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Infection Control Recommendations For Public Events & Gatherings When Reopening

Organizers and operators of public events or rental spaces must ensure they comply with all applicable regulations regarding their event or rental space.  As the organizer or operator it is your responsibility to ensure you remain up to date on all premise specific regulations as they may change based on regulatory requirements and Covid-19 reopening stage that the business is currently in, which may include:

  • Advice, recommendations, and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health regarding cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Requirements to actively or passively screen employees and members of the public.
  • Requirements of members of the public and employees regarding mask or face covering use.
  • Requirement for employees to wear personal protective equipment.
  • Capacity or gathering limits.
  • Requirement to physically distance.
  • Completion of a safety plan.
  • Limits to seating arrangements and dine-in options (e.g. separation of tables, number of people permitted to sit at a table)
  • Restrictions on music and dancing.
  • Requirements to record and maintain contact information.
  • Permitted hours of operation and the sale and consumption of liquor.

Please be advised, the HNHU is not responsible to address health and safety complaints issued by employees against their employers.  Employees and employers seeking further direction on occupational health and safety measures should consult the Ministry of Labour.


  • Requirements to actively or passively screen members of the public and employees are dependent on the Reopening Stage the area is currently in.
  • Passive screening involves posting signage at public and staff entrances to prompt anyone to not enter if they feel unwell, have symptoms of COVID-19, have traveled outside of Canada in the past 14 days, or been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • Active screening involves having an employee or representative either, asking the individual or verifying that the individual has responded to the appropriate screening questions and that the answers provided meet the requirements. This also includes ensuring any individual who does not pass the screening does not enter the premise or event.
  • All individuals, including children, should be screened. Consider taking temperature checks of persons entering.  Deny entry to any individual who does not pass the screening.
  • If you provide services in a high-risk setting (e.g. Long-term care home, congregate settings). Visitors should be actively screened.
  • Where reservations or other appointments are made, advice or screen callers indicating to not attend an appointment if ill.
  • Screening questions and requirements can be found online at:
Physical and Social Distancing


  • Place signage and markers to notify patrons of physical distancing requirements. Ensure physical distancing of at least 2 metres between all individuals not in the same household.
  • Occupancy and attendance limits must meet provincial requirements (i.e. Ontario Regulation 364/20). Small areas such as elevators should be considered.  Consider posting occupancy limits for rooms.
  • Establish different points of entry and exit from high-traffic areas, where feasible to do so.
  • Encourage individuals to avoid facing each other even if 2 metres apart.
  • Discourage handshakes, hugs and other methods of physical contact between persons who are not from the same family.
  • Arrange furniture and other items used by attendees and staff more than 2 metres apart. Mark seating to ensure physical distancing between individuals who are not members of the same household.
  • Assign staff to ensure attendees are maintaining safe physical distances in congested areas like entrances/exits, hallways, and washrooms.
  • Limit or reduce workspace occupancy through work from home, work schedules and break schedule adjustments where possible.
  • Encourage congregants to access the place of worship outside of peak hours if they are attending for purposes other than worship services.
  • Cohort individuals and families. For instance, organize attendance so the same individuals/families go to the same service each day/week to minimize mixing of different individuals/families (e.g. establish a system for congregants to RSVP to attend specific services or events)
  • Cohort staff (i.e. schedule shifts so only the same group of staff work together) where possible to limit the impact of potential workplace outbreak on continuity of operations.
  • Avoid carpooling. Where sharing vehicles is required, passengers should sit in back seats (if available).  Commuters should wear masks and open windows if possible.
Hand Washing and Sanitization


  • Position hand washing or hand sanitizer stations in public (e.g. at entrances) and staff areas. Caution should be taken to limit access to hand sanitizer by young children without supervision.
  • Post signage to encourage proper hand washing in washrooms and food-handling areas.
  • Have all employees and attendees wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water or hand sanitizer before entering the building or site and after contact with surfaces others have touched. Consider having greeters can be at the door to provide hand sanitizer to persons entering.
  • Ensure hand wash stations are adequately supplied at all times.
  • Gloves can be used for hygiene practices if worn properly but are not a substitute for hand washing. Incorrect glove use can lead to cross-contamination of surfaces. If staff or vendors choose to use gloves, they should
  • Gloves can be used for hygiene practices if worn properly but are not a substitute for hand washing. Incorrect glove use can lead to cross-contamination of surfaces. If staff or vendors choose to use gloves, they should practice proper hand washing before they put the gloves on, and after they take the gloves off. Please note, plastic, latex, and nitrile gloves are intended to be single-use only.
Enhanced Cleaning and Disinfection


  • In addition to standard protocols for routine cleaning and disinfection of all common areas (e.g. washrooms) and high-touch surface areas (i.e. doorknobs, counters, handrails, debit/credit card machines) encourage frequent disinfection during the event or gathering (i.e. at least twice daily).
  • Develop a schedule for increased, routine cleaning and disinfection as well as daily ‘complete’ cleaning.
  • Clean Your Hand Video
  • Putting on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Taking off Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Ensure staff are trained in proper use of cleaning and disinfection products (e.g. contact times, if PPE needs to be worn).
  • Surfaces should be immediately cleaned following spills or where someone displays respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough or sneeze) in the area.
  • Discard items that cannot be properly cleaned or disinfected (e.g. food items) after becoming contaminated.
  • Ensure washrooms are cleaned at least twice a day and when visibly soiled during routine inspections.
  • Change tables should be cleaned and disinfected after every use. Signage should be posted providing instructions for attendees on how to clean and disinfect products (e.g. wipes). Otherwise instructions should include customers notifying staff immediately after use.
  • Disinfectants used in public settings should have a DIN and virucidal claim.
  • Wash, rinse, disinfect, and then sanitize food contact surfaces, food preparation surfaces, and food preparation equipment.
  • Ensure that cleaning or disinfecting product residues are not left on table surfaces. Residues could cause allergic reactions or cause someone to ingest the chemicals.
  • Ensure safe and correct use and storage of disinfectants to avoid food contamination and harm to employees and other individuals. This includes storing products securely away from children.
  • Use gloves when removing garbage bags or handling and disposing of trash. Wash hands after removing gloves.
Ensure food safety


  • Venues that serve food and drink must also comply with the regulations and guidance for restaurants and bars.
  • Where food and drink is served, patrons must remain seated except to use the washroom, entering and exiting the area or for the purposes of health and safety.
  • Prepared food items should be packaged (wrapped or bagged) or served in individual portions as much as possible. Items that are not wrapped (such as produce, single-serve bakery items, etc.) must be stored in a manner that protects them from contamination.
  • No self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets, salad bars, and drink stations is permitted. Similarly, the use of food and beverage utensils and containers brought in by customers should be avoided.
  • Use disposable food service items (e.g., utensils, dishes, napkins, tablecloths). If disposable items are not feasible or desirable, ensure that all non-disposable food service items are handled with gloves and washed with dish soap and hot water, or in a dishwasher. Employees should wash their hands after removing their gloves or after handling used food service items.
  • Do not offer shared food items such as condiment trays, bottled condiments, or prepackaged items left out for attendees to handle (e.g. sugar packets).
  • Vendors should select food items for patrons and then place them on a table for patrons to pick the items up. This method of service permits physical distancing between customers and vendors.
  • ’Touchless’ serving practices should be implemented (e.g. food/drink left on table/counter for the patron to pick up, equipment used to serve food/drink where there is no direct contact between server and patron).
  • Persons serving food should perform hand hygiene immediately before serving and wear a mask for the duration of the time period serving food.
  • Tables should not be set with utensils, dishes, and other foodservice items until the attendees are present.
  • Party size or number of people permitted at a table varies based on the current stage of reopening that the jurisdiction is in.
  • Hours that the premise can offer dine-in service vary depending on what stage the jurisdiction is currently in.
  • Hours that a premise can sell or service liquor, as well as hours that liquor can be consumed on the premise, varies based on what stage the jurisdiction is currently in.
Shared Items


  • Discourage sharing of items that are difficult to clean, sanitize, or disinfect.
  • Do not hand out or share items that cannot be cleaned and sanitized before and after each use.
  • Consider using projection or audio-visual systems to share information.
  • Do not share microphones unless cleaned and disinfected between users.
  • Do not offer shared food items such as condiment trays, bottled condiments or prepackaged items left out for attendees to handle (e.g. sugar packets).
  • Limit any sharing of food, tools, equipment, or supplies by staff members.
  • Ensure adequate supplies to minimize sharing of high-touch materials (e.g., serving spoons) to the extent possible; otherwise, limit use of supplies and equipment by one group of workers at a time and clean and disinfect between use.
  • Use touchless payment options as much as possible, if available. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as pens, counters, or hard surfaces between use and encourage attendees to use their own pens.
Performing Arts

  • If outside entertainment is secured for the event or gathering ensure that all persons (i.e. performers) adhere to the provincial requirements outlined in the Ontario Regulation 364/20 related to performing arts.
  • The volume of music (live or recorded) is regulated based on the stage the jurisdiction is currently in.
  • Dancing cannot occur at any event food is served or sold.
Provide personal protective equipment and physical barriers where applicable


  • All individuals must wear a mask or a face covering inside any workplace or public place that member of the public has access to.
  • Masks and face coverings are required to be worn by employees in any enclosed space that members of the public do not have access to where 2 metres of physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Staff is required to also wear eye protection any time they are within 2 metres of an individual who is not wearing a mask.
  • Where persons cannot maintain physical distancing, consider installing barriers (e.g. plexiglass in kitchens and at cash registers, host stands, or food pickup areas).
  • Appropriate PPE should be determined based on the task being completed.
  • Ensure staff are trained on how to wear a mask properly (i.e. put on and off
Provide alternative service delivery where possible

  • Hold events outdoors instead of indoors when possible.
  • Online or telephone ordering is encouraged so that customer orders are ready for pick-up at the time of their visit. This helps to minimize the amount of time patrons are spending in the area and supports the safe flow of people physically distancing.
  • Consider using drive-thru food pick-up events consistent with the practices and principles of typical food premises drive-thru/curbside pick-up as they can reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
  • Discourage activities that can contribute to the spread of COVID-19, such as singing, cheering, dancing, playing wind instruments, and hugging.
  • Discourage or restrict non-essential activities in common areas such as photo booths with props, merchandise kiosks, concession stands, and communal lounges.
  • Protect vulnerable individuals such as those over 70, those who are immuno-compromised, or those who many have secondary medical conditions, etc. To support this, organizers may:
  • Recommend vulnerable individuals take part in virtual or drive-in services; and
  • Offer a dedicated service time for them.
  • Prioritize outdoor seating as much as possible.
  • Stagger and limit service and/or meal times to minimize the number of attendees.
  • Provide services on-line or other methods (e.g. drive-in limiting interactions amongst people.
  • Consider extending business hours if it reduces surges in attendance.
  • Offer options for vulnerable employees at higher risk for severe illness (including older adults and people of all ages with certain underlying medical conditions) that limits their exposure risk (e.g., modified job responsibilities such as managing inventory rather than working as a cashier, or managing administrative needs through telework).
Get your water system ready after a prolonged facility shutdown

  • For those on a municipal or communal water supply, flush your water lines by opening all faucets for 10-15 minutes and the water runs clear.
  • For Small Drinking Water System Operators, follow regulatory requirements (O. Reg. 319/08).
  • Mobile food premise operators (e.g. food trucks) are to ensure their water supply is safe and from an approved source. Holding tanks should be shock chlorinated and flushed prior to use. Routine monitoring of the water supply (e.g. checking for free available chlorine residual) should be conducted during operation.
Increase ventilation

  • Where possible, increase the ventilation system’s air intake or open doors and windows. Avoid central re-circulation where possible. Change HVAC system filters regularly.
  • Similarly, open windows when in vehicles with others where possible.
Contact Tracing

  • Contact information is required to be collected for individuals who dine at the premises (both indoors and outdoors). This information shall be kept for a period of one month and only be disclosed to a medical officer of health or an inspector under the Health Protection and Promotion Act on request.
  • Requirements to collect contact information from each individual or from one member of the party are dependent on the stage the jurisdiction is currently in.
Keep staff up-to-date on the evolving situation and applicable health and safety issues

  • Ensure staff know how to report an illness in a timely manner and take action to protect themselves and others when at work.
  • Review signs, symptoms and avenues of transmission of COVID-19
  • Ensure staff know when and how to self-isolate should it be required
  • Consider having a point person for each shift that can address COVID-19 concerns.


As with all workplaces, the Occupational Health and Safety Act must be applied.  Safety is everyone’s responsibility under the act and thus all staff should assess and plan to address their tasks with infection control in mind.  Application of R.A.C.E. is recommended:

Rrecognize the hazard

Aassess the risk associated with the hazard

Ccontrol the risk associated with the hazard (e.g. Hierarchy of Controls)

Eevaluate the controls

Please be advised, the HNHU is not responsible to address health and safety complaints issued by employees against their employers.  Employees and employers seeking further direction on occupational health and safety measures should consult the Ministry of Labour.