to be open are required to take the additional measures set out in this Letter to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The following guidance is to support owners and operators of funeral homes and crematoriums, including funeral directors, to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This document describes the requirements operators must comply with under the Reopening Ontario Act and the Bereavement Authority of Ontario (BAO).

The BAO is a government delegated authority that works on behalf of the provincial Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. The BAO is responsible for licensed funeral establishment operators, directors and pre-planners, and cemetery, crematorium and alternative disposition operators.

Responsibility of owners and operators

All owners and operators are responsible for ensuring that their funeral home or crematorium and services offered are in compliance with these public health guidelines, and all emergency orders made under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020. In addition, owners/operators should review their infection prevention and control policies and procedures to ensure they are consistent with professional best practices, including guidance provided by the Bereavement Authority of Ontario (BAO) and the Funeral Service Association of Canada.

The aim and purpose of this document is to assist individuals and businesses with information related to the Ontario Government’s Roadmap to Reopen framework as well as Toronto Public Health requirements to reduce the spread of COVID-19. It is important to know that breaches of some of these directions will constitute offences under provincial regulations or other public health legal requirements. While we aim to provide relevant and timely information, no guarantee can be given as to the accuracy or completeness of any information provided. This guidance is not intended to nor does it provide legal advice and should not be relied upon or treated as legal advice. Users seeking legal advice should consult with a qualified legal professional.

Bereavement Authority of Canada Directives

COVID-19 Vaccination Policy

On September 2, 2021, the BAO issued a Registrar’s Directive: Funeral homes and transfer services must implement a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy. The directive requires that funeral establishments and transfer service operators implement a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy. The directive comes into effect September 10, 2021.

New Temporary Rules for Funeral Services

In alignment with the province’s Modified Step 2 measures of the Roadmap to Reopen, the BAO issued a Registrar’s Directive: New temporary rules for funeral services. The Directive refers to the regulations described in O.Reg 263/20, effective January 5, 2022. Further, the Directive provides additional guidance on staffing, indoor funeral services, cremation and outdoor/graveside services. Please see the Directive for more details.

Protective measures to keep everyone safe

  • Get a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Stay home when you are sick, even if symptoms are mild.
  • Keep a two metre distance from those you don’t live with, when possible.
  • Wash your hands often, and avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  • Wear a face mask or covering when in indoor public spaces, and outdoors when physical distancing is difficult.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

More information about COVID-19 can be found in the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Fact Sheet.

Measures for all workplaces, businesses & organizations

Review the Guidance for Employers on Preventing COVID-19 in the Workplace to plan and implement protocols to keep staff and patrons safe. Operators must also consider the following:

  • Staff and patron attendance records
    • Collect attendance records and contact information of all staff, visitors and families. Toronto Public Health will use this list to help with contact tracing efforts in the event that a person tests positive or an outbreak is identified.
    • Providing personal information is voluntary for attendees. Your organization must obtain a person’s consent and inform them of the purpose and legal authority for collecting this information.
    • Operators must take reasonable action to secure the personal information collected (e.g. locked drawer or secure electronic system).
    • Any personal information that is collected for COVID-19 contract tracing can only be used for this purpose, unless an individual provides their consent. Records should be kept for 30 days, and then shredded.
  • Health screening for staff and patrons
  • Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
    • Provide hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol-based) near entrances and other high touch locations for visitors and staff use. Monitor and refill, as needed.
    • Provide additional supplies such as individual tissue packs and no-touch waste receptacles in appropriate areas/locations.
    • Do not share items such as water pitchers, prayer books or programs.

Safety Plan

  • Businesses that are open are required to prepare a workplace safety plan. This safety plan must:
    • Describe measures/procedures that have been or will be implemented in the organization to reduce spread of COVID-19.
    • Include measures for screening, physical distancing, masks, cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and objects, the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE) and preventing and controlling crowds.
    • Be in writing and made available to any person for review on request.
    • Be posted in a highly visible place for people working at or attending the location.
  • Use the COVID-19 Safety Plan Checklist to develop your safety plan.

Follow capacity limits

  • Ontario Regulation 263/20 requires that the number of persons occupying any room in the building or structure while attending the gathering must not exceed 50 per cent of the capacity of the particular room. All persons attending the gathering must comply with public health guidance on physical distancing.
  • Social gatherings associated with a funeral or a religious service, rite or ceremony cannot exceed more than 5 people indoors, or 10 people outdoors, with physical distancing. See Guidance for Event and Gatherings.

The following are suggestions for achieving compliance with capacity limits:

  • Consider cancelling or holding virtually in-person activities that are discretionary or for those at higher risk of COVID-19.
  • Use phone, email, video chats and e-signature applications to limit in-person visits.
  • Offer remote services such as video conferencing to assist families with planning and arrangements, such as online selection of products, services or rooms.
  • Stagger viewing times and set limits on the number of people allowed into the room at any given time to allow for physical distancing.
  • Post signage at the entrance stating the maximum number of persons permitted at any one time.
  • Assign staff to monitor the number of visitors entering and exiting to ensure adherence to the capacity limit. Once the maximum number of persons permitted has been reached, ask visitors to wait outside or in their car until they are called.
  • Remove unnecessary furniture (e.g. chairs, benches) to accommodate the reduced facility capacity.
  • Recommend for families to delay larger memorial services, or celebrations of life events until there are less restrictive group gathering measures in place or consider hosting it outdoors.
  • Consider outdoor or drive-in services, live streaming or other virtual technologies for funeral or memorial service to include guests who are at greater risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

Practice physical distancing

  • Plan and modify the layout to ensure enough space is provided for staff, families and visitors to maintain physical distancing of least two metres.
  • Post physical distancing signs at all entrances, reception counters, visitation rooms.
  • Design a walking flow (e.g. creating one-directional paths with prominent signage and/or floor markings), where appropriate.
  • Use floor markers for the receiving line to guide visitors to stand two metres apart.
  • Use visual markers, stickers or pylons to encourage physical distancing,
  • Tape off or space seats to maintain a two metre distance for people not in the same household.
  • Remind staff, families and visitors to keep at least two metres away from people they don’t live with
  • Ask guests to refrain from hugging, kissing and shaking hands during the service or reception. Suggest use of eye contact, with a smile or a nod as an expression of sympathy.
  • Install plexiglass/barriers, if possible, where there will be close contact between staff and clients (e.g. reception counters)
  • Group or congregational singing is strongly discouraged, even with masks.
  • Physical distancing or a barrier is required indoors when workers remove face coverings to eat or drink

Support and encourage proper use of masks

  • The use of masks or face coverings is mandatory in all indoor public settings, as per Ontario Regulation 263/20 and City of Toronto By-law 541-2020.
  • Masks or face coverings are strongly recommended outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Facility owners and operators must develop a policy on the wearing of masks, as per City of Toronto By-Law 541-2020, and train staff on the policy. See the checklist and sample policy.
  • Some individuals cannot wear a mask and are exempted, including children under two, people with health issues, people who are unable to put on a mask without assistance. Proof of exemption is not required.
  • More information is available here.

Special considerations for deaths due to COVID-19

Follow food and drink service restrictions

Indoor dining is not permitted in Modified Step 2. Box lunches can be made available for guests to take away off the premises. On-site coffee and beverage dispensers should be disabled. Operators should follow Guidance for Food Premises for information on outdoor dining.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)

  • Increase the introduction and circulation of outdoor air by maximizing the outdoor air ratio of the HVAC system settings, or by opening windows and doors, where possible. Avoid recirculating air.
  • Do not open windows and doors if doing so poses a safety risk.
  • Ensure the HVAC system(s) are properly maintained.
  • Where provided, use the highest efficiency filters that are compatible with the HVAC system.
  • Keep areas near HVAC inlets and outlets clear.
    • Seating and activities should be arranged away from areas with high airflow (i.e. not in front of air vents).
  • Rooms where indoor ceiling fans are used should have an upward airflow rotation.
  • If portable fans are used, limit the blowing of air across people and surfaces by positioning them to provide an upward movement of air.
  • For more information, review TPH’s COVID-19: Transmission, Aerosols and Ventilation fact sheet.

Increase public health awareness

  • Inform staff, family members and visitors about the precautions you are taking to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Encourage guests born in 2016 or earlier to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Read and share information about the vaccine and where to get vaccinated.
  • Information can be communicated on the funeral homes or crematorium’s website, social media account, or through automated telephone or e-mail messages.
  • Designate a contact person (e.g. supervisor) to respond to COVID-19 concerns from staff, family members and visitors.
  • Encourage staff and visitors to download the COVID Alert app. They will be notified directly if they have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.
  • Download and display posters in high visibility areas in your setting to promote messages about how to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Additional resources


Download this information as a PDF.

The following guidance is to support owners and operators of cemeteries to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This document describes the requirements operators must comply with under the Reopening Ontario Act and the Bereavement Authority of Ontario (BAO).

The BAO is a government delegated authority that works on behalf of the provincial Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. The BAO is responsible for licensed funeral establishment operators, directors and pre-planners, and cemetery, crematorium and alternative disposition operators.

The aim and purpose of this document is to assist individuals and businesses with information related to the Ontario Government’s reopening framework as well as Toronto Public Health requirements to reduce the spread of COVID-19. It is important to know that breaches of some of these directions will constitute offences under provincial regulations or other public health legal requirements. While we aim to provide relevant and timely information, no guarantee can be given as to the accuracy or completeness of any information provided. This guidance is not intended to nor does it provide legal advice and should not be relied upon or treated as legal advice. Users seeking legal advice should consult with a qualified legal professional.

Bereavement Authority of Canada Directives

COVID-19 Vaccination Policy

On September 2, 2021, the BAO issued a Registrar’s Directive: Funeral homes and transfer services must implement a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy. The directive requires that funeral establishments and transfer service operators implement a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy. The directive comes into effect September 10, 2021.

New Temporary Rules for Funeral Services

In alignment with the province’s Modified Step 2 measures of the Roadmap to Reopen, the BAO issued a Registrar’s Directive: New temporary rules for funeral services. The Directive refers to the regulations described in O.Reg 263/20, effective January 5, 2022. Further, the Directive provides additional guidance on staffing and outdoor/graveside services. Please see the Directive for more details.

The decision to close or limit access to a cemetery is within the rights of the cemetery director and/or manager, and are aligned with the directives issued by the BAO. Cemetery directors should review their infection prevention and control (IPAC) policies to ensure they are consistent with professional practices, including guidance provided by the Bereavement Authority of Ontario.

Measures for All Workplaces, Organizations & Businesses

Review the Guidance for Employers on Preventing COVID-19 in the Workplace to plan and implement protocols to keep staff and patrons safe. Operators must also consider the following:

  • Attendance records for staff and patrons
    • Collect the date, names and contact phone number or email address of the staff, volunteers, and visitors who attend each service. This will support public health contact tracing efforts in the event that a visitor or staff tests positive for COVID-19.
    • Providing personal information is voluntary for attendees. Your organization must obtain a person’s consent and inform them of the purpose and legal authority for collecting this information.
    • Operators must take reasonable action to secure the personal information collected (e.g. locked drawer or secure electronic system).

Any personal information that is collected for COVID-19 contract tracing can only be used for this purpose, unless an individual provides their consent. Records should be kept for 30 days, and then shredded.

Safety plan

All businesses that are open must prepare a safety plan. This safety plan must:

  • Describe measures/procedures that have been or will be implemented in the business, place, facility or establishment to reduce spread of COVID-19.
  • Include measures for screening, physical distancing, masks, cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and objects, wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE) and preventing and controlling crowding.
  • Be in writing and made available to any person for review on request.
  • Be posted in a visible place to come to the attention of those working or attending the location.

Use the COVID-19 Safety Plan Checklist to develop your safety plan.

Staff Training

  • Ensure staff are trained on IPAC measures, policies and procedures.
  • Ensure staff are trained on COVID-19 precautions, including occupational health and safety guidelines.
  • Train staff on the City mask bylaw (see below) and your organization’s mask policy, including who is exempt. Proof of exemption is not required.
  • Instruct staff and volunteers on proper hand hygiene techniques and respiratory etiquette, when to use masks, the proper use of mask, and how to clean or discard single use masks appropriately.
  • Schedule frequent cleaning of public spaces, including high-touch surfaces. More information cleaning and disinfecting can be found here.
  • Physical distancing or a barrier is required indoors when workers remove face coverings to eat or drink.

Mask Bylaw

  • The use of non-medical masks or face coverings is required in all indoor public spaces, as per the City of Toronto bylaw and Ontario Regulation 263/20.
  • Operators are required to develop a policy on the wearing of masks. See sample policy. Communicate this new policy to staff and patrons.
  • Masks or face coverings are recommended outdoors when physical distancing is difficult.

Capacity Limits & Physical Distancing

  • Ontario Regulation 263/20 requires that indoor facilities limit the number of persons occupying any room in the building or structure while attending the gathering must not exceed 50 per cent of the capacity of the particular room. All persons attending the gathering must comply with public health guidance on physical distancing. Plan and modify the layout of your setting, if possible, to ensure enough space is provided for patrons and staff to maintain physical distancing.
  • Consider cancelling or holding virtually in-person services, staff meetings, etc. that are discretionary or for those at higher risk of COVID-19.
  • Social gatherings associated with a funeral are limited to 5 people indoors or 10 people outdoors, with physical distancing.

Food and beverages

Public Health Measures for Visitors

  • Encourage guests born in 2016 or earlier to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Read and share information about the vaccine and where to get vaccinated.
  • Wash hands often, including before and after visiting the gravesite, or use hand-sanitizer with an alcohol concentration of at least 70%.
  • Maintain at least two metres distance from people you don’t live, where possible.
  • Wear a mask at all times when entering indoor spaces (e.g. mausoleum) and outdoors if physical distancing is difficult.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow or into a tissue. Immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash your hands.
  • Avoid touching face with unwashed hands.
  • Download the COVID Alert app so you can be notified directly if you have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.

Print and Post Signs

Other Resources


Download this information as a PDF.