Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on COVID-19, September 15, 2020


Good afternoon everyone. Bonjour à toutes et à tous. Today, I’d like to offer some guidance to Canadians planning gatherings or events during the colder months. But first, I’ll start with the latest numbers.

There have been 138,010 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 9,179 deaths. 88% of people have now recovered.  Over the past week, over 47,000 people were tested daily, with 1.5% of people testing positive. An average of 838 new cases have been reported daily during the most recent seven days.

Canadians have no doubt noticed that today’s numbers have continued an upward trend in COVID-19 cases. This acceleration in cases in several regions is cause for concern.  We must all act now to pump the breaks, so-to-speak, on this acceleration. 

Multiple reported outbreaks have been linked to single gatherings such as private social events, and celebrations, and community events held indoors.  The acceleration in cases has occurred at a time when the weather has turned colder, and Canadians have begun to move indoors for Fall and Winter.

With important holidays and gatherings approaching this Fall, I know Canadians want to know how they can gather safely and ensure that an event remains a happy memory --- days, weeks and years later. The most important thing to know is that any gathering carries risk of transmitting the virus.  With that said, there are some things we can all do to reduce, but not eliminate, the risk.

The most important step hosts can take when having a gathering is to stick to their established contacts bubble.  If you are thinking of hosting an event for people outside of your contacts bubble, ask yourself if you, someone in your household, or someone you are inviting are at high risk of developing complications from COVID-19.  People at high risk include older adults, people of any age with compromised immune systems or chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and lung disease, as well as people living with obesity. If the gathering would include someone at high risk, including yourself, the event may not be appropriate.

The next best thing hosts can do to reduce their risk is to hold the event outdoors. We all know that colder weather is coming, but gathering outdoors, while bundled up, is a preferred way to reduce your risk.

There are many other ways that hosts can reduce the risk for their guests indoors.  For example:

  • postpone the event if your are sick, and ask guests who are sick not to attend;
  • ensure guests have enough space to practise physical distancing at the event;
  • consider asking your guests to wear masks or face coverings, and provide masks for those who don’t have them;
  • make sure guests have access to soap and water, or hand sanitizer, and encourage them to wash their hands often; and
  • clean common surfaces such as door knobs, handles and table tops frequently during the event.

Canadians can find these suggestions, and others at

Our traditional gatherings may look different this fall, but I know that hosts will feel better knowing that they did everything they could to reduce the risk of their event becoming another outbreak.

Thank you.

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