Last updated: October 5, 2020 at 6 p.m.
Read Toronto Public Health’s Guidance for Funeral Homes (also available below), Guidance for Visiting 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.
Last updated: May 4, 2020
COVID-19 is an infection caused by a new type of coronavirus. COVID-19 can present as an acute respiratory illness in humans. The virus is spread mainly from person-to-person through close contact. More information on COVID-19 can be found in the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Fact Sheet.
The Government of Ontario has deemed businesses providing funeral, mortician, cremation, transfer, and burial services, and any related goods and products (such as coffins and embalming fluid), as essential services, and are permitted to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic. With current community transmission of COVID-19 in Toronto, funeral homes should take extra precaution in employing infection prevention and control (IPAC) measures to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
For specific information on body management (e.g. transportation, handling, embalming), please refer to
guidance provided by the following authorities/agencies:
The Bereavement Authority of Ontario (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. As of September 21, 2020, the BAO Registrar’s Directive states that the indoor gathering limit for cemeteries is 25 people, not counting staff. This limit applies to gatherings, attendances, funerals, visitations, funeral receptions, and graveside services.
For outdoor funeral services (visitations, receptions and graveside services) the gathering limit is up to a maximum of 100 attendees at a cemetery or funeral home’s property providing:
The Reopening Ontario Act, which states that the gathering limit for funerals must not exceed 30 per cent, applies strictly for gatherings in a building or structure that is not a private dwelling and makes provisions to ensure that everyone in attendance complies with public health requirements for physical distancing.
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.
Staff must be self-screened before each shift. Staff must inform their supervisor, and stay home if they are sick or unwell. Anyone who becomes ill while on the premises must go home right away and self-isolate. They should contact Telehealth Ontario, their health care provider or a COVID-19 assessment centre for guidance about testing.
The use of non-medical masks or face coverings is required in all indoor public spaces, as per a new City of Toronto bylaw. Operators are required to develop a policy and protocols on the wearing of masks. See sample policy on page 3. Communicate this new policy to staff and customers. Masks or face coverings can be worn outside where one is unable to maintain the appropriate physical distance with those they do not live with.