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Lower Limits for Unmonitored and Private Social Gatherings
Friday, September 18, 2020
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, setting a new limit reducing the number of people permitted to attend unmonitored social gatherings and organized public events in three regions experiencing higher rates of transmission of COVID-19. This includes functions, parties, dinners, gatherings, BBQs or wedding receptions held in private residences, backyards, parks and other recreational areas.
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the amended order will set a new limit on the number of people allowed to attend an unmonitored social gathering or organized public event in three specific regions to:
- 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).
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.
The new limits will only apply to persons within the boundaries of the following public health units:
- Ottawa Public Health;
- Peel Public Health; and
- Toronto Public Health
The new limits will not apply to events or gatherings held in staffed businesses and facilities, such as bars, restaurants, cinemas, convention centres or banquet halls, gyms, and 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.
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.