Be Social Wise - Guidance for Social Gatherings During COVID-19

 Last revised on September 16, 2021

New:

  1. COVID-19 Community Reporting Tool
  2. Effective July 16 at 12:01 am, the province moved to Step Three (3) of its roadmap to reopening.
  3. New web page: Public Health Orders and Instructions

On this page: 

Be social wise while we build community immunity  

Remember that until enough people are immunized against COVID-19, we still must follow social wise public health guidelines to protect ourselves and others. Even those who are fully vaccinated will need to:

  • W - Wear a mask or face covering where required or when you cannot maintain a physical distance of two metres (six feet).
  • - Isolate yourself from others when you are sick and get tested immediately if you have COVID-like symptoms.
  • S - Share your enthusiasm with friends and family about being fully vaccinated and encourage them to get vaccinated.
  • - Exercise proper hand hygiene; wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitizer especially before touching your face. 

 In addition to being Social Wise, you can reduce risk further by avoiding or reducing time spent in the 3 C’s:

  • Closed spaces
  • Crowded places
  • Close contact

Please note:  Effective July 16 at 12:01am, the province moved to Step 3 of its roadmap. 

Please refer to the most recent Ontario Regulations for current rules, regulations, and guidance. Permissions will vary depending on where the event or gathering will take place.

For more information on the current provincial restrictions, please visit the Ontario Ministry of Health.

Gathering are going to look and feel different during the COVID-19 pandemic. All individuals should assess their own level of risk and the health of every person in their household, when deciding how to celebrate. If anyone in your household is at higher risk from COVID-19, everyone should choose lower risk activities to keep them safe.  

In addition to older adults, people who have serious underlying medical conditions (such as: cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic lung disease, chronic liver disease, cancer, are immunocompromised) are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.  

Be in the know about COVID-19 levels in our community.  

Back to top

Special events toolkit

We appreciate the role that community events play in the overall health and well-being within our City. To support special event organizers, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) worked in partnership with the City of Ottawa’s Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development and Event Central departments to develop this Special Event Toolkit. In this toolkit, you will find key resources including signage, tools, information, and guidance documents that can support you in organizing and hosting Social Wise special events, subject to the direction from the Province of Ontario

It is important to note that although measures can be taken to ensure participation is as safe as possible, there will still be a risk for COVID-19 when attending an in-person event. In light of the continued transmission within our community, it is important to remind everyone involved that they have a role to play in reducing risks, that it is imperative that they know/understand the risks and choose safer options, and that remaining Social Wise when planning and choosing to participate in activities outside the home remains of the utmost importance.  

Ottawa Public Health works with the City of Ottawa’s Event Central office to provide event organizers with the tools, structure, environment, and processes to thrive. Visit this toolkit as well as the City’s Event Central webpage for details on hosting and organizing Social-Wise outdoor special events.   

Provincial and local requirements

Ottawa Public Health encourages all organizations to implement their own internal policies (that align with the Provincial and local regulations) for the protection of their staff, volunteers and guests attending the special event. Please consult the following requirements and recommendations and refer to them when developing your event proposal:

Follow the Provincial Regulations and public health requirements applicable to you when planning and hosting special events. They can be found in:  

If you require support or further information regarding the interpretation of the specific regulations for Step 3 in the provincial Roadmap to Reopen, please consult the regulations (O. Reg. 364/20), or with our colleagues in Bylaw and Regulatory Services for additional details by calling 3-1-1, option 8.   

Guidance, tools, and support for implementing the requirements

Ottawa Public Health has developed an Operational Guide for Special Events (pdf - 472 KB) where you can find information, tools and resources to help you implement Provincial and local requirements, including vaccination policies. The Guide also provides you with a list of additional public health measures that can help reduce the risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19.  

As part of the Provincial Requirements, all event organizers and workplaces are required to have a Safety Plan. To support event organizers in developing a comprehensive Safety Plan, OPH developed the Safety Plan Checklist for Special Events (pdf -300 KB) resource to help you make sure that your COVID-19 Safety Plan contains key elements to help protect workers, volunteers, clients, and the public. 

Event organizers are strongly encouraged to consult the Operational Guide for Special Events (pdf - 472 KB) and the Safety Plan Checklist for Special Events (pdf -300 KB) before organizing or hosting a Special Event.

Submitting event documentation

Event Central is available to assist special event organizers in determining what approvals are required for their event. If the event occurs outdoors and has an anticipated attendance of 500 participants or more at one time, a Special Event Application is required. Applications for special events must comply with current Provincial regulations and local health guidelines. 

No matter the size of your event, Event Central is available to liaise with event organizers on modified or smaller special events that do not meet the requirements of the Special Events on Public and Private Property By-law No. 2013-232, but do comply with updated provincial regulations. The Special Events Advisory Team, comprised of multiple City Departments including Ottawa Public Health, will be available to review event proposals, provide guidance, and issue permits or licences to support these activities if required. Visit Event Central’s webpage to learn more about planning outdoor special events in Ottawa. 

Food and drink safety

Event organizers must comply with the general public health measures, venue-specific regulations, and gathering limits outlined in Ontario Regulation 364/20. In addition, vendors engaged in onsite food/beverage preparation in temporary establishments (e.g. tents/booths) at special events must comply withO. Reg. 493/17: Food Premises; including, but not limited to: the provision of a handwashing station for food handlers which is adequately supplied with hot and cold running water, an enclosed waste collection tank, liquid soap in a dispenser and paper towels. 

All food vendors that attend a special event must complete and submit the Application Form for Food Service at a Special Event, to Ottawa Public Health at least two (2) weeks prior to the event. Once the completed application form has been received, it will be reviewed by a Public Health Inspector (PHI). If required, a PHI may contact you to discuss safe food practices specific to your temporary food premises. Visit the Ottawa Public Health website - Requirements for Food Vendors at Special Events - to familiarize yourself with the food safety  requirements of special events.

Party Safer
If you are an event organizer, volunteer, staff or are attending an upcoming event, we encourage you to party safer! Please visit The Link and Stop Overdose Ottawa
Key resources and signage

Required signage 

Staff and volunteer screening tools 

Customer screening tools: 

Operational Guidance  

Additional signage: 

Outdoor gatherings

While some restrictions remain in place, you can gather indoors and outdoors with members outside your household. Please refer to the most recent Ontario Regulations for current rules, regulations, and guidance. Permissions will vary depending on where the event or gathering will take place.

Outdoor activities are a safer option:  we can play in a park, enjoy the city's multi-use pathways, cool off in a splash pad.  Keep in mind, that you can still catch the virus outdoors and that the virus survives better when temperatures are colder and when there is less sunlight. Ottawa Public Health highly recommends wearing a mask for outdoor recreational activities that do not allow you to keep a two metre (six feet) distance from others.

Warmer weather 

When both temperature and humidity are high, it can be hard for our bodies to keep cool and not overheat.  Extreme heat events can cause heat-related illnesses and in some cases, even death. Learn about what you can do to protect yourself and others during hot weather.

Back to top 

Indoor gatherings

Please refer to the most recent Ontario Regulations for current rules, regulations, and guidance. Permissions will vary depending on where the event or gathering will take place.If you choose to host an indoor gathering, below are tips to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19:  

  • Remind your guests to follow the recommended practices for protecting themselves and others.
  • Wash your hands frequently. 
  • Wear a mask at all times if indoors with people from outside your household.
  • Stay two metres apart.
  • If you start to feel symptoms of COVID-19, and are hosting a gathering, cancel or postpone to a later date or until you have tested negative and you have not had any symptoms of COVID-19 for at least 24 hours.
  • If one of your guests has symptoms during or after your gathering, have the guest safely leave your gathering. Clean and disinfect all areas the guest may have come in contact with and inform everyone in attendance so they can monitor themselves for symptoms. Consult with an OPH authority for further advice.

Back to top

 How can I reduce the risks of COVID-19 transmission in indoor spaces? 
Exhaled breath, whether from breathing, speaking, singing, shouting, etc., contains a variety of sizes of particles, or respiratory droplets, many of which are big enough that they fall quickly to the ground, but some of which are small enough that they can stay in the air for various lengths of time.  

COVID-19 is primarily transmitted through direct contact into the mouth, nose, or eyes with the exhaled respiratory droplets of an infected person. While ventilation of indoor environments with fresh air provides an important additional layer of protection, the basis of reducing the risk of transmission while indoors continues to be following SOCIALWise principles:  

W – Wear a mask or face covering where required, or when you cannot maintain a physical distance of two metres (six feet), or any time you are in a room or other limited airspace with another person even if you are able to stay two metres apart.   

I – Isolate yourself when you have any symptoms and get tested.  Learn about testing: OttawaPublicHealth.ca/COVIDcentre  

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.  

Poor ventilation in indoor spaces is linked to increased transmission of respiratory infections, particularly if the airspace is small. Transmission of COVID-19 has been linked with enclosed spaces, including from people who are infected but are not showing any symptoms of illness. Along with using SOCIALWise measures, outlined above, ventilation with fresh air should be improved whenever possible, e.g., bringing in more fresh air through a properly maintained ventilation system or by opening windows and doors.   

Even when keeping a distance of two or more metres, people should wear a mask if spending time in an enclosed airspace with people not from their household. The longer you are exposed to someone else in an enclosed airspace, the higher your chances are of breathing in that person’s exhaled respiratory droplets. The safest approach is to wear a mask at all times when you are in the same room with someone not from your household.

How do heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems affect the transmission of COVID-19?
It is important to note that in the instances where poor ventilation was linked to increased transmission of COVID-19, the issue has usually been unbalanced or drafty HVAC air flow that carried the virus to other people in the same room, and not the HVAC system carrying the virus through ductwork to other rooms. At this time, there has been no convincing evidence that COVID-19 has been transmitted to people in other rooms using the same HVAC system. In fact, a well-maintained HVAC system may help reduce transmission of COVID-19 by exchanging indoor air, into which people have exhaled, with fresh outdoor air and by filtering recirculated air.   

Because of mechanical and structural complexity and cost, improved ventilation may need to be a longer-term goal, though adjustments to maximize air exchanges and filtration efficiency within the specifications of the existing HVAC system should be made as soon as possible.   

If possible, consult an HVAC professional to determine:  

  • If your HVAC system is operating properly  
  • If it can be adjusted to increase air exchange  
  • If it is using the most effective type of filters compatible with its system.  
  • If it is suitable for the size of your space and its intended use  

There are also quicker added interventions, such as portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration units but purchase and operating costs must be considered. Note, however, that within a single room, the air blown around by air conditioners or fans may increase the distance over which a virus can be transmitted. To help prevent blowing air from areas in which there may be virus into other areas and to reduce the concentration of virus particles in these areas:  

  • Minimize the use of air conditioners and fans blowing within the room (e.g., by using the lowest setting)
  • Direct airflow away from surfaces and people (e.g., use a fan by aiming it to exhaust air out a window)
  • Increase natural ventilation by opening windows if weather permits  

Please note that air conditioners and fans also require regular maintenance, such as:  

  • Surface cleaning, including the blades  
  • Removal of any moisture or water that has collected in portable air conditioners  
  • Filter changes  
  • Other maintenance activities found in manufacturers’ instructions  

Please note: Ventilation must never be considered the main or only means of risk reduction: masking, distancing, barriers, and hand hygiene have more immediate and reliable results.

Attending a gathering 

Please refer to the most recent Ontario Regulations for current rules, regulations, and guidance. Permissions will vary depending on where the event or gathering will take place.If you choose to attend a gathering, below are tips to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19:

  • If you plan on attending a gathering and start to feel symptoms of COVID-19, cancel. Get tested for COVID-19 and self-isolate.
  • Wear a mask at all times if indoors with people from outside your household.
  • Stay two metres (six feet) apart from those outside your household or your chosen social support person(s).
  • Wash your hands regularly and use hand sanitizer often.
  • When you go to the washroom, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer and make sure you don’t touch your face or your mouth with your hands.
  • Ask the host if they will be putting COVID-19 prevention measures in place. When in doubt, sit it out.
  • Remember that older adults and those who have chronic illnesses are at higher risk for severe illness or death from COVID-19.
  • If you have been exposed to COVID-19 and need to self-isolate or if you have any symptoms that could be from COVID-19, please do not put others at risk by visiting or hugging.

Back to top

Birthdays

All celebrations are going to look and feel different during the COVID-19 pandemic. When celebrating birthdays, please:

  • Please refer to the most recent Ontario Regulations for current rules, regulations, and guidance. Permissions will vary depending on where the event or gathering will take place.
  • Try creating new traditions:
    • Plan a fun outdoor activity like a scavenger hunt or a hike or bike ride.
    • Bake a little “candle cake”, separate from the big one for the person celebrating their special day, rather than blowing out candles on the cake that everyone will share or prepare individual cup cakes with a candle just on the one "candle cupcake".

Summer and fall season activities

Outdoor activities are good for both physical and mental health and usually carry a lower risk of COVID transmission than indoor activities. Lower the risk of COVID-19 with some of the alternatives below.  

Lower risk options:

  • Walking, running, roller-blading and cycling
  • Gardening and yardwork
  • Personal hobbies such as bird watching, stargazing, painting, nature journaling, and photography
  • Picnics, playing catch, kicking a soccer ball, throwing a football
  • Flying a kite
  • Sitting on a blanket, grass or lawn chair
  • Exercising and stretching on a yoga mat, but not in a class

Please note:  

Please refer to the most recent Ontario Regulations for current rules, regulations, and guidance. Permissions will vary depending on where the event or gathering will take place. Ottawa Public Health highly recommends wearing a mask for outdoor recreational activities that do not allow you to keep a two metre (six feet) distance from others.

Learn more on the guidelines for the use of City parks and check out the City of Ottawa's Summer Programs activities.

For more information on City programs and services, visit ottawa.ca or call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401). You can also connect with us through FacebookTwitter and Instagram

Please consider your own risk factors before participating in any outdoor group activity. For an older person or someone with chronic medical problems, the best decision may be to focus on individual activities, like walking. Ottawa Public Health recommends the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website to all persons wishing to better understand their personal risks for COVID-19 infection.

Useful Links:

Back to top

Garage Sales

Garage sales (yard sales) are permitted. If you are hosting a garage sale, follow these public health measures to keep you and others safe:

  • Follow capacity limits for outdoor gatherings by referring to the Reopening Ontario webpage.
  • Put up posters outlining health measures (wear masks, maintain physical distancing and encourage hand hygiene).
  • Restrict and manage traffic by asking people to wait nearby once the property reaches capacity.
  • Set up and manage directional traffic flow, to minimize crowding.
  • Set up sanitization stations so people can cleanse their hands before and after handling items.

Back to top

Shopping

Under the present provincial restrictions, modified measures are in place to allow for the safe operation of in-person shopping at retail stores. 

  • If shopping in person:
    • Plan ahead; go during non-peak hours.
    • Put your mask on before entering the store; sanitize your hands before handling your mask and after taking your mask off.
    • Answer screening questions about COVID-19 symptoms and exposure before coming into malls.  
    • Maintain a physical distance of two meters (six feet) from other shoppers and minimize the number of stores you visit.
    • Please be patient and kind.  

Back to top

Travel 

NEW:  Please check the Government of Canada’s new rules if you intend on  travelling outside of Canada . For information on travel between Ontario and other provinces, please visit the Government of Ontario website.

Here is some other travel-related information to consider:  

  • Monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and do not travel if you are sick.
  • If you are fully vaccinated you may qualify for the fully vaccinated traveller exemption, which means you could be exempt from quarantine and from the day-8 testing upon arrival in Canada. It is important that you review these exemptions prior to travelling, and upon returning home. Please continue to use the appropriate screening tools to determine whether you can enter a specific setting such as work, post-secondary institutions, school, or childcare.
  • If anyone in your household develops symptoms of COVID-19, that person needs to stay home, self-isolate and get tested. All other household members will also need to isolate until that individual has tested negative for COVID-19. If there are household contacts that are fully vaccinated, and they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms, they do not need to isolate while waiting for the symptomatic person's test results.
  • Remember that COVID-19 can have minimal or no symptoms and yet be transmissible to others. If you have been in close contact with others without physical distancing or wearing a mask in the two weeks before your visit, you could be putting your loved ones at risk.
  • Remember that older individuals, and those with chronic health conditions, may be more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 related complications.
  • The level of COVID-19 in both your community and your destination’s community, as well as any risks and travel restrictions.
  • For official global travel advisories, visit the Government of Canada. webpage.  
Back to top

Religious services, rites or ceremonies, including weddings and funerals 

The present provincial restrictions set out limits for religious services rites or ceremonies, including wedding and funeral services. Capacity limits vary by venue. Please consult the provincial capacity limits and restrictions for details on what may be permitted at your venue(s). Please note thatindividual venues may also choose to implement additional policies that go beyond minimum requirements to further reduce risks.

Before planning your wedding (or an event), please consult the safety measures that need to be followed by you and your guests.  

Back to top

Mental health 

Reach out to loved ones who may feel alone and show them you care. It’s ok to not be ok. Reach out for supportCheck out these tips and strategies on how to stay mentally healthy during the pandemic.

Back to top

Contact Information

Provincial Vaccine Information Line

  • 7 days a week, from 8 am to 8 pm
  • Call if you have questions about Ontario's COVID-19 vaccination program.
  • Service is available in multiple languages.
  • Telephone: 1-888-999-6488
  • TTY: 1-866-797-0007

Ottawa Public Health COVID-19 Telephone Line

  • Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 4:30 pm
  • Translation is available in multiple languages
  • Telephone: 613-580-6744 follow the prompts to the COVID-19 telephone line
  • TTY: 613-580-9656

Emergency Services

  • If you are in distress (e.g., significant trouble breathing, chest pain, fainting or have a significant worsening of any chronic disease symptoms), do not go to the Assessment Centre or a COVID-19 Care clinic. Go to the nearest Emergency Department or call 9-1-1.

See someone not respecting COVID-19 rules?

How to access help during COVID-19

  • 211 Ontario can help you find financial and social support during COVID-19
  • Telephone: 2-1-1

Related Information

Other Languages

Automated translation by Google

akhbaar somali kuqoran
المعلومات المكتوبة باللغة العربية
简体中文资料

 

Contact Us