ontario thanksgiving guidelines

Here are Ontario's official Thanksgiving guidelines and rules for 2021

Thanksgiving weekend is now just days away for Ontario residents, and this year — unlike last — the provincial government has issued a set of clear and descriptive guidelines for celebrating the holiday.

All current public health safety measures under Step 3 of the Roadmap to Reopen will stay in place this long weekend, which means that gathering limits are still capped at 25 people indoors and 100 people outside.

This is a moderate improvement over what was allowed in 2020, when Ontarians were encouraged only to celebrate Thanksgiving with members of their own household (despite gathering limits at the time of 10 indoors and 25 outdoors.)

Should you want to host a 25-person sit-down dinner to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving this year, you can do that — but Ontario's top doctor would encourage you to reconsider.

"The fewer people who gather, the lower the risk of transmission," said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore on Thursday when announcing the guidelines for 2021.

"And outdoor gatherings are always safer, so use outdoor spaces whenever possible."

Moore clarified that, when gathering outdoors with a group of fully vaccinated individuals, no face covering or physical distancing is necessary.

People attending outdoor gatherings with multiple households or where anyone is unvaccinated, however, should keep their masks on if physical distancing can't be maintained.

"When gathering indoors with a group of fully vaccinated individuals, you consider removing your face covering if everyone is comfortable," said Moore.

"But, if you gather indoors with people from multiple households who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or you don't know whether they've been vaccinated, you should wear a face covering and [be] physical distancing."

While not everyone agrees with the advice, it's all pretty straightforward and practical — more practical at least than Ford's instructions last year to "use your best judgement." 

The government is still encouraging people to consider virtual gatherings for the holiday, but made clear that you may have a gathering with people beyond the members of your own household this time around.

Here are the government's official guidelines for hosting a Thanksgiving party in person for 2021:

  • do not exceed the gathering limit of 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors
  • have the fewest number of people possible at your gathering • use outdoor spaces whenever possible
  • provide all the necessary supplies, including hand sanitizer, soap and water
  • open windows, if possible
  • clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces
  • ask guests not to attend if they have symptoms, even if they are mild
  • make a list of guests attending in case your local public health unit needs it for contact tracing
  • remind people of public health advice to follow during the event
  • wash your hands before and frequently when preparing and serving food
  • have everyone wash their hands before and after eating
Lead photo by

Fareen Karim


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