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Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health
3 young adults outside wearing face masks and physically distancing

Social Gatherings and Physical Distancing

**On Friday, Oct. 2, the Ontario government called for a pause to social circles and ADVISED that all Ontarians allow close contact ONLY with people living in their own household and maintain two metres physical distancing from everyone else. Individuals who live alone may consider having close contact with another household.**

Social gathering limits

Social gathering limits of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, apply to private social gatherings. These limits will not apply to events or gatherings held in staffed businesses and facilities, such as bars, restaurants, cinemas, convention centres or banquet halls, gyms, and 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.

To be excluded from the social gathering limits, events must be held by or in a business or organization that is in compliance with the regulations in regards to staffing, physical distancing, COVID-19 signs, and cleaning and sanitizing.

Wondering who at your gathering will count towards the limit?

All guests and any hired staff are included in the count of individuals gathering at private settings. HPEPH considers any individuals on site at a private event (including photographers, caterers, etc.) as contributing towards the gathering limit.

The gathering limit intends to reduce risk of transmission by ensuring only small groups of people are gathered together at one time.

Wondering why businesses and organizations can have a larger number of attendees?

Staffed businesses and organizations must be in compliance with public health regulations and have COVID-19 safety plans and procedures in place in regards to staffing, physical distancing, COVID-19 signs, and cleaning an sanitizing.

Please continue to practise physical distancing.

Physical distancing includes, but is not limited to:

  • Adhering to the provincial gathering limits.
  • Talking to your supervisor, manager, or employer about the possibility of working from home where possible.
  • Avoiding visits to long-term care homes, retirement homes, supportive housing, hospices and other congregate care settings unless the visit is absolutely essential.
  • Limiting non-essential trips in the community.
    • If you have to travel via taxi or ride-share, be sure to keep the windows down.
  • Hosting virtual meetings and social interactions instead of in-person events.

Please take steps to limit your close contacts.

  • Avoid crowded areas.
  • Wear a mask and/or face covering in all public spaces or where physical distancing is not possible.
  • Maintain a distance of two metres from those around you at all times.
  • Do not touch your face.
  • Wash your hands immediately and thoroughly upon return to your home or workplace. 

Remember: While you may not feel sick, and these measures are an inconvenience, please be mindful of the members of our community who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 than others. We are all in this together.

Confused by the difference between self-quarantine, self-isolation and physical distancing? You’re not alone. These definitions have been evolving as we learn more about COVID-19 and enhance measures to fight its spread.

Adapted with permission from Ottawa Public Health.


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We are working to respond to community needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are concerned about potential exposure to a positive case of COVID-19, please be reassured that any contacts of a confirmed case will be contacted directly and monitored by public health.

Low-risk and indirect contacts should self monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the time of potential exposure and seek testing if symptoms develop. Low risk contacts do not need to isolate unless symptoms develop, and can continue to attend school/work/daycare while monitoring for symptoms.

Please continue to visit our website for more information about our programs and services.