Last updated: October 30, 2020 at 9:25 a.m.

Read Toronto Public Health’s Guidance for planning indoor and outdoor events and gatherings.

 

The following guidance is intended to help organizers and permit-holders of events and gatherings reduce the spread of COVID-19. Indoor and outdoor events/gatherings covered within this guidance include:

  • Concerts and live shows, including performing arts events
  • Meeting or event spaces
  • Movie theatres/cinemas
  • All other organized or spontaneous indoor and outdoor events and social gatherings (e.g. parties, fundraisers, fairs, wedding receptions, funeral receptions).

Provincial Orders

Under the Reopening Ontario Act – modified Stage 2 Orders, organized public events and gatherings must comply with the following restrictions:

  • Cinemas and movie theatres must be closed.
  • Indoor dining in a food premise (e.g. restaurant, banquet hall) is not permitted.
  • Dancing, singing and the live performance of brass or wind instruments in a food premise (e.g. restaurant, banquet hall) is not permitted.
  • Concert venues, theatres and cinemas may open for the purpose of rehearsing or performing a recorded or broadcasted concert, artistic event, theatrical performance or other performance if they comply with the following conditions:
    • No spectators may be permitted in the concert venue, theatre or cinema.
    • Every performer and other person who provides work for the concert venue, theatre or cinema must maintain at least two metres physical distance from every other person, except:
      • if it is necessary for the performers or other persons to be closer to each other for purposes

of the performance or rehearsal, or

  • where necessary for the purposes of health and safety.
  • Singers and players of brass or wind instruments must be separated from any other performers by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.

Changes to gathering limits (O Reg 263/20)
Meetings, events and social gatherings are restricted to 10 people or less indoors and 25 people or less outdoors. No more than six people may be seated at a table in a rented space.

  • Gathering limits are subject to physical distancing requirements – all guests must maintain two metres/six feet distance from those outside their household.
  • Concerts, artistic events, theatrical performances and other performances for more than 10 people are permitted, but only if they are provided in a drive-in or drive-through
  • Gatherings for the purposes of religious services, rites or ceremonies, and wedding ceremonies or funeral services are limited to up to 30% of the venue’s room capacity indoors and 100 people outdoors. Physical distancing must be maintained at all times.
  • Social gatherings associated with wedding, funeral or religious services, rites or ceremonies (e.g. reception, party) must comply with the modified Stage 2 indoor (10 persons) and outdoor (25 persons) gathering limits, as above, and not 30% of the room’s capacity.
  • Indoor events and gatherings cannot be combined with outdoor events or gatherings to increase the applicable gathering size. Indoor capacity limits apply to events that are fully or partially indoors.

All planners, organizers, operators and permit-holders of events/gatherings, regardless of their purpose and size, have a responsibility to assess the risks associated with their event/gathering, and their ability to mitigate these risks. They are responsible for implementing measures to reduce the risk of infection among all those who participate in their activities (e.g. staff, performers, volunteers, attendees). This includes management of lines or crowds at entrance and exit points and around the perimeter of the event space. Events that contravene these public health orders are subject to fines.

This document does not replace the need for applicable City permits. COVID-19 mitigation and safety measures are a new consideration as part of event permitting, however, they do not replace any pre-existing permit requirements, health and safety practices, or conditions.

Provincial orders under the Reopening Ontario Act and/or guidance related to events and social gatherings may change. Please check the City of Toronto website regularly for updated guidance.

COVID-19 Transmission

Respiratory transmission: COVID-19 is an illness that is spread mainly from person-to-person through close contact from respiratory droplets of someone with COVID-19. The respiratory droplets can travel up to two metres/six feet when we cough, sneeze or talk. The more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the potential risk of COVID-19 infection and spread.

Contaminated surfaces: It is possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes. The virus can survive on plastic and stainless steel surfaces for up to 72 hours. More information about COVID-19 can be found in the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Fact Sheet.

Protective Measures to Keep Everyone Safe

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Keep a two metre/six foot distance from people 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 mask or face covering when you are in indoor public spaces, as per the City bylaw, and when you cannot maintain two metre/six foot distance outdoors.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Physical Distancing

  • Physical distancing means keeping a distance of two metres/six feet from others. Plan and modify the layout of your setting to ensure enough space is provided for attendees, vendors, performers and staff to maintain physical distancing.
  • Calculate the maximum number of guests permitted according to current provincial regulations or physical distancing requirements, whichever is less. Limit the number of guests accordingly.
    • The maximum number of guests that should be permitted at any one time based on physical distancing requirements can be calculated as one person per two metres squared (four square metres or 43 square feet) of publicly accessible floor space.
    • Consider a booking system or issuing tickets, even for free events.
  • Access to the event/venue should only be permitted to staff, volunteers, vendors, hired performers and guests who are registered or have a ticket.
    • Public access to the event/meeting space, room or thoroughfare should not be permitted.
    • The need to access a room through other rooms that are not part of the same event/meeting should be limited or minimized. This should be monitored by staff.
  • Professional meeting/events should minimize allowing additional guests enter the space. Once a guest leaves, the facility should not allow entry of a new guest (i.e. no sharing of passes between guests).

Modify Programming

  • Consider virtual options (e.g. live streaming, pre-recorded shows, small acoustic concerts, solo performances, or virtual reality and other digital experiences).
  • Where possible, hold events outdoors instead of indoors.
  • Limit or cancel activities where distances or other appropriate controls cannot be implemented such as guests standing by the stage, moshing and crowd surfing, photo opportunities, autographs, backstage access, etc.
  • Buskers and other street performance events that attract crowds outside of a venue’s controlled area are not permitted due to the difficulty of maintaining appropriate distancing and managing the size of the gathering.
  • Offer more events/gatherings at a reduced capacity rather than hosting a single large event/ gathering (e.g. offer multiple, staggered activities with a limit on the number of guests).
  • Allow sufficient time between events/gatherings to allow safe and distanced exit and entry, and sufficient environmental cleaning in between.
  • Keep the duration of the event/gathering to a minimum to limit contact among guests.
  • Guests should remain seated as much as possible, with a maximum of six people per table.
  • Guests attending a multi-day event/meeting should remain with the same group/cohort for the duration of the entire event/meeting.
  • Close or restrict access to non-essential common areas (e.g. photo booth with props, merchandise kiosks, concession stands, communal lounges).
  • Discourage activities that can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 (e.g. singing, cheering, dancing, playing wind instruments, hugging), and encourage alternative practices, where applicable (e.g. humming, clapping, noisemakers, waving).

Modify and Arrange Site/Floor Plan

  • Design an attendee flow that encourages one-way movement with prominent signage and/or floor markings.
  • Increase floor marking and aisle signage to allow people to find their seats more easily.
  • Arrange, mark and/or assign seating to ensure no more than six people per table, and minimum two metres/six feet distance between individuals who are not members of the same.
  • Ensure that guests can access their event/meeting area without wandering (i.e. entering other event/meeting rooms/areas) and, if possible, use a dedicated entrance/exit.
  • Identify areas where crowding and bottlenecks are common, such as lobbies or bathrooms, and use volunteers, staff or barriers to redirect people who may gather in these areas.
  • Ensure enough space for people in high traffic areas, between chairs, tables, and places where people may gather.
  • Ensure a minimum distance of at least two metres/six feet between performers and audience seating by blocking off the front two rows of spectator seating, if necessary.
  • A plexiglass shield or other impermeable barrier is required between singers and players of brass or wind instruments and any spectators.

Manage Lines and Gatherings Within and Outside the Event

  • Use barriers/structures to enclose the event space/venue and manage capacity and pedestrian traffic flow.
  • Designate and manage entry and exit points to control the number of attendees. If the maximum number of attendees is reached, allow one person in for every person that leaves.
  • Stagger arrivals, departures and breaks, where possible, to reduce congestion at points of entrance and exit and in common areas.
  • Monitor and manage customer lines within and outside the venue.
  • Post physical distancing signs at all entrances, kiosks and/or service counters.
  • Place visual/textural markers spaced two metres/six feet apart (e.g. tape on the floor, pylons, signs) to encourage physical distancing.
  • Discourage people from gathering outside the venue.
  • Assign staff to monitor lines and to make public announcements reminding guests to keep two metres/six feet apart.

Ticket and Concession Kiosks/Booths

  • Encourage online or telephone ticket purchases to minimize line-ups at the ticket/service counter.
  • Include staggered arrival times to the ticket process to limit on-site queueing.
  • Install physical barriers at the point of sale (e.g. plexiglass shield).
  • Encourage electronic payment by debit or credit card, and to tap instead of using the PIN pad.
  • Use a contactless transaction process to exchange concessions and/or scan tickets.
  • Review the City of Toronto’s COVID-19 Guidance for Retail Settings, as applicable.

Bylaw on Use of Masks and Face Coverings

  • All staff, performers and guests must wear a mask or face covering indoors, as per a new City of Toronto bylaw and Reg. 263/20.
    • Some exceptions apply, including children under the age of two, and people with medical conditions that make wearing a mask difficult.
  • Masks or face coverings are strongly recommended outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • See Guidance for Employers on Preventing COVID-19 in the Workplace for more information.

Food and Drink

Changes to the sale and consumption of alcohol and hours of operation

As per O. Reg. 263/20 any establishment or special occasion permit licensed to sell and serve alcohol must ensure that:

  • liquor is sold or served only between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m.; and
  • no consumption of liquor is permitted in the business or place between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.
  • Venues that serve food and drink must also comply with the regulations and guidance for restaurants, bars, etc. Indoor dining is currently not permitted.
  • Where food and drink is served, guests must remain seated except to use the washroom, entering and exiting the area, or for the purposes of health and safety.
  • Plated and/or pre-packaged meals are preferred.
  • Communal and self-serve food services (e.g. buffets, passing of hors-d’oeuvres, fountain machines) are not permitted at this time.

Workplace Health and Safety

Review the Guidance for Employers on Preventing COVID-19 in the Workplace to plan and implement protocols to keep staff and customers safe, including:

  • Health screening for staff and customers:
    • Actively screen everyone (staff, guests, event planners, security, suppliers, contractors etc.) entering the facility. Questions can be answered on paper, online or by asking people directly.
    • Temperature checks are not required or recommended.
  • Mask/face coverings for staff and customers.
  • Cleaning and disinfection:
    • Minimise the use of linens so as to minimize exposure to contamination.
  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
  • Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
  • Managing COVID-19 in the workplace.

Communication

Other Resources


Events and Social Gatherings Quick Reference Guide

Social events/gatherings
Religious Service, Ceremony or Rite
Indoor gathering limit 10 people or less 30% of the room capacity or less
Outdoor[1] gathering limit 25 people or less 100 people or less
Food or drink Indoor dining is not permitted. If food or drink is served, guests must remain seated except to use the washroom or leave. No mingling.
Mask/face covering Mask/face covering must be worn at all times indoors, and outdoors when physical distancing is challenging.
Physical Distancing Guests should remain two metres/six feet from people they don’t live with.

[1] Outdoor spaces must have at least two full sides open to the outdoors and not be substantially blocked in any way.

Information about Drive-in and Drive-thru Events can be found here.


Download this information as a PDF.

In the midst of a global pandemic, there is still a need to come together to mourn loved ones, to celebrate their life, and to support one another. This checklist is intended to help guide you and your family for planning a safer gathering to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This is not a comprehensive list. Refer to the guidance for funeral homes & cemeteries for more information.

What we know

COVID-19 is spread by respiratory droplets. Many of the COVID-19 cases are from in-person transmission, sometimes even before symptoms begin. As this is a new disease, we are still learning about the long-term effects of COVID-19. To keep everyone safe, we need to limit gathering size, proximity, and duration.

Limit Numbers Limit Proximity
Limit Duration
Reduce gathering size for physical distancing and better ventilation. Maintain physical distancing and wear a mask to avoid respiratory droplets Limit the length of time people are together.

Mitigating Risks

With rising cases of COVID-19 in the community, it increases the risk of spreading the virus at in-person gatherings. The longer people are together in an enclosed setting, there is greater risk for COVID-19 transmission. Serving alcohol at social gatherings may also lower our attention to physical distancing and other safety measures.

Some family and friends are at greater risk for severe illness from COVID-19 (e.g. older adults, people with chronic conditions). Please adhere to the current public health orders. Think creatively to support each other during this difficult time, and focus on safety rather than just meeting compliance.

Complete the checklist below of required safety measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

A. Stay informed

  • Seek guidance from a funeral director, if applicable.
  • Ask questions from service providers you hire (e.g. venues, florist, food services).
  • Check the City’s website for up to date information about COVID-19.

B. Connect virtually to support the grieving process

  • Ask family and friends to contribute their memories and stories by emails, e-cards or on social media, or to sign the guest book on the funeral home website.
  • Create a virtual memory book, blog, or webpage for family and friends to share memories, photos or messages of support.
  • Organize virtual events with family and friends for prayer, spiritual readings etc.

C. Limit attendance

Gathering limits are regulated by the provincial Reopening Ontario Act. The number of guests depends on the ability to maintain physical distance and cannot exceed the provincial limits. Performers and staff does not count towards the gathering limits.

  • Limit in-person attendance. Larger events can be scheduled after the pandemic.
  • All gathering sizes must be based on sufficient space to ensure that everyone can maintain physical distancing of at least two metres from each other.
  • Include a virtual component to allow additional friends and family to participate.
Type of event Gatherings for religious service, rite, or ceremonies Social gatherings before or after a religious service or ceremony (e.g. funeral reception)
Indoor 30% of room capacity or less 10 people or less
Outdoor 100 people or less 25 people or less

D. Communicate before the event

  • Communicate online by social media, newspaper obituary or funeral home website.
  • Inform your guests about the measures that will keep everyone safe. Ask attendees to bring their own mask and have extras if people forget to bring one.
  • Ask attendees to smile or wave instead of hugs and handshakes express support during the service or reception. This sets expectations so guests will not feel awkward.
  • Encourage guests to stay home if they are feeling unwell. Post instructions on how to access the virtual service, so they can participate.

E. Encourage physical distancing

  • Arrange seating two metres apart and by households.
  • Post signs to remind guests to stay two metres from others not in their household.
  • Use floor markings to let guests know where to stand in the reception line to stay safe.
  • Remind guests to smile or wave instead of hugs, kisses and handshakes.

F. Hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and face masks

  • Wash your hands often and have hand sanitizer available.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands. Cough or sneeze into elbow or tissue.
  • A mask must be worn when indoors. Avoid adjusting your face mask.
  • Children under two, people with health issues, and people who are unable to put on a mask without assistance are exempted from wearing a mask. More information on mask exemptions can be found here.

G. Increase ventilation

  • Increase ventilation by opening windows and increasing air exchange settings on HVAC systems, if possible.
  • Ensure HVAC systems are properly maintained, and replace filters as appropriate.
  • Arrange furniture away from air vents and high airflow areas; direct fans upwards, away from people.

H. Modify services

  • Family or cultural traditions may need to be modified to protect the safety of participants.
  • Avoid close contact, sharing of ceremonial objects.
  • Distribute single use agenda or music sheets, so people do not have to share.
  • Avoid activities that encourages guests to congregate or share items.
Music

Singing and wind instruments can project respiratory droplets further than two metres and are higher risk activities. Congregational singing is strongly discouraged, even with masks. Singing and the live performance of brass or wind instruments is prohibited where food is served. Performances are limited to a 10 person audience. For more than 10 people they may be provided in a drive-in or drive-through format only.

  • Consider safer alternatives like playing recorded music, virtual performances, or string, keyboard and percussion instruments only.
  • If music is used as background ambience, keep the volume low so guests do not need to speak louder, or lean in to hear the conversation.
  • In-person vocalist or musicians need to physical distancing from each other and guests, and wear a mask between performances. It is also recommended they perform behind a barrier such as plexiglass.
Food and drink service

Receptions at a restaurant or banquet hall must comply with food premise regulations and COVID-19 guidelines. Currently, only outdoor patio dining is permitted at these establishments, with a maximum gathering limit of 25 people. Indoor dining is not permitted at this time. Guests are to stay seated except to leave or use the washroom. Guests cannot walk about to socialize and may remove masks only when eating.

  • Potluck, buffets, and self-serve food stations are not permitted. Family-style meals are not recommended.
  • Assign seating by family households.

I. Attendance list for contact tracing

  • Encourage your guests to download the COVID Alert app.
  • If a guest becomes ill during the service/reception, ask them to go home and self-isolate.
  • Keep an electronic list of your guests and staff in attendance. Information collected is voluntary, and can only be used by public health for COVID-19 contact tracing. The attendance list can be deleted after 30 days.

Download this information as a PDF.

Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials. This document will help guide the planning of your wedding to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

When planning your wedding, adhere to the current public health orders, with preference given to small outdoor events to minimize the risk. Work with your wedding vendors and/or wedding planner to ensure that you are making informed decisions and avoiding risks. Family or cultural expectations may need to be relaxed to protect the safety of participants.

COVID-19 is spread by respiratory droplets. Many of the COVID-19 cases are from in-person transmission, sometimes even before symptoms begin. To keep everyone safe, we need to keep the gathering size low, allow space for physical distancing and limit the length of time people are together.

Number Proximity Duration
Reduce gathering size for physical distancing & better ventilation. Maintain physical distancing & wear a mask to avoid respiratory droplets Limit the length of time people are together.

A. Stay informed

B. Communicate with your partner and service providers

  • Maintain open communication with your partner and wedding planning services.
  • Support each other and be flexible. Many businesses are impacted by the pandemic.
  • Create a backup plan with a few alternative dates.
  • Consider a virtual ceremony, outdoor ceremony, tented reception, a smaller indoor wedding, or delaying the event until public health measures are less restrictive.
  • Make adjustments to your wedding checklist to accommodate public health measures.
  • Shop online or by phone for venues, flowers, and other wedding necessities.

C. Limit the number of guests

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the government of Ontario has limited the number of people who can attend social events and gatherings. The new limits do not apply to religious service, rites and ceremonies. However, social gatherings that take place before or after a religious services, including wedding receptions, must adhere to the public gathering limits as described below.

  • Limit in-person attendance. Larger events can be scheduled after the pandemic.
  • Consider adding a virtual component to allow additional friends and family to participate. This may also benefit guests who cannot be there in person due to distance/ travel restrictions or are at higher risk for illness due to age and health conditions.
Type of event Gatherings for religious service, rite, or ceremonies Social gatherings before or after a religious service or ceremony (e.g. wedding reception)
Indoor 30% of room capacity or less 10 people or less
Outdoor 100 people or less 25 people or less
  • All gathering limits are subject to guests’ ability to maintain two metres/six feet physical distance from those they do not live with. Staff do not count towards gathering limits.
  • Indoor events cannot be combined with an outdoor event to increase gathering size.

D. Communicate with guests before the event

  • Use technology to keep guests informed, such as a wedding website or social media.
  • Inform your guests about the precautions you are taking to keep everyone safe. Ask attendees to bring their own mask and have extras if people forget to bring one.
  • Encourage guests to stay home if they are feeling unwell.
  • If hosting a virtual service, post instructions on how to access it online.
  • Ask guests to greet each other from a distance with a smile, wave, or send virtual hugs/wishes in lieu of physical hugs, kisses and handshakes.

E. Encourage physical distancing

  • Space seating two metres apart and arrange by household.
  • Post signs to remind guests to stay two metres/six feet from others they don’t live with.
  • Use floor markings to let guests know where to stand in the reception line to stay safe.
  • Remind guests to refrain from hugging, kissing and shaking hands.

F. Hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and face masks

  • Wash your hands often and have hand sanitizer available.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands. Cough or sneeze into elbow or tissue.
  • A mask must be worn at all times when indoors and when physical distancing is difficult, except when eating. Avoid adjusting your face mask when in use.
  • The couple may remove their masks during the wedding ceremony.
  • Masks may be removed by performers when behind a physical barrier (e.g. singing or playing wind/brass instrument), or engaging in physical activity (e.g. dancing).
  • Children under two years of age, people with health issues that make wearing a mask difficult, and those who are unable to put on a mask without assistance, are exempted from wearing a mask. More information on mask exemptions can be found here.

G. Increase ventilation

  • Increase ventilation by opening windows and increasing air exchange settings on HVAC systems, if possible.
  • Ensure HVAC systems are properly maintained, and replace filters as appropriate.
  • Arrange furniture away from air vents and high airflow areas; direct fans upwards, away from people.

H. Modify the wedding service and reception

  • Where appropriate, consider using outdoor spaces.
  • Avoid close contact or sharing of ceremonial objects or personal items.
  • Create an online registration book for guests.
  • Consider individual hand sanitizer and personalized masks as party favours or gift bags.
  • Limit close group photos to people in the same household or have guests wear a mask, even when outdoors.
  • Avoid activities that allow guests to congregate or share items (e.g. photo booths).
  • Consider limiting alcohol service to prevent guests from relaxing physical distancing measures.
  • Dancing among guests is not permitted. The couple’s dance, and father-daughter, mother-son dances are permitted.

I. Food and drink at the reception

Receptions at a restaurant or banquet hall must comply with food premise regulations and COVID-19 guidelines. Currently, only outdoor patio dining is permitted at these establishments, with maximum a gathering limit of 25 people. Indoor dining is not permitted at this time. Guests are to stay seated except to leave or use the washroom. Guests cannot walk about to socialize, and may only remove their mask when eating.

  • Potluck, buffets, and self-serve food stations are not permitted. Family-style meals are not recommended.
  • Assign seating by family households.

J. Singing, music and entertainment

Singing and musical wind instruments can project respiratory droplets further than two metres, and are higher risk activities. Dancing, singing and the live performance of brass or wind instruments are prohibited where food is served. Performances are limited to a 10 person audience. For more than 10 people they may be provided in a drive-in or drive-through format only.

  • Limit the number of singers/vocalists and wind/brass musicians. Consider safer alternatives like playing recorded music, virtual performances, or string, keyboard and percussion instruments.
  • Congregational singing is strongly discouraged, even with masks on.
  • In-person vocalist or musicians need to physical distancing from each other and guests and wear a mask between performances. Musicians who sing or play brass/wind instruments must perform behind a barrier such as plexiglass.
  • Performers and officiant should have their own microphone. Do not share microphones.
  • Keep music volume low, so the officiants, guests and staff do not need to speak loudly or lean closer to communicate.

K. Attendance list for contact tracing

  • Encourage your guests to download the COVID Alert app.
  • If a guest becomes ill during the service/reception, ask them to go home and self-isolate.
  • Keep an electronic list of your guests and staff in attendance. Information collected is voluntary, and can only be used by public health for COVID-19 contact tracing. The attendance list can be deleted after 30 days.

Download this information as a PDF.