Updated: Sep 15, 2020
Over the past few weeks we have hosted many events that required us to follow all of the province’s social distancing rules. We also fielded many, many calls asking about how to host an event and what is needed to keep friends and family safe during Phase Three. While the number of guests allowed to attend inside and outside events has increased, the strict protocols ensuring distancing and safety have not relaxed. The rules for events and gathering together in Ontario for Phase Three are as follows:
Indoor gatherings are limited to 50 people. Guests are allowed to mingle at indoor events where no food or drink is served, but must wear a mask at all times and remain 2m apart. If food and drinks are served, guests must stay seated at all times, with the exception of a washroom visit. Mingling is not permitted and a mask must be worn if entering or exiting the venue or heading to the washroom. Tables can have no more than 10 people provided they are from the same family or social bubble otherwise the 2m social distancing rule applies. Dancing is not permitted at any indoor events, however, performers can be hired as long as precautions are taken.
Outdoor gathering limits have a maximum of 100 people. If no food or drink is served guests can mingle, however they must remain 2m apart or wear a mask. If food and drinks are served guests must remain seated at all times with no mingling and no more than 10 people per table with 2m social distancing if not from same social circle. Dancing is not permitted at any outdoor gathering, however performers can be hired as long as precautions are taken.
When hosting an event, all organizers are subject to indoor or outdoor gathering limits and must ensure physical distancing rules can be maintained.
Serving staff, chefs, performers and crews do not count towards gathering limits.
People gathering indoors for religious services, wedding ceremonies or funeral services (with no food or drink served), can fill up to 30 per cent of room capacity based on the ability to physically distance. Masks must be worn at all times and choirs, singing, or dancers are not permitted.
Venues with multiple rooms (e.g. hotels, banquet halls, convention centres) can have up to 50 people per room if there are separate entrances/exits and washrooms for each of the rooms. .
So what does this all mean and how does it work?
First of all, we think the most important item to recognize is that just because there is a maximum number of people doesn’t mean you should invite that number to your event. Our rule of thumb during COVID-19 is to create an event that you are comfortable with and that your guests will enjoy. If that means having 50 people to an outside wedding reception then that is what you do. There is no pressure during these uncertain times to include everyone at your event. The other important factor is the venue itself for determining how many people you can and should invite. Whether it is your backyard, a patio, a tented area, a restaurant or an event hall you need to ensure that there is enough space to allow for guests to easily socially distance. Guests who are not family members or in the same social bubble are required to be two metres apart. That means your event space has to have enough room to seat your guests and maintain social distancing. We have been recommending smaller tables that perhaps seat 4 or 6 versus the traditional larger tables or long harvest tables. Regardless of the size of table, you need to ensure that all of the tables are well spaced throughout the room. The other factor when planning your event is to remember that buffets and self-serve food stations are no longer permitted. Guests must be seated if food and drink are served which means that there are no cocktail receptions with passed appetizers and drinks.
We have been very active in helping our clients with their gatherings giving extra thought and solid planning to the timing and flow of how their event will unfold as well as preparing their guests with what to expect. For all of our events during Phase Three, we have been using websites and emails to keep our clients' guests informed. All of the communication prepares guests for what to expect when attending the event, what has changed and informs them of the precautions that are being taken to keep everyone safe. For example, we remind guests to bring their own masks, however, we always like to set up sanitizing stations with hand wash and extra masks. Custom masks with initials or the event name is a great touch for the guests to use and take home with them.
There is no doubt that planning, hosting and even going to events this summer has been a challenge. COVID-19 has pushed the boundaries and forced all of us to adapt to the changing times and new rules. That being said, we firmly believe that gathering together and celebrating occasions or just having a few friends over to get caught up is still so important. As event planners and designers we also feel that just because times may be challenging, social gatherings should still be beautiful and special. Give us a call and together we can figure out how your gathering will work during Phase Three. We can help with venue selection, floor plans, an event schedule or assist you in transforming your backyard into the perfect gathering space. We can also add some design elements and special touches to your occasion that reflect your unique tastes. We love to talk celebrations and all parts that go into them … even those that now require masks and sanitizing stations!