Ontario scales back social gathering limits across province

Premier Doug Ford addresses the media on September 19, 2020

The province is reducing the number of people permitted to attend unmonitored and private social gatherings across Ontario in response to climbing COVID-19 numbers.

Effective immediately, the limit will now be set to 10 people for indoor gatherings and 25 people for outdoor gatherings for the next 28 days.

Previously, a maximum of 50 people were permitted for indoor events and 100 for outdoors.

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

Premier Doug Ford made the announcement in a rare Saturday update as the province reported 407 new cases of the virus.

“The alarm bells are ringing,” said Ford. “Too much of it is being tied to people who are not following the rules, people who think it’s okay to hold parties, to carry on as if things are back to normal. They aren’t.”

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.

Additionally, indoor and outdoor events and gatherings cannot be merged together.

According to Ford, the decision was made based on the advice of the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and Ontario’s public health team.

“Clearly, the numbers are heading in the wrong direction,” he said. “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 provincewide lockdown, and protect all our citizens, especially the elderly and the vulnerable.”