Last updated: November 26, 2020 at 5:05 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.
The following interim guidance is to support owners and operators of funeral homes and crematoriums, including funeral directors, to reduce the spread of COVID-19. More information about COVID-19 can be found in the Toronto Public Health (TPH) COVID-19 Fact Sheet.
Toronto is currently in the grey lockdown zone of the provincial government’s COVID-19 Response Framework. This guidance document describes the requirements operators must comply with under the Reopening Ontario Act.
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 and the Funeral Service Association of Canada.
Ontario Regulation 82/20 requires that facilities limit the number of persons in the facility such that every member of the public is able to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres (six feet) from every other person.
Indoor and outdoor dining at food establishments, including restaurants and event spaces, is not permitted. Operators should follow Guidance for Indoor and Outdoor Events
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.