Lower Social Gathering Limits Adopted to Help Stop the Spread of COVID-19
New rules would apply to three specific regions with higher rates of transmission
September 17, 2020
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With the recent increase in cases of COVID-19 in specific regions in the province, the Ontario government has amended order O. Reg 364/20: Rules for Areas in Stage 3, under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 to set new lower limits for unmonitored social gatherings and organized public events in those regions demonstrating the highest levels of community transmission.
Effective September 18, 2020 at 12:01am, the new maximum number of people permitted to attend unmonitored social gatherings and organized public events in the Ottawa, Peel and Toronto public health units will be reduced to 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors. Indoor and outdoor events and gatherings cannot be merged together. These are not accumulative and gatherings of 35 (25 outdoors and 10 indoors) are not permitted.
This includes functions, parties, dinners, gatherings, BBQs or wedding receptions held in private residences, backyards, parks and other recreational areas.
These new rules do not apply to ‘monitored’ social gatherings or organized public events held in staffed businesses and facilities such as cinemas, convention centres, banquet halls, or restaurants, and does not include recreational sporting or performing arts events. This is in recognition of the fact that these facilities and events are mandated to follow very specific public health and safety guidelines to minimize risk and limit any spread of COVID-19.
To support better compliance with public health guidelines, both within these three regions and across Ontario, amendments to the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act would, if passed, create:
- A new offence regarding hosting or organizing a gathering in residential premises or other prescribed premises that exceeds limits under an order.
- A minimum fine of $10,000 for organizers of these gatherings.
- Authority for the Lieutenant Governor in Council to prescribe additional types of premises for the purpose of the new offence.
- Authority for a police officer, special constable or First Nations constable to order the temporary closure of a premise where there are reasonable grounds to believe that any gathering exceeding the number of people allowed is taking place and require individuals to leave the premises.
Social gatherings can be made up of any group of people from outside a household or social circle, but physical distancing of at least two metres must be maintained or a face covering must be worn when physical distancing is a challenge or required.
People having a social gathering can’t hug or touch each other.
As the fight against COVID-19 continues, social circles remain the safest way for Ontarians to expand the number of people they can come in close contact with, without having to physical distance. To form a safe social circle, Ontarians should follow these five simple steps:
- Start with your current circle: the people you live with or who regularly come into your household.
- If your current circle is under 10 people, you can add members to your circle, including another household, family members or friends.
- Get agreement from everyone that they will join the circle.
- Keep your social circle safe. To protect it, maintain physical distancing with anyone outside of your circle.
- Be true to your social circle. No one should be part of more than one circle.
Everyone living in the same household is in a social circle. People in the same social circle do not have to physically distance and can hug and touch each other.
Public Health Advice
Whether in a social gathering or as part of a social ‘circle’ it remains critical for Ontarians to continue following public health advice to help stop the spread.
- Staying home when ill, or keeping your child home from school when ill, even with mild symptoms.
- Maintaining physical distancing with anyone outside of your (maximum 10 person) social circle.
- Protecting your social circle.
- Adhering to gathering limits and rules.
- Regular and thorough handwashing.
- Wearing a face covering indoors and outdoors where physical distancing is a challenge or required.
For additional protection, the Ontario government is encouraging everyone to download the new COVID Alert app on their smart phone from the Apple and Google Play app stores.
Today’s coronavirus news: Toronto, Peel, and Ottawa will have gatherings restricted to 10 indoors, 25 outdoors; TTC recalling 132 workers; Ontario reports 293 new cases