Tis the season for holiday gatherings.

Social gatherings are currently allowed in Ottawa this holiday season, one year after Ontarians could only celebrate with members of their same household due to COVID-19 restrictions.

"I want to caution everyone to proceed with vigilance this holiday season," said medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches in a statement.

"Assess the risk of those with whom you are gathering. Consider everyone’s vaccination status. If you choose to attend a larger gathering with others, maintain a physical distance and wear a mask when this might be difficult."

CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at the social gathering rules and guidance from Ottawa Public Health for holiday events in Ottawa.

SOCIAL GATHERING LIMITS

Ottawa

As of Sunday, Dec. 19, indoor social gatherings at private residences are permitted up to 10 people

Outdoor social gatherings at private residences are permitted up to 25 people.

Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington

If you are travelling to Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington for the holidays, there are new limits on gatherings due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Indoor private gatherings are capped at 5 people.

Gatineau

If you have plans to attend Christmas and New Year's events in Gatineau, a maximum of 10 people are permitted to gather indoors.

The Quebec government also introduced new restrictions including closing bars, taverns, casinos, theatres, gyms and schools, and reducing capacity at restaurants.

INDOOR GATHERING TIPS

Ottawa Public Health issued the following tips to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19 during indoor gatherings.

  • If all guests are fully vaccinated, you may consider removing your mask if everyone is comfortable
  • If you are gathering with people from multiple households who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, wear a mask and physically distance
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Open windows, if possible
  • 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

GATHERING AT A RESTAURANT, BUSINESS OR YOUR WORKPLACE

Eastern Ontario's medical officer of health says he's comfortable with people attending a holiday gathering at a restaurant or bar since everyone will be fully vaccinated.

"The passport allows you to do that. So yes, I am comfortable but you need to be comfortable yourself," said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis during an interview on Newstalk 580 CFRA.

"If you have underlying medical conditions or if you're in a category that perhaps the vaccine hasn't worked effectively, perhaps you should be not going there at this point. It’s a personal decision and also a decision that you have to make on behalf of your family members as well."

Ottawa Public Health says if you attend a festive event at a business or your workplace, you must:

  • Follow the applicable provincial restrictions for that setting, such as rules for restaurants, bars or meeting and event spaces.  
  • Follow the advice and guidance outlined in the hosting social gatherings section above. 
  • Workplaces should choose venues with sufficient space for physical distancing. 

Under Ontario's proof of vaccination system, you must show proof of full vaccination and ID to enter indoor areas of restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments. 

OUTDOOR GATHERING TIPS

"Celebrating the holidays outdoors can be done safely and is likely safer than indoor activities," said Ottawa Public Health.

The health unit offers tips to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission during outdoor events.

  • When gathering outdoors with a group of fully vaccinated individuals, no mask or physical distancing is necessary
  • If you are gathering with people from multiple households who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, consider wearing a mask if physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • Stay home if you are feeling ill, even with mild symptoms, or if you are in quarantine or self-isolating
  • Avoid high-touch surfaces and wash your hands often 

If you plan on attending an in-person outdoor organized public event, the health unit recommends:

  • Avoid crowds as much as possible and maintain a physical distance of two metres from others who are not from your household
  • If you are unable to maintain 2 metres of physical distance from another individual who is not part of your household then you must wear a mask