In April 2020, Pelham's Fire Chief, Bob Lymburner shows Mayor Marvin Junkin the likely timeline for a second and subsequent waves of COVID-19 infection over the following 12-18 months. DAVE BURKET

Effective immediately, Ontario limits size of unmonitored and private gatherings across entire province

The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Public Health Measures Table, is reducing limits on the number of people permitted to attend unmonitored and private social gatherings across the entire province. Earlier this week, the government imposed these restrictions in Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa.

These new limits are effective immediately.

The Ford government is pushing an amendment to existing legislation that would see organizers of gatherings that violate the new limits hit with a minimum fine of $10,000, and temporary closure of the venues where the offenses occur.

The details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford and Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott.

“Over the past several days, we have seen an alarming growth in the number of COVID-19 cases in the province,” said Ford through a Provincial statement released Saturday, September 19.

“Clearly, the numbers are heading in the wrong direction. That’s why we are taking decisive action to lower the size of unmonitored private social gatherings in every region of Ontario. We need everyone to follow the public health rules in order to prevent another province-wide lockdown, and protect all our citizens, especially the elderly and the vulnerable.”

Unmonitored and private social gatherings include functions, parties, dinners, gatherings, BBQs, or wedding receptions held in private residences, backyards, parks and other recreational areas.

The new limit on the number of people allowed to attend an unmonitored private social gathering across the province is:

  • 10 people at an indoor event or gathering (previous limit of 50); or
  • 25 people at an outdoor event or gathering (previous limit of 100)

The Province says that indoor and outdoor events and gatherings cannot be merged together. Gatherings of 35 (25 outdoors and 10 indoors) are not permitted.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott, speaking from Queens Park, March 28, 2020. SUPPLIED

Gatherings of 35 (25 outdoors and 10 indoors) are not permitted

“We are taking further action to slow the spread and limit new cases of COVID-19 by reducing the size of private social gatherings across Ontario. This action is based on the increasing case counts that we are seeing,” said Minister Elliott. “As we continue to closely monitor the spread of this virus, we will never hesitate to take further action to protect the health and well-being of all Ontarians.”

The new limits will not apply to events or gatherings held in staffed businesses and facilities, such as bars, restaurants, cinemas, convention centres, banquet halls, gyms, places of worship, recreational sporting or performing art events. Existing rules, including public health and workplace safety measures for these businesses and facilities, continue to be in effect.

“It is critical that we continue to take the necessary steps to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones via the Provincial statement.

“We are making it easier for communities to keep people safe through a broad array of tools and deterrents including stiffer penalties for organizing social gatherings at private residences that violate the applicable size restrictions.”

The Province reminds resident that it remains important to continue following public health advice. This includes:

  • Staying home when ill, or keeping your child home from school when ill, even with mild symptoms;
  • Practising physical distancing with those outside your household or social circle, or at gatherings;
  • Protecting your social circle;
  • Wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so;
  • Washing your hands frequently and thoroughly; and
  • Adhering to gathering limits and rules.

COVID-19 testing is available at any of the province’s 147 assessment centres currently open. To find your closest assessment centre, visit Ontario.ca/coronavirus.