Ontario Government Changes Limits for Indoor and Outdoor Private Gatherings and Events

In light of the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, the Ontario government has announced its decision to reduce the gathering limits for indoor and outdoor private social gatherings and events happening in certain regions across Ontario.

The government’s decision will limit “unmonitored social gatherings and public events” to 10 people (for indoor events or gatherings) and to 25 people (for outdoor events or gatherings). These changes will only apply to OttawaToronto and the Peel Region for the time being, and will be effective as of September 18, 2020. In addition, attendees at private gatherings and events  will be required to follow physical distancing rules. 

As our readers will know, Stage 3 of the government’s Framework for Reopening our Province initially provided for gathering limits of up to 50 people for indoor gatherings and up to 100 people for outdoor gatherings. These changes were later codified under Regulation 364/20 (Rules for Areas in Stage 3), made under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020.

The new gathering limits (of up to 10 people indoors and up to 25 people outdoors) will only apply to private gatherings and events (such as parties, functions or barbecues taking place in private residences, backyards, parks,  and other recreational areas). The new limits will not apply to events and gatherings that are held in staffed businesses and facilities such as restaurants, banquet halls, cinemas, convention centres, gyms, or recreational sporting or performing arts events. In addition, private gatherings and events taking place outside Ottawa, Toronto and the Peel Region will continue to be governed by the existing restrictions (of up to 50 people indoors and up to 100 people outdoors). 

The Province will also amend the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 to create a new offence regarding hosting gatherings in residential premises (or other prescribed premises) that exceed limits under an order, and to include minimum fine of $10,000 for organizers of “illegal social gatherings” and a fine of $750 for attendees. The Act will also give the police the power to order the temporary closure of premises where there are reasonable grounds to believe that a gathering exceeding the prescribed limits is taking place.  

We will be sure to keep you up to date with the latest developments as these new changes come into effect.