Last updated: September 15, 2020 at 12:25 p.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 prepare for reopening while reducing 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[1]
  • Movie theatres/cinemas[2]
  • 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 – Stage 3 Orders, organized public events and gatherings are limited to a maximum of 50 members of the public/spectators indoors and 100 members of the public/spectators outdoors[3] with the following restrictions:

  • Indoor capacity 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.
  • The number of people permitted shall be limited so that every member of the public is able to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres/six feet from every other person outside their household or social circle.
  • All staff, performers, workers and others providing service for the event/gathering must maintain a physical distance of at least two metres/six feet from every other person, except:
    • if it is necessary for the performers to be closer to each other for the purposes of the performance or rehearsal;
    • where necessary to facilitate the purchase of admission, food or beverages; or
    • where necessary for the purposes of health and safety.
  • Singers and players of brass or wind instruments must be separated from any spectators by an impermeable barrier (e.g. plexiglass) in both indoor and outdoor venues.
  • The gathering limits and physical distancing requirements also apply to organized public events and social gatherings held within private dwellings.

Gathering limit exceptions[4]

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.

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 others, 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.
  • Guests should be restricted to staying within their event/meeting room and should be discouraged from mingling with other guests in other rooms/spaces whether part of the event or not.
  • Guests attending a multi-day event/meeting should remain with the same group/cohort for the duration of the entire event/meeting.
  • Consider placing workers at key points within a room and using some form of room identifier for each guest and dedicated worker (e.g. coloured wristband; convention lanyards).
  • 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).

Safely Use Partitions to Separate Guests

  • Use of partitions to divide large rooms is permitted for professional meeting and event facilities, including hotels, motels, convention centres, and banquet halls.
  • Use, to the extent possible, existing rooms to support operations.
  • If additional space is to be created, a partition can be placed to divide a large room into more than one distinct space to accommodate areas of up to 50 guests.
    • The height and width of the partition should reflect the room dimensions and have the ability to effectively physically separate groups. The height of the partition should be above the breathing zone of standing individuals to prevent the spread of droplets expired by guests.
    • The partition should be made of materials that are of a hard, non-porous surface that can be easily and routinely cleaned and disinfected (i.e., between uses). For optimal infection protection and control, there should be no physical contact with the partition.
    • Partitions must be secured appropriately, following fire and building code requirements to allow for evacuation of all individuals from a building in case of an emergency.

Modify and Arrange Site/Floor Plan

  • Design an attendee flow that encourages one-way movement with prominent signage and/or floor markings.
  • Specific washrooms should be designated for specific events/meetings where there is an ability to do so (i.e. avoid having people from different events be in the same washroom at the same time).
  • 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 10 people per table, and minimum two metres/six feet distance between individuals who are not members of the same household or social circle.
  • 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.
    • Some exceptions apply, including children under the age of two, and people with medical conditions that make wearing a mask difficult.
    • Masks may be removed by performers when behind a physical barrier (e.g. singing or playing a brass/wind instrument), or engaging in physical activity (e.g. dancing).
  • Business operators must develop a policy and protocol on the wearing of masks. More information is available here.
  • Masks or face coverings are strongly recommended outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Educate staff on the proper use and disposal of masks.

Food and Drink

  • Venues that serve food and drink must also comply with the regulations and guidance for restaurants, bars, etc.
  • 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.
  • Family-style meals are permitted if guests are seated only with members of their social circle.
  • Communal and self-serve food services (e.g. buffets, passing of hors-d’oeuvres, fountain machines) are not permitted at this time.

Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette

  • Download and post Wash your HandsCover your CoughProtect Yourself signs in high traffic areas.
  • Use of paper towels is the preferred method of drying hands.
  • Provide hand sanitizer dispensers (70-90% alcohol concentration) by entrances and throughout the venue for everyone to use.
  • Ensure an adequate supply of liquid soap, paper towel, hand sanitizer, tissues, and waste receptacles throughout the venue and in washrooms.

Conduct Health Screening

  • Consider pre-event/gathering communications to guests to share information on protocols and expected behaviours. Reinforce the message that people must not attend if they are ill.
  • Actively screen all individuals (staff, guests, event planners, security, suppliers, contractors etc.) entering the facility.
    • Temperature checks are not required or recommended.
  • Direct anyone who answers YES to any of the screening questions to go home immediately, self-isolate, and contact Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 or go to an assessment centre to get tested.
  • Staff who conduct screening should be behind a physical barrier (e.g., plexiglass) or stand at least two metres/six feet away from an individual. Where screening cannot occur behind a barrier or must involve contact with a person, at a minimum a surgical/ procedural mask and eye protection are required. Hand sanitizer, tissue, and a lined no-touch waste basket or bin should also be available.
  • Signageshould be posted on the entry doors and throughout the facility to prompt individuals to self-identify if they feel unwell or exhibit symptoms of COVID-19

COVID-19 Outbreaks and Contact Tracing

  • Develop protocols in advance that specifically address how to safely care for people who develop COVID-19 related symptoms, or who need care (e.g. injury, illness, emotional upset) while at the event/gathering.
  • Designate a space where people can be isolated from others if they develop symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 until they can go home safely in a private vehicle and/or undergo medical assessment.
  • Keep a list of names and contact information for all individuals who attend the event/gathering. Toronto Public Health will use this list to notify and provide instructions for close contacts to self-isolate or self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Contact Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600 for guidance if you have been notified that an employee, vendor, performer or attendee has tested positive, and/or you have concerns that others may have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 at the event/gathering.
  • 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 only be kept for 30 days, and then shredded.

Cleaning and Disinfection

  • Avoid opportunities for the virus to spread through touch, either directly or indirectly, on surfaces and objects.
  • Assign staff to complete environmental cleaning and disinfection duties.
  • Ensure frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces and objects in staff, vendor, performer and guest areas (e.g. doorknobs, tabletops, railings) at least twice a day and when visibly dirty.
  • Ensure washrooms and hand sinks are cleaned and disinfected at least twice a day, or as frequently as necessary to maintain a sanitary environment.
  • Minimise the use of linens so as to minimize exposure to contamination.
  • Provide waste receptacles lined with a plastic bag, and empty as often as necessary.
  • Increase ventilation with fresh air by increasing the outdoor air ratio of the HVAC system or by opening windows. Avoid recirculating air.
    • Minimize the use of fans.
    • Ceiling fans high up in the room (e.g. 25 feet up in a gym), are less of a concern than ceiling fans on low ceilings.
    • Pedestal fans or high-powered fans on/near the floor should not be used.

Workplace Health and Safety

  • Review the COVID-19 Guidance for Workplaces and Businesses to plan and implement protocols to keep staff safe.
  • Assign a site safety manager to ensure updated working protocols reflect good hygiene and safe working conditions.
  • Actively screen staff before each work shift and prior to participating in the event. Questions can be completed on paper, online, or by asking staff directly.
  • Implement attendance policies for staff, including maintaining a list of the names, contact information and attendance records for all staff, including performers and vendors.
  • Limit, where possible, the number of workers assigned to more than one event/meeting (or room of an event) simultaneously.
  • Train staff on all new policies and protocols related to COVID-19 practices, including physical distancing, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and the City of Toronto mask by-law.
  • Consider alternate approaches to rehearsals or performances that typically require close contact.
  • Where work requires the shared handling of goods and/or close contact, ensure proper mask/face covering and hygiene protocols are implemented.
  • Ensure dedicated use of high exposure items (e.g. microphones), and frequent disinfecting of high-touch equipment.

Communication

Other Resources

[1] See Provincial guidance for professional meeting and event facilities during COVID-19.

[2] See Provincial guidance for movie theatres during COVID-19.

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

[4] The capacity limits described in this guidance do not apply to places and/or events that are in compliance with plans approved by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. See Stage 3 reopening consultations for more details.


Events and Social Gatherings Quick Reference Guide

Outdoor Events

Event with no food or drinks Event with food or drinks Drive-in/drive-thru event
  • Maximum of 100 people.
  • Guests can mingle, and must maintain six feet distancing.
  • Wear a mask when physical distancing is difficult (e.g. going to the washrooms).
  • Maximum of 100 people.
  • No more than 10 people per table with six feet distancing if not from the same social circle.
  • Stay seated at all times, except to use the washroom or leave.
  • No mingling or dancing among guests.
  • No maximum.
  • Cars must be parked six feet from each other.
  • Can’t leave the car except for using the washroom or to purchase food or drink.

Indoor Events

Event with no food or drinks Event with food or drinks Religious service, rite or ceremony in a place of worship with no food or drink
  • Maximum of 50 people.
  • Guests can mingle, and must maintain six feet distancing.
  • A mask must be worn at all times.
  • No dancing among guests.
  • No more than 10 people per table with six feet distancing if not from the same social circle.
  • Stay seated at all times, except to use the washroom or leave.
  • No mingling or dancing among guests.
  • Up to 30% of the room capacity, based on ability to physically distance.
  • Limit the number of people in a choir.
  • Congregational singing is strongly discouraged, even with masks.

All Events

  • Physical distancing of two metres/six feet is required by all, unless from the same social circle.
  • Mask/face covering must be worn at all times indoors except when eating, and outdoors when physical distancing is challenging.
  • Staff and performers hired by the venue does not count towards gathering limits.
  • Hired performers who sing or play a brass/wind instrument must be separated from guests by a barrier.

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. When planning an event, consider the risks associated with indoor gatherings, as COVID-19 has spread in Ontario in these settings. Having the facts about COVID-19 will help you plan a safer gathering, for you and the people around you. This document will to help guide you and your family when planning a gathering to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

When planning an event, adhere to the current public health orders on gathering sizes, with preference given to outdoor events to minimize the risk. Having more guests, with closer interactions and longer time spent together, increases the risk of spreading COVID-19. If COVID-19 is spreading in the community that will increase the risk of spreading COVID-19 at a gathering.

Family or cultural expectations may need to be relaxed to protect the safety of participants.

Consider changing some rituals and practices:

  • Limit in-person attendance to a smaller number of immediate family and/or friends.
  • Consider hosting a memorial service virtually, or delay it for when public health measures are less restrictive, or when you can host it outdoors.
  • Host a virtual service or create a virtual memory book, blog, or webpage for family and friends to share memories, photos or messages of support.
  • Create aids to have attendees maintain a two metre/six foot distance from each other, facility staff, and officiants.
  • Seek guidance from a funeral director, if applicable.
  • If food is offered at a reception, serve individual plates. Avoid potluck, buffet or family-style meals. Do not share food or utensils.
  • In some cultures, bringing gifts and food is an expression of care. Keep a two metre/six foot distance when delivering food or gifts, or consider sending gift cards with contactless food delivery services.

Use technology to connect virtually to support the grieving process

  • Use phone or video chat to share stories, photos, offer support or a virtual hug.
  • Organize virtual events with family and friends for prayer, spiritual readings or sharing memories.
  • Ask family and friends to contribute their memories and stories virtually by emails, e-cards or on social media, or to sign the guest book on the funeral home

Consider health risks

Think of your family and friends who are older, unwell, or have health issues that make them more vulnerable to serious illness from COVID-19. Consider offering other ways for people to participate if they cannot be there in person.

Risks Size of Gathering/Location What to do at the gathering to prevent COVID-19
lower risk

higher risk

  • virtual activities and events
  • outdoor gatherings
  • indoor gatherings – small
  • indoor gatherings – large
  • gatherings with close contact (not physically distancing)
  • screen visitors for symptoms of COVID-19
  • clean hands often
  • provide hand sanitizer
  • allow space for physical distancing
  • limiting guests to maintain physical distance
  • wear a mask
  • host event in well-ventilated areas
  • avoid handshakes, hugs or kisses

Physical distancing is crucial to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. Masks can help lower the risk, especially when physical distancing is difficult.

Planning Checklist

A. Stay informed

  • Ask questions of the service providers you hire (e.g. ceremony and reception venues, florist, and food service vendor).
  • Check the City’s website for up to date information about COVID-19.

B. Limit attendance

  • Limit invitations based on the type of venue (i.e. indoor vs. outdoor).
  • Consider offering a virtual component to allow additional friends and family to participate, or those who are at higher risk (e.g. seniors, chronic health condition)
  • Receptions held at a restaurant or place that serves food must comply with COVID-19 regulations for food premises. This includes staying seated at all times except to enter, exit or go to the washroom.
  • Arrange seating by social circles. A social circle has a limit of 10 people. A person cannot belong to more than one social circle. A social circle can interact with each another without physical distancing.

Current gathering sizes for private and rented facilities based on the Reopening Ontario Act:

Outdoor events

Mask/face covering should be worn when physical distancing is challenging.

Staff and performers hired by the venue do not count towards the gathering size.

Event with no food or drinks Event with food or drinks Drive-in/drive-thru event
  • Maximum of 100 people.
  • Guests can mingle and must maintain 6 feet distancing.
  • Wear a mask when physical distancing is difficult (e.g. going to the washroom).
  • No dancing unless hiring a performer.
  • Singers and musicians must physical distance from each other and be separated from guests by plexiglass.
  • Maximum of 100 people.
  • No more than 10 people per table.
  • Stay seated at all times, except to use the washroom or leave.
  • No mingling. No dancing.
  • Performers (dance, sing, perform music) can be hired; must maintain precautions.
  • No maximum.
  • Cars must be parked, 6 feet from each other.
  • Can’t leave the car except for the washroom.
 Indoor events

Mask/face covering must be worn at all times except when eating.

Staff and performers hired by the venue do not count towards gathering size.

Event with no food or drinks Event with food or drinks Religious service, rite or ceremony in a place of worship, no food or drink
  • Maximum of 50 people.
  • Guests can mingle and must maintain 6 feet distancing.
  • A mask must be worn at all times.
  • No dancing unless hiring a performer.
  • Singers and musicians must physical distance from each other and be separated from guests by plexiglass.
  • Maximum of 50 people.
  • No more than 10 people per table.
  • Stay seated at all times, except to use the washroom or leave.
  • No mingling. No dancing.
  • Performers (dance, sing, perform music) can be hired; must maintain precautions.
  • Up to 30% of the room capacity, based on ability to physically distance.
  • No choir, singing, dancing or performers at this time.

C. Communicate before the event

  • Inform your guests about the measures you will be taking to keep everyone safe as well as what is expected of them at the ceremony and/or reception.
  • Consider an online RSVP system and promote through social media, newspaper obituary or the funeral home website.
  • If there is an option for a virtual service, post instructions on how to access it.
  • Ask guests to self-screen for symptoms of COVID-19 before they arrive. Encourage guests to stay home if they are feeling unwell. Offer a virtual option if they wish to participate.
  • Remind guests who have travelled outside of Canada that they must self-isolate for 14 days from the date of their return and should not attend in-person.
  • Ask attendees to refrain from hugging, kissing and shaking hands during the service or reception. This sets expectations so no one will feel awkward.
  • Ask attendees to bring their own mask/face covering. Have extras if people forget to bring one.

D. Encourage physical distancing

  • Space seating two metres/six feet apart for people not in the same social circle.
  • Post signs to remind guests to stay two metres/six feet from others not in their social circle.
  • Use floor markings to let guests know where to stand in the reception line to stay two metres/six feet apart.
  • Remind guests to refrain from hugging, kissing and shaking hands during the service or reception.

E. Hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and face masks

  • Wash your hands often. Post signs encouraging frequent handwashing.
  • Have hand sanitizer available at the entrance and in high traffic areas.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Post signs to encourage people to cough or sneeze into their elbow or tissue.
  • A mask must be worn at all times when indoors, except when eating. Toronto mask bylaw requires all public venues to develop a policy and protocol on the wearing of masks.
  • Avoid adjusting your face mask when in use.
  • 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.

F. Modifying services

  • Avoid close contact or sharing ceremonial objects or personal items among members of different households. Avoid activities that allow guests to congregate or share items.
  • Singing and the use of brass or wind instruments is discouraged as respiratory droplets can travel beyond two metres/six feet. If singing or wind instruments are use, performers should maintain a two metre/six foot distance from each other and from guests and must perform behind a physical barrier such as plexiglass.
  • If music is played, keep the volume low so the officiants do not need to speak loudly.
  • Where appropriate, consider using outdoor spaces.

G. Food at the reception

  • Potluck, buffets and self-serve food stations are not permitted.
  • Do not share items such as utensils, salt/pepper shakers, or water pitchers
  • Family-style meals are not recommended at this time.
  • Assign seating, keeping family households and social circles together.
  • Guests are to remain seated during food service, except to go to the washroom or to leave. Guests are not permitted to walk about to socialize.
  • Guests may remove their mask when eating, but should put their mask back on when going to the washroom or when leaving.

H. 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, and call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 or their health care provider for further direction.
  • 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. When planning a wedding during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to stay informed. Having the facts will help you plan a safer gathering, for you and the people around you. This is a summary of important considerations to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when planning and hosting a wedding celebration. Work with your wedding vendors and/or wedding planner to ensure that you are making informed decisions and avoiding risks.

Your event must adhere to the current public health orders on gathering limits, with preference given to outdoor events to minimize the risk. Having more guests, with closer interactions and longer time spent together, increases the risk of spreading COVID-19. Higher rates of community spread will also increase the risk of spreading COVID-19 at local events.

A. Staying informed

B. Communicating 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.
  • For in-person events, limit attendance.
  • Options to consider: a virtual ceremony, outdoor ceremony, tented reception, a smaller indoor wedding, or delaying the event until public health measures are less restrictive.
  • Family and cultural expectations may need to be relaxed to protect the safety of participants.
  • Some rituals and practices may also need to be modified.
  • Make adjustments to your wedding checklist to accommodate public health measures.
  • Go digital to shop for venues, flowers, and other wedding necessities, and to schedule appointments.

C. Selecting venues and limiting number of guests

The provincial government has set gathering limits, under the Reopening Ontario Act, to support physical distancing measures. The regulations apply to both private and rented facilities.

The number of guests permitted are based on the venue type:

  • outdoor gathering, up to 100 people
  • indoor gathering, up to 50 people, including receptions held at a restaurant
  • performers and staff do not count towards the gathering limits
  • religious services, rites and wedding ceremonies are limited to 30% of room capacity
  • indoor events cannot be combined with an outdoor event to increase gathering size
  • see table summary below for permitted limits by venue to assist with your planning.

All Events

Physical distancing is critical to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Hired performers who sing or play a brass/wind instrument must be separated from guests by a barrier.

Outdoor events

Mask should be worn when physical distancing is hard to maintain.

Outdoor event with no food or drinks Outdoor event with food or drinks Drive-in / drive thru event
  • Maximum of 100 people.
  • Guests can mingle and must maintain 6 feet distancing.
  • Wear a mask when physical distancing is difficult (e.g. going to the washroom).
  • No dancing unless by a performer.
  • Maximum of 100 people.
  • No more than 10 people per table.
  • Stay seated at all times, except to use the washroom or leave.
  • No mingling. No dancing.
  • No maximum.
  • Cars must be parked, 6 feet from each other.
  • Can’t leave the car except for the washroom. Wear a mask when going indoors to use the washroom.

Indoor events

Masks or face coverings must be worn at all times except when eating.

Indoor event with no food or drinks Indoor event with food or drinks Religious service, rite or ceremony in a place of worship with no food or drinks
  • Maximum of 50 people.
  • Guests can mingle and must maintain 6 feet distancing.
  • A mask must be worn at all times.
  • No dancing unless by a performer.
  • Maximum of 50 people.
  • No more than 10 people per table.
  • Stay seated at all times, except to use the washroom or leave.
  • No mingling. No dancing.
  • Up to 30% of the room capacity, based on ability to physically distance.
  • Limit the number of people in a choir.
  • Congregational singing is strongly discouraged.
  • 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.
  • For in-person events, arrange seating by social circles. A social circle has a limit of 10 people. A person cannot belong to more than one social circle. A social circle can interact with each another without physical distancing.

D. Communicating 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, and to help them prepare for the wedding ceremony and/or reception.
  • If hosting a virtual service, post instructions on how to access it online.
  • Ask guests to self-screen for symptoms of COVID-19 before they arrive. For guests who are self-isolating, for the reasons listed below, ask them to stay home and participate online:
    • returning from travels outside of Canada in the past 14 days;
    • feeling unwell, or have symptoms of COVID-19; or
    • have been in close contact with someone who is sick or has COVID-19.
  • Remind guests to bring their own mask or face covering. Plan to have some extra masks available as a backup.
  • 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. Prevention measures to keep everyone safe

  • Tape off or space seats to maintain a two metre/six feet distance for people not in the same social circle.
  • Use floor markers by the receiving line for guests to stand two metres/six feet apart.
  • Avoid touching face with unwashed hands.
  • Have hand sanitizer available by the entrance and in high traffic areas.
  • Ensure your venue(s) to post signs encouraging guests to practice safety measures:

F. Toronto mask bylaw

  • A mask must be worn at all times when indoors, 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. Modify the wedding service and reception

  • Where appropriate, consider using outdoor spaces.
  • Avoid close contact or sharing of ceremonial objects or personal items between members of different social circles.
  • Avoid activities that allow guests to congregate or share items (e.g. photo booths).
  • If hiring performers, they must maintain a two metre/six feet distance from each other and from guests, except if required for the performance.
  • Singer or players of brass/wind instruments must perform behind a barrier (e.g. plexiglass).
  • Performers or 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.
  • Create an online registration book for guests.
  • Consider individual hand sanitizer and personalized masks as party favours or gift bags.
  • Place gift bags at each seat for guests.
  • Photographers / videographers must a keep two metre/six foot distance from others and wear a mask.
  • Limit close group photos to people in the same social circle or have guests wear a mask, even when outdoors.
  • Consider limiting alcohol service to prevent guests from relaxing physical distancing measures.
  • Guests must remain seated at all times, including during the couple’s dances, performances and speeches.
  • The couple’s dance, and their parents (e.g. father-daughter, mother-son) are permitted.
  • Dancing among guests are not permitted.

H. Food at the reception

  • Potluck, buffets, and self-serve food stations are not permitted.
  • Do not share items such as utensils, salt/pepper shakers, water pitchers, or wine bottles.
  • Family-style meals are not recommended at this time.
  • Assign seating, keeping family households and social circles together.
  • Guests are to remain seated during food service, except to use the washroom or to leave. Guests are not permitted to walk around to socialize.
  • Guests may remove their mask when eating, but should put the mask back on when going to the washroom or when leaving.

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, and call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 or their health care provider for further direction.
  • 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.