Ontario Allows Gatherings for Religious Services as "Drive-ins"
May 2020 Charity & NFP Law Update
Published on May 28, 2020

By Jacqueline M. Demczur

On May 16, 2020, the Ontario government amended its regulation regarding restrictions on social gatherings and organized public events. Ontario Regulation 52/20 was issued in accordance with subsection 7.02(4) of the Emergency and Civil Protection Act (the “Emergency Order”). The amended Emergency Order exempts persons who gather for the purposes of a religious service, rite or ceremony if the prescribed precautions are followed.

These precautions require, generally, that: i) the persons attending the service remain inside their motor vehicle; ii) only members of the same household may be in a motor vehicle together; iii) each motor vehicle must be positioned at least two meters away from other motor vehicles; iv) no more than five persons, each remaining at least two meters apart from others, may conduct the service from outside a motor vehicle; v) any building located at the place where the gathering is taking place must remain closed except as reasonably required for access to the persons conducting the service; vi) no materials may be exchanged between the persons conducting the service or the attendees; vii) persons who ordinarily use a non-motorized vehicle because of their religious belief may attend the service provided they remain within their non-motorized vehicle and follow these rules with necessary modifications.

The Emergency Order is currently in force until June 9, 2020, although it may be extended, as has been done in the past. Other provinces also have similar special measures and/or guidelines in place for gatherings being held for the purposes of religious services, rites or ceremonies. 

Read the May 2020 Charity & NFP Law Update