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Guidance for Public Events and Social Gatherings

HNHU’s guidance is subject to change as new information is received. The COVID-19 situation can change rapidly and therefore it is the organizers responsibility to stay up to date on Ontario’s Emergency Orders.

Whether you are planning an event in a residential setting or business/facility, it is your responsibility to ensure all regulations established by the Government of Ontario are followed.

Who does this apply to?

Our guidance applies to public event organizers, staff, venue operators, social planners, attendees, and other event participants who are responsible for either planning or are taking part in a public event or social gathering involving a small or large group of people in the community.

Public Event

Public events are events that are open to the general public to attend such as i.e. Norfolk County Fair. The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit reviews and approves special event applications when food and/or beverages are provided to the public during these events.

Social Gathering

Social gatherings are events in residential settings where attendees are usually personally invited guests i.e. birthday parties, funeral and wedding receptions. In residential settings, Health Unit approval is not required if food/beverages are provided.

Public events and social gatherings are considered a high-risk activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. For this reason, the Government of Ontario has developed the Ontario Regulation 364/20: Rules for Areas in Stage 3 under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, S.O. 2020, c. 17.

All patrons involved directly in planning any kind of public event or social gathering must review the regulations to ensure compliance with the laws.

Guidance for Public Events and Social Gatherings in HN

What You Need to Know

 

COVID-19 has the potential to spread from person-to-person if physical distancing is not practiced within the 2 m. For this reason, the province has set restrictions where people congregate to maintain a physical distance from others outside your immediate household or social circles.

 

Currently, the Haldimand and Norfolk counties are in Stage 3 of the province’s re-opening framework. All high-risk settings for public events and social gatherings are listed in the Framework for Stage 3, Re-opening, which includes:

Settings Safe to open

  • All organized or spontaneous indoor and outdoor events and social gatherings (e.g., parties, fundraisers, fairs, wedding receptions, funeral receptions)
  • Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments
  • Concerts and live shows, including performing arts
  • Convention centres and other meeting or event spaces
  • Facilities for sports and recreational fitness activities (e.g., gyms, fitness studios)
  • Festivals
  • Recreational attractions, courses and instruction (e.g., fitness classes, music lessons, tutoring)
  • Movie theatres
  • Real estate open houses
  • Sporting and racing events
  • Tour and guide services (including boat tours)
  • All other social gatherings (e.g. parties, barbeques, fundraisers)

Settings Not-Safe to open

  • Amusement parks and water parks
  • Buffet-style food services
  • Dancing at restaurants and bars, other than by performers hired by the establishment following specific requirements
  • Overnight stays at camps for children
  • Private karaoke rooms
  • Prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports
  • Saunas, steam rooms, bath houses and oxygen bars
  • Table games at casinos and gaming establishments.
Ontario's Provincial Approach and Laws

 

It is legally required that any individual involved in organizing any public event or social gathering to take every precaution to protect the health and safety of the public from the possible transmission of the COVID-19 virus. The health unit is required to follow the regulations set out in the Reopening Ontario Act as established by the province of Ontario, which involves a stage-by-stage approach. There are 3 stages for re-opening with gathering limit restrictions that can change from time-to-time to limit the risk of the virus. As of September 19, 2020, the province of Ontario has the following gathering limits that are contingent on the daily COVID-19 cases.

 

TYPE OF EVENT

For all events, individuals who reside in the same household or are part of the same social circle do not have to maintain a 2 metre physical distance from each other.

LOCATION
RESIDENTIAL SETTING

Held at a home or residential setting including apartment buildings, condos, or student residences

BUSINESS OR FACILITY SETTING

Held at a business or facility where the property operator CAN ensure applicable rules applicable are followed*

 

Limits for special gatherings:

Wedding services, funeral services, religious ceremonies

INDOORS: 10 people (physical distancing recommended)

 

OUTDOORS: 25 people (physical distancing recommended)

INDOORS: Up to a maximum of 30% capacity of the room ensuring each person can maintain a 2 metre physical distance from individuals who are not from the same household or social circle.

 

OUTDOORS: Up to a maximum of 100 people ensuring each person can maintain a 2 metre physical distance from individuals who are not from the same household or social circle.

 

Limits for all other events:

Parties, functions, dinners, BBQ’s, funeral and wedding receptions, convention and hall meetings, recreational or performing art events etc.

 

INDOORS: 10 people (physical distancing recommended)

 

OUTDOORS: 25 people (physical distancing recommended)

INDOORS: Up to a maximum of 50 people ensuring each person would be able to maintain 2 metre physical distance.

 

OUTDOORS: Number of people that can maintain 2 metre physical distance up to a maximum of 100 people

 

*Gathering limits set out above would not apply to a rental of meeting or event space that is in compliance with a plan for the rental of space approved by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

 

Applicable rules for events or gathering held at a business or facility include but may not be limited to:

  • Rules and regulations surrounding gathering limits
  • Physical distancing requirements
  • All other public health officials’ recommendations, advice or instructions regarding physical distancing, cleaning or disinfecting.
  • Applicable mask use

 

ADDITIONAL GATHERING LIMITS AND EXPECTATIONS

  • Indoor events cannot be combined with outdoor events and vice versa to increase gathering size.
  • Every member of the public must be able to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres/six feet from those outside of their household or social circle.
  • Staff, performers and others providing service must maintain a physical distance of at least two metres/six feet from every other person, except:
    • If performers must be closer during rehearsals or performances
    • Where required to facilitate the purchase of admission, food or beverages; or
    • Where necessary for health and safety purposes.
  • Indoor religious services, rites or ceremonies, wedding ceremonies or funeral services are limited to up to 30% of the venue’s room capacity
    • Social gatherings associated with the above services (e.g. wedding reception) must comply with current provincial gathering limits, as above, and not the 30% capacity rule.
  • There is no maximum limit for Drive-in/Thru events. However, cars must be parked six feet from each other. Individuals cannot exit their vehicle unless using washroom or purchase of food or drink.
  • Staff and hired performers do not count towards the gathering limits.

Please note, all indoor special events/event facilities must follow the Government of Ontario’s Guidance for Professional Meeting and Event Facilities During COVID-19.

 

All events held in a facility or business should have an agreement between the event organizer and property operator with specified COVID-19 mitigation requirements to ensure that appropriate COVID-19 mitigation measures are in place and maintained throughout the event.

 

Gathering limits for events held in private residences are not permitted to exceed 25 attendees at an outdoor event or 10 attendees at an indoor event. This would include any event or gatherings held at a home or residential setting including functions, parties, dinners, gatherings, BBQs or wedding ceremonies or receptions, as outlined in the regulation.

Haldimand and Norfolk- Municipal Rules, Event Permits and Enforcement

 

If you are planning any kind of event in a residential setting or business/facility either indoors or outdoors, it is important to understand the gathering limits as per provincial regulations. There are specific rules and regulations for wedding services, drive-ins, and funeral receptions. For more information review the gathering limits chart above under “Ontario’s Provincial Approach and Laws”

 

All event permit requirements must be followed by patrons interested in hosting an event or gathering in their respective community.

For more information about the event permit and approval process visit the Haldimand or Norfolk  websites.

If your event doesn’t have any food or personal service settings vendors (e.g. tattoo artists), you don’t need to notify the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit.

Event organizers and operating venues must review and stay up to date with:

 

Please refer to the HNHU’s Infection Control Recommendations for Food Premises and Special Events when reopening for more information. All organizers and vendors are to complete the applicable applications below in addition to taking COVID-19 measures as required by the province, municipality and HNHU.

 

The “Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act 2020 Regulation 364/20” is the main legislation from the Government of Ontario in regards to rules for gatherings and workplaces/businesses. It is the responsibility of the event organizer to ensure all regulations and guidelines are followed throughout the event.  Issues with none compliance should be reported to the appropriate enforcement organization.

 

October 3rd, 2020, the Ontario government updated Regulation 364/20 with new, stricter mask regulations. Masks will now be mandatory throughout the province in all indoor public areas, on transit, and in workplaces where physical distancing isn’t possible. This applies to everyone over the age of two.

Laws for Drive-In, Drive-Thru, Sporting Events, and Religious Service, Rite or Ceremony

Drive-Thru and Drive-In Events

 

Businesses and organizations that would like to organize a drive thru (e.g. food, graduation) or drive in (e.g. religious service, performance, cinema) event are required to follow all public health recommendations (e.g. provincial, local health unit) and all applicable provincial regulations..

 

 

Some important things to consider:

 

  • Staff and volunteers should be screened prior to their arrival at the site, and should be advised to remain at home if they cannot pass the screening. For more information please  visit COVID-19 Workplace Screening Tool
  • Operators must have in place procedures for staff to ensure people remain in their cars that are closed to the elements except for purchasing admission, food or drinks, using the washroom or in an emergency
  • Each individual should maintain 2 metres physical distance from every individual who is not from the same household or social circle. The driver of the car must make sure that it is positioned at least two metres away from other cars. All performers and staff must remain at least 2 metres apart from cars and every other person except:
    • When it is necessary for performers to be closer to each other for the purposes of the performance
    • When necessary to sell admission, food or drinks
    • Where necessary for health and safety

 

  • Masks must be worn in indoor areas where members of the public are permitted and in areas where staff cannot maintain 2 metres physical distance.
  • Food preparation and service must comply with all applicable provincial food safety regulations. Food and/or drinks may only be sold to customers if:
    • It is sold at a food premise that requires customers to stand at least 2 metres apart while waiting to be served and requires customers to immediately return to their car after being served, or
    • It is delivered directly to the customer’s car

 

For more information please visit: Infection Control Recommendations for Food Premises when Reopening

  • Cashless payment options should be considered.
  • Businesses and organizations should create processes surrounding the transfer of food, drink or payments to ensure close contact with others is limited and any high touch surfaces are cleaned frequently. This could include having staff or volunteers transfer food on trays or leaving it on a table for the customer to pick up and wiping down all surfaces that were touched in between customers.
  • Materials my not be exchanged between persons in attendance except if;
    • The materials are exchanged between people in the same vehicle
    • The materials are exchanged between the patron and an employee and they are necessary for the purchase of admission, food or beverages.
  • In addition to other workplace and public health measures, drive-ins and drive-thru venues should:
    • Limit the number of vehicles and control how they are parked to ensure physical distancing between vehicles is maintained.
    • Ensure that any washrooms open for use are cleaned and disinfected as frequently as is necessary to maintain a sanitary environment.
  • Businesses and organizations should ensure all applicable infection control measures are followed. For more information please visit: https://hnhu.org/reopening-and-operating-business-safely-during-covid-19/

 

A special event permit may be necessary to host an event such as this. If so please visit the following site for information around the application process. Special Events. 

 

Sport or fitness Event

 

Businesses and organizations that would like to organize a sporting or fitness event are required to follow all applicable regulations. Applicable regulations include gathering limits, masking and physical distancing requirements, restrictions on physical contact while playing the sport and infection control practices.

 

Some important things to consider:

  • The Provincial Regulations, Rules for Areas in Stage 3, 364/20 outline how many players can play in a league and the restrictions around who they can play. Currently leagues are only permitted to allow 50 players in a league and prohibits those players from playing against teams in different leagues. Leagues can also divide its teams into groups of 50 players as long as each group is not permitted to play teams outside of their groups.
  • The Provincial Regulations, Rules for Areas in Stage 3, 364/20 also outline that team sports can only be played if they do not allow for physical contact between players or they have been modified to avoid physical contact between players.
  • Currently the Provincial Regulations, Rules for Areas in Stage 3, 364/20 restricts how many individuals can be at the event.

For sport and fitness events the maximum indoor limit is currently:

  • Up to 50 players for team sports OR
  • Up to 50 individuals who are participating in fitness activities, classes or organized programs or organized activities provided each person can maintain 2 metres physical distances at all times.
  • Up to a maximum of 50 spectators are allowed at indoor events provided all spectators can maintain 2 metres physical distance from every other person in the facility.

For sport or fitness events the maximum outdoor limit is currently:

  • Up to 50 players for team sports OR
  • Up to 100 individuals who are participating in fitness activities, classes or organized programs or organized activities provided each person can maintain 2 metres physical distances at all times. For more information please visit:
  • Up to 100 spectators are allowed provided all spectators can maintain 2 metres physical distance from every other person in the facility.
  • Each individual must maintain 2 metres physical distance from every individual who is not from the same household or social circle.
  • Masks must be worn in enclosed areas where members of the public are permitted and in areas where staff cannot maintain 2 metres physical distance. Masks may be removed to engage in an athletic or fitness activity.
  • Food preparation and service must comply with all applicable provincial food safety regulations. For more information please visit: [link to food safety doc for these types of organizations]
  • Businesses and organizations should ensure all applicable infection control measures are followed.
  • Staff, volunteers, participants and spectators should be screened prior to their arrival at the site, and should be advised to remain at home if they cannot pass the screening. For more information please visit.
  • Cashless payment options should be considered.
  • Organizations should consult their governing organizations and follow their recommended guidelines.

 

Special Event Applications

 

 

Religious Events (excluding the service, rite or ceremony)

When planning religious events, it is important to note the difference in the gathering limit for the religious service, rite or ceremony versus additional activities such as receptions (e.g. wedding reception, funeral reception), meals or performances.

 

Some important things to consider for religious events include:

  • Gathering limits for these types of events are limited to a maximum of 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. In both setting organizers must ensure each person has enough space to physical distance from all other people.
  • All performances at the event must follow regulations outlined in the Provincial Regulations, Rules for Areas in Stage 3, 364/20 regarding performing arts which outline that:
    • Singers and players of brass or wind instruments be separated from any spectators by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.
    • All performers must maintain 2 metres physical distance with all other people except if necessary for the performance, for the facilitating the purchase of admission, food or beverage, or for the purpose of health and safety.
  • Individuals must maintain 2 metres of physical distances from people who are not from the same household or social circle.
  • Masks must be worn in all enclosed areas where the public can access and in areas where employees cannot maintain 2 metres physical distances.
  • Businesses and organizations should ensure all applicable infection control measures are followed. For more information please visit Infection Control Recommendations for Religious Services, Rites or Ceremonies when Reopening
  • Food preparation and service must comply with all applicable provincial food safety regulations. For more information please visit: Infection Control Recommendations for Food Premises when Reopening

More info:

 

 

 

Step by Step Approach To Reduce The Risk Of COVID-19 Transmission

 

It is the responsibility of the organizers, venue operators, including permit holders to assess the risks associated with the event or gathering being planned to protect the health and safety of participants such as staff, volunteers, performers, and attendees. COVID-19 can spread through close contact with respiratory droplets (sneeze, cough, laugh, or sing), contaminated surfaces, and during gatherings when greeting someone (hug, kiss, or handshake) in close proximity.

Here are some measures that can be considered before, during, and after the event or gathering to reduce the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

 

Please note, all indoor special events/event facilities must follow the Government of Ontario’s Guidance for Professional Meeting and Event Facilities During COVID-19.

All events held in a facility or business should have an agreement between the event organizer and property operator with specified COVID-19 mitigation requirements to ensure that appropriate COVID-19 mitigation measures are in place and maintained throughout the event.

 

Gathering limits for events held in private residences are not permitted to exceed 25 attendees at an outdoor event or 10 attendees at an indoor event. This would include any event or gatherings held at a home or residential setting including functions, parties, dinners, BBQs or wedding ceremonies or receptions, as outlined in the regulation.

 

Before the Event

  • Review Provincial Stage 3 guidelines on gathering limits.
  • Review and prepare to apply mask requirements applicable to the jurisdiction where the event or gathering is to be held.
  • Read local Municipal rules for event permit approval process for Haldimand or Norfolk.
  • Understand the health and safety guidelines surrounding planning an event or gathering during COVID19.
  • Take every precaution to protect workers by complying with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
  • Develop a COVID-19 safety plan for your event or gathering, which can include the following:
    • Signage including but not limited to passive screening, hand hygiene, directional markers, physical distancing and occupancy limits
    • Screening
    • Contact Tracing – Attendee & Staff list
    • Physical Distancing
    • Face covering & mask requirements
    • Hygiene – hand washing
    • Rules and Policies for Staff and Attendees
    • Cleaning and Disinfection Standards
    • Ensure the venue or facility has proper;
      • Ventilation for air flow and fresh air exchange
      • Space to maintain occupancy limit(s)
      • Access to hand washing or sanitizing stations
      • Multiple entrance/exits for one-directional passage going in or out
      • Signage for compliance with rules
      • Waste receptacles lined with garbage bags
    • Vendor booths should be set-up to reduce customer contact with food items.
    • Develop a floor plan if necessary for attendees and limit staff assigned to an area of the venue.
    • Consider accessibility routes for individuals with disability
    • Physical barriers can also be used (i.e. plexiglass) to protect staff and attendees provided they meet Building and Fire Code requirements
    • Event operators should establish a plan, in collaboration with vendors, to enhance cleaning and disinfecting practices. Additional training for environmental cleaning practices may be required.
    • Operators’ should establish a plan, in collaboration with vendors, to ensure hand washing or sanitization materials are made available at vendor booths and throughout the space.
    • Prepare a communication for staff, volunteers, vendors, attendees prior to the event or gathering to share protocols and expected behaviours.
    • Encourage individuals to use the online Ontario Government self-assessment tool prior to attending.
    • Develop a cleaning and disinfection plan and assign staff with duties.
    • Designate staff to manage the entry and exit points as well as any line-ups to ensure physical distancing during the event.
    • Establish enforcement protocols for non-compliance by vendors and patrons.
    • Stay alert, recognize hazards and assess risks to mitigate response as they appear during the event.

 

During the Event

  • Use active screening for staff, vendors, attendees who enter the venue or facility.
  • Staff or volunteers should be present at entrance points to monitor entry and capacity levels.
  • Use a staggered arrival approach to avoid congestion.
  • Keep records including the names and contact information of everyone who is part of the event or gathering for potential contact tracing purposes. These records should be kept for at least one month following the event or gathering.
  • Follow the guidelines outlined by the Ministry of Health for COVID19 symptoms.
  • Ensure environmental cleaning for high exposure items (i.e. microphones) and touch surfaces takes place throughout the duration of the event.
  • Make frequent announcements to encourage attendees to maintain a physical distance of 2m at all times and avoid gathering in washrooms and outside the venue.
  • Refill sanitizer (70-90% alcohol and unscented) stations as required.
  • Discourage any activities that can spread COVID-19 through droplets in the air such as cheering, and dancing, etc.
  • Any performances that include singing or play of wind or brass instruments must follow all provincial regulations, including having singing or playing wind or brass instruments separated from all spectators by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.
  • Practice crowd control in high traffic areas where individuals are not 2 m apart.
  • Monitor all COVID-19 infection control measures to ensure your COVID-19 safety plan is being followed. Here are some examples of proposed measures:
    • Screening and record keeping
    • Hand hygiene
    • Enhanced cleaning and disinfection for frequently used/touched surfaces
    • Safe provision and handling of food as per health and safety protocols
    • Proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) by staff, vendors, attendees at all times
    • Physical Distancing
  • If a person feels ill during the event, isolate the individual in a designated area until they can go
  • If there is a situation with non-compliance, the event organizer is responsible for ensuring that all persons follow rules at the event. Where there is resistance, the organizer can reach out the OPP or the appropriate enforcement agency.

After the Event

  • Ensure safe departure of staff, vendors, and attendees using a staggered approach to avoid congestion.
  • Ask attendees to dispose of waste in receptacles.
  • Staff must wear gloves when removing garbage bags or handling and disposing of trash.
  • Staff should wash hands after removing gloves while cleaning the facility.
  • Request attendees to avoid gathering inside or outside in crowds.
  • Make announcement to maintain a 2 m distance during the departure.
  • If you become aware of an individual at the event or gathering who tests positive for COVID-19 call our COVID-19 hotline 519-426-6170 ext. 9999.
  • If there is a situation with non-compliance, the event organizer is responsible for ensuring that all persons follow rules at the event. Where there is resistance, the organizer can reach out the OPP or the appropriate enforcement agency.

 

In the event of an outbreak resulting from an event or gathering, public health officials will conduct contact tracing to manage exposed and potentially exposed individuals. Records of attendees including patrons, vendors, volunteers, contractors etc. will be requested by the public health unit.

The provincial regulations can found here.

Infection Control Recommendations For Public Events & Gatherings When Reopening

 

In review of the provincial guidelines, the HNHU further encourages the following general recommendations be applied by the public and food premise operators to prevent or mitigate COVID-19 infection. Please note, this is not an exhaustive list of requirements as each task requires its own assessment and plan to address infection control against communicable diseases and other hazards.

 

Infection Control Recommendations For Public Events & Gatherings When Reopening

Additional Resources

 

 

  • Provincial Guidelines for businesses:

https://www.ontario.ca/page/resources-prevent-covid-19-workplace