gathering limit ontario

Ontario just drastically expanded the limit on social gatherings

It's looking more and more as if life will soon get back to normal in Ontario as COVID-19 case numbers plummet, government restrictions lift, and the amount of people permitted to gather at one time swells from 10 to 100.

Don't go planning any post-pandemic ragers just yet, though: Gathering limits will only go up in Toronto when we hit Stage 3 of the provincial government's phased reopening plan, details of which were unveiled by Premier Doug Ford this afternoon.

While 24 of Ontario's 34 public health regions will enter Stage 3 this Friday, July 17, Toronto isn't one of them (nor are York, Peel, Durham Region, Niagara, Windsor-Essex, Haldimand-Norfolk, Halton, Hamilton or Lambton.)

Furthermore, the 100-person gathering limit applies to outdoor events only. Indoor gathering limits in Stage 3 regions will increase to a maximum of 50 people.

"Public gathering limits apply to indoor and outdoor events, such as community events or gatherings, concerts, live shows, festivals, conferences, sports and recreational fitness activities, fundraisers, fairs, festivals or open houses. A two metre distance must still be maintained at such events," wrote the province in a release announcing the Stage 3 framework on Monday.

"Regions remaining in Stage 2 will maintain the existing gathering limit of 10. Social circles in all stages at this point will also be kept to a maximum of 10 people province-wide, regardless of stage."

Even if it's scheduled to arrive a bit late, Toronto is excited for Stage 3 — and not only for the increased gathering limits, but for all of the soon-to-be lifted restrictions on businesses, services and attractions.

Dine-in restaurants, fitness centres, casinos, theatres and bars are among the service types that will be allowed to resume operations under Stage 3, all under strict physical distancing restrictions and in line with the province's workplace safety guidelines.

With an estimated 99 per cent of all local businesses permitted under Stage 3, we're now at a point where officials are releasing lists of what still remains closed as opposed to what's allowed to reopen.

While amusement parks, buffets, private karaoke rooms, saunas and other close-contact activities will remain off-limits for the time being, all of the following are allowed to reopen with physical distancing limits of 50 or 100 people, depending on the venue.

  • All organized or spontaneous indoor and outdoor events and social gatherings (e.g., parties, fundraisers, fairs, wedding receptions, funeral receptions)
  • Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments
  • Concerts and live shows, including performing arts
  • Convention centres and other meeting or event spaces
  • Facilities for sports and recreational fitness activities (e.g., gyms, fitness studios)
  • Festivals
  • Recreational attractions, courses and instruction (e.g., fitness classes, music lessons, tutoring)
  • Movie theatres
  • Real estate open houses
  • Sporting and racing events
  • Tour and guide services (including boat tours)

We may still be a long way off from gathering in the streets by the millions again, but 50 and 100 are significant jumps from 10 and the previous five.

We'll find out what events of this size where everyone must remain two metres apart from those they don't live with look like when Toronto enters Stage 3.

Based on how long we waited to enter Stage 2 after most other regions already had, it should only be a matter of days before Canada's largest city reopens (nearly) all the way.

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim

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