Last updated: November 26, 2020 at 1:25 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 reduce the spread of COVID-19. This guidance is applicable to:

  • 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).

Toronto is currently in the grey-lockdown level of the provincial government’s COVID-19 Response Framework. This guidance document describes the requirements organized public events and gatherings must comply with under the Reopening Ontario Act.

Organizers, operators and permit-holders of events/gatherings, regardless of their purpose or 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 managing lines and crowds within and around the perimeter of the event space. Events that contravene these public health orders are subject to fines.

Provincial Orders (Reopening Ontario Act)

  • Indoor organized events and social gatherings are not permitted, except with members of the same household.
  • Outdoor gatherings are permitted with 10 people or less with physical distancing.
  • Religious ceremonies, rites and services can have up to 10 people indoors and 10 people outdoors.
  • Indoor and outdoor dining at food establishments is prohibited.
  • Meeting and event spaces are closed.
  • Meeting and event spaces may only be rented for the following purposes:
    • Day camp for children as described in the provincial order
    • Providing child care within the meaning of the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014
    • Delivering or supporting court services
    • Operations by or on behalf of the government
    • Delivering or supporting delivery of government services
    • Delivering or supporting mental health and substance use support services (e.g. Alcoholics Anonymous) as long as no more than 10 people are permitted to occupy the rented space.
  • Cinemas are closed.
  • Performing arts venues are closed to spectators.
    • Rehearsals or performing a recorded or broadcasted event is permitted.
    • Singers and players of brass or wind instruments must be separated from any other performers by plexiglass or other impermeable barrier.
    • Concerts, artistic events, theatrical performances and other performances may be provided if they are provided in a drive-in or drive-through

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:

  • Staff attendance and operations
    • Collect contact information of all staff, performers, essential visitors and other persons who provide work for the venue who enter an indoor area of the facility.
    • Meeting and event spaces must also collect contact information for all members of the public who attend a meeting or event.
    • Promote work from home wherever possible.
  • Health screening for staff and customers:
    • Health screening is required for 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.
  • Cleaning and disinfection:
    • Minimise the use of linens so as to minimize exposure to contamination.
  • Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
  • Managing COVID-19 in the workplace.

Safety plan

All businesses and workplaces must prepare and make available a safety plan. This safety plan must:

  • Be available no later than November 30, 2020.
  • 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 and wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • 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.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems

  • Ensure the HVAC system(s) are properly maintained.
  • Increase outdoor air-exchange by:
    • Maximizing the outdoor air ratio of the HVAC system settings, or
    • Opening windows and doors, if it is safe to do so
  • Use the highest efficiency filters that are compatible with the HVAC system, if provided.
  • Keep seating and activities away from air vents and areas with high airflow.
  • Do not obstruct HVAC inlets and outlets.
  • When using ceiling fans, use an upward airflow rotation.
  • If portable fans are used, position fan with an upward movement to avoid blowing of air across people and surfaces.
  • There is no evidence the use of portable air purifiers will prevent the spread of COVID-19. If used, follow the manufacturer’s directions to decide where best to place the device. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on maintenance.
  • For more information, review the COVID-19: Transmission, Aerosols and Ventilation fact sheet.

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. 82/20.
    • Some exceptions apply, including children under the age of two, and people with medical conditions that make wearing a mask difficult. Also, masks may be temporarily removed if a person is performing or rehearsing in a film or television production or in a concert, artistic event, theatrical performance or other performance.
  • Appropriate personal protective equipment that covers the eyes, nose and mouth must be worn if, while providing service in an indoor area, the person
    • is required to come within two metres/six feet of another person who is not wearing a mask or face covering; and
    • is not separated by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier from a person described above.
  • 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.

Physical Distancing

  • All people must maintain at least a two metre/six feet physical distance from others.
  • A maximum of four people are allowed per table.
  • 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.
    • Unregistered 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.

Food and Drink

  • Indoor and outdoor dining at food service establishments is currently not permitted.
  • Food may be sold or served as take-out, drive-through or delivery only.

Performances

  • 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 purposes of the performance or rehearsal that the performers or persons who provide work for the concert venue, theatre or cinema must be closer to each other, 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.
  • Concerts, artistic events, theatrical performances and other performances may be provided if they are provided in a drive-in or drive-through format, compliant with applicable orders.

Modify Programming

  • Consider virtual options (e.g. live streaming, pre-recorded shows, small acoustic concerts, solo performances, virtual reality and other digital experiences).
  • Limit or cancel activities where distances or other appropriate controls cannot be implemented.
  • 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 four people per table.
  • Close or restrict access to non-essential common areas (e.g. communal lounges).
  • Discourage activities that increase the risk of spreading COVID-19 (e.g. singing, cheering, dancing, playing wind instruments, hugging). Encourage alternative practices, such as humming, clapping, noisemakers, waving.

Modify and Arrange Site/Floor Plan

  • Design traffic 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 four people per table, and
    • At least two metre/six feet distance between individuals who are not members of the same household.
  • Ensure that guests can access their event/meeting area without wandering (i.e. entering other event/meeting rooms/areas). If possible, use a dedicated entrance/exit.
  • Identify areas where crowding and bottlenecks are common, such as lobbies or bathrooms. 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.

Manage Lines and Gatherings Within and Outside the Event

  • Use barriers/structures to enclose the event space/venue.
  • Designate entry and exit points. Manage these areas 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 to reduce congestion at entrances and exits 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.
  • Operators must ensure that guests waiting in line maintain a distance of two metres/six feet from others and wear a mask/face covering.
  • Discourage people from gathering and loitering outside the venue.
  • Assign staff to monitor lines and ensure guests stay 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.

Communication

  • Provide information to staff, performers and guests about event/venue operations (e.g. public health measures, available amenities).
  • Encourage staff and attendees to download the COVID Alert app so they can be notified directly if they have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.
  • Download information and display posters in high-visibility areas in your setting to promote messages about how to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Other Resources

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.


Download this information as a PDF.

In the midst of a global pandemic, there is still a need to mourn, and to support one another. However, with increasing cases of COVID-19, it is safer to consider a virtual service for friends and family and limit gathering to your immediate households.

Please adhere to the current public health orders. This summary checklist will assist you in planning for a safer event. Focus on safety rather than just meeting compliance. Consult with your funeral director and refer to the guidance for funeral homes & cemeteries for more information.

A. Connect virtually to support the grieving process

  • Be creative on how to support each other virtually.
  • Consider a virtual service for family and friends, and limit gathering to immediate household.
  • Create a virtual memory book, blog, or webpage for family and friends to share memories, photos and messages of support.
  • Organize virtual events for prayer, spiritual readings, etc.
  • Consider deferring in-person reception or celebration of life to a later date.

B. Stay informed

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

C. Limit attendance

  • If gatherings are necessary, keep services short and limit in-person attendance.
  • Include a virtual component to allow additional friends and family to participate.
  • Discourage people from gathering before and after the service.
  • Larger events can be scheduled after the pandemic.
  • Gathering limits are regulated by the provincial Reopening Ontario Act.
  • Gathering numbers below are based on everyone’s ability to maintain two metres/six feet physical distancing from those they do not live with.

 

For religious services, rites, or ceremonies Social gatherings
(e.g. before or after funeral)
Indoor 10 people or less Limited to household members and/or one or two essential support people.
Outdoor 10 people or less 10 people or less

 

D. Communicate before the event

  • Communicate online using social media, newspaper obituary or funeral home website.
  • Inform your guests about the public health measures in place to keep them safe.
  • Ask everyone to self-screen for symptoms of COVID-19 before arriving.
  • Encourage guests to stay home if they are feeling unwell. Post instructions on how to access the virtual service, so they can participate.
  • Encourage guests to download the COVID Alert app.

E. Encourage physical distancing

  • Arrange seating two metres apart and by households.
  • Use floor markings to let guests know where to stand in the reception line.
  • Remind guests to wave or ‘hand-to-heart’ gesture instead of hugs, kisses and handshakes.

F. Hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and face masks

  • Wash hands often and have 70-90% alcohol-based hand sanitizer by entrances and in high- traffic areas.
  • Avoid touching face with unwashed hands. Cough or sneeze into elbow or tissue.
  • A mask must be worn when indoors. Have extra masks for people who forgot to bring one.
  • For people who are unable to wear a mask, offer a virtual service to keep everyone safer.
  • If a guest becomes ill during the service/reception, ask them to go home and self-isolate.

G. Increase ventilation

  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems should be properly maintained, and filters replaced as required.
  • Increase ventilation by increasing air exchange settings on the HVAC, or open windows/doors.
  • If using fans, direct the fans upwards, away from people.
  • Arrange furniture away from air vents and high airflow areas.

I. Modify services

  • Family or cultural traditions may need to be adapted to keep everyone safe.
  • Avoid close contact, and sharing of ceremonial objects.
  • Print out the agenda or music sheets so people do not have to share.
  • Avoid activities that require guests to gather or share items.

Music

  • Congregational singing is strongly discouraged, even with masks.
  • Use pre-recorded music or virtual performances. Avoid vocalists and wind instruments.
  • Vocalist or musicians must perform behind a barrier such as plexiglass. Musicians should physical distance from each other and guests, and wear a mask when not performing.
  • If live or recorded music is used in the background, keep the volume low so guests do not need to speak louder, or lean closer to hear the conversation.

Food and Drink

Meeting and event spaces are closed. Indoor and outdoor dining at food establishments, such as restaurants, is not permitted.

Drive-in Services

  • Consider having a drive-in service where guests remain in their vehicles. Vehicles must remain two metres apart and can only contain members of the same household.

Download this information as a PDF.

Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials. This checklist 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. 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.

Closures

  • Banquet halls and event spaces are currently closed.
  • In-door and outdoor dining at restaurants and other food premises is not permitted.

Consider postponing your wedding to a later date, or plan a virtual celebration.

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. New limits are also recommended for religious service, rites and ceremonies. Wedding ceremonies and social gatherings that take place before or after the service must adhere to the public gathering limits as described below.

  • Limit in-person attendance. Larger events can be scheduled after the pandemic.
  • Consider having a drive-in ceremony where guests remain in their vehicles. Vehicles must remain two metres apart and can only contain members of the same household.
  • Consider adding a virtual component to allow 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.
Religious service, rite, or ceremony Wedding reception / social gatherings before or after religious service
Indoor 10 people or less Limited to members of your household and/or one or two essential support people.
Outdoor 10 people or less 10 people or less

 

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.

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. See suggestions on how to greet each other from a distance.

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. 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

  • Host virtual services and celebrations, where possible.
  • 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

Indoor and outdoor dining at a food establishment, including restaurants and banquet halls, is not permitted.

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.

  • Congregational singing is strongly discouraged, even with masks.
  • Use pre-recorded music or virtual performances. Avoid vocalists and wind instruments.
  • Vocalist or musicians must perform behind a barrier such as plexiglass. Musicians should physical distance from each other and guests, and wear a mask when not performing.
  • If live or recorded music is used, keep the volume low so the officiant, guests and staff do not need to speak louder, or lean closer to hear the conversation.
  • Performers and officiant should have their own microphone. Do not share microphones.

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.