What you need to know about social gatherings in October
October 2, 2020 Feature Stories
We are at a critical point in the COVID-19 pandemic.
To respond to the rising number of positive COVID-19 cases, the Province of Ontario and Ottawa Public Health recommend that you limit close physical contact to people within your household. For those who are living alone, it is recommended that they consider having close contact with one additional household.
The Province has also reduced limits on the number of people allowed to attend private social gatherings, and these limits could change at any time.
With this in mind, if you still plan to have a gathering, here are the answers to some key questions.
Should I host or attend a social gathering?
If you want our honest answer, it is no. For the sake of our community in this vulnerable time, we are asking residents to avoid social gatherings. We're in the middle of a significant surge of COVID-19 spread in our community and positive cases are rising fast, as well as hospitalizations. Until that changes, public health officials are asking that you limit your close contacts.
Both the Province of Ontario and Ottawa Public Health are asking you to limit your contacts to your household. Having said that, we know that mental health is also very important. This is why it is suggested that individuals who live alone may want to consider having close contact with another household to allow for important social contact.
But how many people can I legally have at a gathering at my home?
- Indoors: 10 people
- Outdoors: 25 people
However, to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in Ottawa in this critical time, we ask that you not gather with anyone outside your household, except for one or two essential social supports.
Do I have to cancel a party, like a wedding, or community Halloween party at banquet halls or restaurants?
The most recent provincial regulations only allow 50 people in meeting and event facilities, as long as physical distancing can be maintained, and a maximum limit of six people per table.
Bars and restaurants may allow up to 100 people, as long as physical distancing can be maintained. They also have a maximum limit of six people per table – ideally made up of people from the same household.
But if the event is not critical, we are asking you to reconsider for the sake of the health of our community. Big events can be “super-spreaders.” If someone who attends your event tests positive for COVID-19 , this results in Ottawa Public Health having to track down every single person at the event to have them isolate and in many cases, get tested. Even worse, it could put the health of your guests and their families at risk.
Why are the rules for these places different from the rules for my home or backyard?
These facilities and events are required to follow very specific public health and safety guidelines that limit the spread of COVID-19:
- Patrons are seated at least two metres apart or separated by plexiglass or other impermeable barriers.
- Patrons must be seated when eating or drinking.
- All establishments must stop selling alcohol by 11 pm.
- Consumption of alcohol is prohibited between midnight and 9 am.
- All restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other food and drink establishments must close by midnight and remain closed until 5 am.
- Buffet-style service is prohibited.
- All individuals entering the premises must first be screened for COVID-19.
There are even more regulations in place for bars, clubs and restaurants where there is dancing and other entertainment.
What if I rent a hall at a City of Ottawa facility – like a community centre?
The City facility, like a community centre, is subject to the same guidelines as a banquet hall or other staffed facility. At such a facility, you are permitted to have 50 people indoors, as long as there is space to maintain a two-metre distance and everyone wears a mask.
Can I have a Thanksgiving gathering?
Even in these difficult times, we do have much to be thankful for. So, yes, please celebrate Thanksgiving this year,but consider making it look different from past years.
Instead of a large family dinner, enjoy an outdoor hike with your loved ones or consider hosting a virtual holiday gathering this year. Set up a phone, tablet or laptop around the dinner table to connect with those outside your household and/or small consistent social group.
Again, Ottawa Public Health recommends that we limit our close contacts to just the people in our household and one or two essential supports.
Please make sure your gathering is COVIDWise. This means:
- W – Wear a mask or face covering where required(link is external), or when you cannot maintain a physical distance of two metres (six feet).
- I – Isolate yourself from others when you are sick, and get tested promptly if you have COVID-like symptoms(link is external).
- S – Stay two metres (six feet) apart from those outside your household.
- E – Exercise proper hand hygiene; wash your hands regularly or use sanitizer, especially before touching your face.
Check out Ottawa Public Health’s new Be Social Wise (link is external)web page for more tips on how to celebrate safely.
What if I see a neighbour or business breaking the rules? How do I make a complaint?
Don’t approach the business or homeowner yourself. If you believe public health is at risk, call 3-1-1 to file a report. Reports cannot be made online or via social media.
When you call 3-1-1, the phone agent will ask for your contact information so the By-law officer can call you with questions. You cannot make an anonymous report. Your personal information is kept confidential, unless you are asked to testify in court.
Overall, let’s be patient, considerate and understanding. These are difficult times, but we’re all in this together.
What are the recommendations for going out to eat?
When going to dine-in restaurants, Ottawa Public Health recommends limiting your table to people within your household.
What can I do? Do my individual actions really matter?
Individual actions matter more than ever. Preventing the spread of COVID is within all our power – it is the collective actions of every individual that will make a real difference. Prevention is our best tool in the fight against this virus. The actions of 1,000,000 Ottawa residents...one million good decisions is what will stop the virus.
Things keep changing. How do I stay up to date?
We learn more about the COVID-19 pandemic every day. When the Government of Canada or the Province of Ontario change a recommendation or a regulation, the City of Ottawa and Ottawa Public Health have to follow suit. Keep track of the latest updates: