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CIJA Update: New Ontario Government Regulations on Social Gatherings

Sep 30, 2020 | Policy Brief, Publications

On September 19th, the Government of Ontario announced changes to the rules governing social gatherings in the province.

Does this impact High Holiday Services?

No. The number of people allowed to gather for religious services or ceremonies is not changed by the new rules for social gatherings.

However, social gatherings associated with religious services or ceremonies (e.g. a l’chaim, kiddush or meal, social event) are subject to the new rules and must be limited to the new reduced numbers.

What are the province’s rules for an outdoor High Holiday service or ceremony?

    1.  No more than 100 people may be in attendance.
    2. All persons attending the gathering must comply with public health guidance on physical distancing.

What are the province’s rules for an indoor High Holiday service or ceremony?

    1. The number of persons occupying any room in the building or structure while attending the gathering must not exceed 30 per cent of the capacity of the particular room.
    2. All persons attending the gathering must comply with public health guidance on physical distancing.

What are the province’s new rules for a social gathering associated with a High Holiday service or ceremony in Ontario?

    • Indoor event or gathering: 10 people (previously 50)
    • Outdoor events or gathering: 25 people (previously 100)
    • Indoor and outdoor events cannot be merged together (i.e. a single event cannot have 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, for a total of 35 attendees)

Fines for violating these rules have increased to $10,000 for organizers and $750 for participants. These new rules do not apply to social gatherings held in staffed facilities (e.g. a synagogue). Additional details about the new rules are available here.

How can I minimize the risks of COVID-19 during the High Holidays?

For more information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, please consult the High Holiday Guidelines provided by the doctors at Kol HaCovid: the Toronto Jewish Community COVID-19 Task Force.

Where can I read the Province’s regulations?

The distinction between rules governing social gatherings and religious services or ceremonies is set out clearly in the amendment announced on September 17th:

(3) For greater certainty, the limits in clause (1) (c) and paragraph 3 of subsection (2) apply to a social gathering associated with a wedding, a funeral or a religious service, rite or ceremony, such as a wedding reception, while the limits that apply to the wedding, funeral or religious service, rite or ceremony itself are set out in sections 3 to 5.

You can read the regulations governing gatherings for religious services or ceremonies set out in sections 3 to 5 here.

Questions? 

Please send an email [email protected]

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