COVID-19 Resources

COVID-19 Resources for Event Planners in Ottawa

This webpage provides our members and industry with factual information and resources related to the event industry’s monitoring and responding to COVID-19 in Canada. The release of information related to the COVID-19 outbreak has been extremely fluid, and this page will be updated as required. If you are aware of other resources, please send to [email protected].

📌 Event Central Guidance: The City of Ottawa has established a centralized Gatherings and Events Task Force to assist organizers who are seeking support in applying the Public Health Agency of Canada’s risk assessment tool, and help people understand the mitigation measures and options available to them. Effective immediately, these enquiries can be directed to [email protected].

🚨 Follow us for industry news on Twitter @OttFestBiz and LinkedIn Ottawa Festival Network.

Holly Tarrison-Gaskin and Carole Anne Piccinin speak about the effect of COVID-19 on Ottawa's festival industry.

Above: A message from OFN’s President, Holly Tarrison-Gaskin, and Carole Anne Piccinin, Executive Director, that outlines OFN’s commitment to industry members, and how you can help us best represent industry needs.

Select a topic:

April 1 | Destination Canada webinar with the Honourable Mélanie Joly
Speakers: The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages; Destination Canada and Tourism Industry Association of Canada.
Listen to the recording (courtesy of Destination Canada on YouTube)

March 30, Government of Canada | Businesses, non-profits, charities all eligible for 75% wage subsidy if revenues have decreased by at least 30 per cent to avoid layoffs during COVID-19 crisis
» News coverage via Globe and Mail
» Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

Details were announced:

  • This measure targets businesses whose revenues decreased by at least 30% because of COVID-19
  • Number of employees is not part of eligibility criteria
  • This will apply to Non-profits and charities – as well as companies both big and small
  • The government will cover 75% of your salary on the first $58,700 that you earn. That means up to $847 a week. This will be retroactive to March 15th.
  • For every employee you have, whether you are open or not

March 28, Ontario | Ontario prohibits gatherings of more than five people with strict exceptions
» News release

March 27, Government of Canada | Government boosts wage subsidy to 75% for small, medium businesses to avoid layoffs during COVID-19 crisis
» News coverage via CBC

March 26 | Tele-Town Hall with Minister Lisa MacLeod
Speakers: Minister Lisa MacLeod; Beth Potter, President and CEO, Tourism Industry Association of Ontario; Jim Mirkopoulos, Vice President, Cinespace Film Studios; Josh Basseches, Director and Chief Executive Officer, Royal Ontario Museum; David Shoemaker, CEO and Secretary General, Canadian Olympic Committee; and Moderated by Tim Hudak, Chief Executive Officer, Ontario Real Estate Association.
 Listen to the recording (courtesy of FEO on YouTube)

March 25, Ontario | Premier Ford and Minister Phillips Announce Additional Health Care Resources and Support for People, Jobs and Employers
» Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19

March 25, Ottawa| Government of Canada announce boost to emergency COVID-19 aid benefit. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and will provide $2,000 a month for four months, for people who are off work and without an income as a result of the novel coronavirus.
» Government website: Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
» Media coverage: Feds announce boost to emergency COVID-19 aid benefit

March 25, Ottawa| Mayor Watson declares a State of Emergency for the City of Ottawa
» Information on City of Ottawa website
» Media coverage: Watson declares state of emergency in Ottawa over COVID-19 (CTV, Ottawa)

March 23, Ontario | Ontario Orders the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces to fight spread of COVID-19
» News release

March 20 | Destination Canada COVID-19 WEBINAR
Speakers: David Robinson, Interim President & CEO and other members of Destination Canada’s senior team; Business Development Bank of Canada; Parks Canada; Tourism Industry Association of Canada; and Tourism HR Canada.
Watch the recording (courtesy of Destination Canada on YouTube)

March 19, Hydro Ottawa | Recognizing the economic uncertainty associated with the current COVID-19 outbreak, Hydro Ottawa has made the decision to include all small business and commercial customers in the disconnection ban which has been extended by three months to July 30, 2020.

March 19 at 10:30am | Tele-Townhall with Minister MacLeod
A multi-sectoral call for the following: Heritage, Sport, Tourism, & Culture.
 Listen to the recording (courtesy of FEO on YouTube)

March 18, Government of Canada | This morning, the Canada COVID-19 Economic Response Plan was announced. It provides emergency measure funding for self-employed, small business, non-profits and charities.
» Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses

March 17, Ontario | Ontario declares state of emergency.  Effective immediately, recreation centres, public libraries, bars, restaurants, theatres, concert venues and cinemas will close until March 30, at least. Includes bans on public events of over 50 people, including parades, events and services within places of worship.
» News release from the province
» News conference of announcement (YouTube)

March 16, Government of Canada | Canada closes borders to foreigners, U.S. exempted. New measures come into effect on March 18.
» News coverage, Bloomberg

March 16, Province of Ontario | Ontario Announces Job Protection for Workers during the COVID-19 Situation
» Ontario to Protect Workers who Take Leaves from Work

March 15, Ottawa Public Health | Dr. Etches has urged people to cancel gatherings of all sizes and strengthen their social distancing practices immediately.
» News coverage: Do not go out for 'non-essential reasons': Ottawa's top doctor

March 13, Event Central, City of Ottawa | Event Central shared a statement outlining measures taken by the City of Ottawa to follow recommendations from the Province to limit gatherings of more than 250 people to support social distancing and reduce the potential spread of COVID-19. All City recreation facilities and community centres, including skating rinks, swimming pools, theatres, will be closed effective Monday, March 16 until Monday, April 5. This decision will be reassessed closer to that date. To support organizers throughout this challenging time, the City is establishing a centralized Task Force and Ottawa Public Health is developing new web content to provide guidance on considering risks and mitigations for events and mass gatherings.
» Read the full statement

March 13, City of Ottawa | Mayor Watson announces that the City will be closing all pools, arenas and cultural centres until April 5, and all events in those buildings, including third-party events, will be cancelled during this time Dr. Etches indicated that they are following the province's guidance and suspending all events over 250 people. She indicated that there will be tools and guidance for event organizers that employ a risk-based approach. High risk events would include events that attract vulnerable populations and events that attract people from around the world.
 View the update (Youtube)

March 13, Province of Ontario | Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, recommended the immediate suspension of all large events and public gatherings of over 250 people due to COVID-19. We are awaiting more detail of this measure and will forward as soon as we receive the official memo from the province.
» News coverage: Ontario health official recommends cancellation of events with over 250 attendees

March 13, Government of Canada | Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, indicated that social distancing is an important contribution and that events or gatherings with a lot of people should be cancelled, postponed or modified.
» News Coverage: Ottawa urges Canadians not to leave the country and suspend large gatherings of people

Government of Canada: Risk-informed decision-making for mass gatherings during COVID-19 global outbreak

The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued a tool to provide guidance in terms of conducting risk assessment when determining the public health actions related to a mass gathering during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The tool suggests that decisions regarding mass gatherings can be considered on a continuum from no changes needed, to enhanced communication to attendees, to risk mitigation strategies being employed without cancelling the event, through to postponement or cancellation of the event.

For event producers, risk mitigation strategies could include:

  • reducing the number of participants or changing the venue to prevent crowding;
  • staggering arrivals and departures;
  • providing packaged refreshments and food instead of a buffet;
  • increasing access to handwashing stations;
  • promoting personal protective practices (hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, staying home if ill);
  • offering virtual or live-streamed activities; and
  • changing the event program to reduce high risk activities such as those that require physical contact between participants.

» Risk-informed decision-making for mass gatherings during COVID-19 global outbreak

Other Government of Canada resources:

Ontario Ministry of Health: The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Ministry of Health offers no clear guidance to events at this time, but does provide an information page that includes the current status in Ontario and general information related to individual prevention measures.

» The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
» Reminder for Special Occasion Permit Holders from the AGCO  [PDF]

Ottawa Public Health: Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Ottawa Public Health is managing a page with daily updated information about Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

» Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
» Hosting, postponing or cancelling mass gatherings

WHO: Key planning recommendations for mass gatherings in the context of the current COVID-19 outbreak

WHO is providing guidance through their Key planning recommendations for Mass Gatherings in the context of the current COVID-19 outbreak (2020) which they suggest should be read in conjunction with the Public health for mass gatherings: key considerations (2015), which provides general advice on the public health aspects of mass events.

Also helpful:

Festivals and Events Ontario 

» Can You Rely on the Force Majeure Clause in Your Insurance Based on COVID-19? [PDF]

CAPACOA: Coronavirus Preparedness for the Live Performance Sector

CAPACOA created a resource document to address the many performing arts organizations that have expressed concerns about risks associated with COVID-19.

» Coronavirus Preparedness document [Google Docs]

FYI Music News: A Pandemic Resource Guide For Businesses and Artists

Provides information about financial support from the Canadian government, as well as some other resources related to the music industry.

» A Pandemic Resource Guide For Businesses and Artists

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC — USA): Get Your Mass Gatherings or Large Community Events Ready for Coronavirus Disease 2019

The CDC provides some guidance for organizers and staff responsible for planning mass gatherings or large community events in the United States, but most of the tips are transferable.

» Get Your Mass Gatherings or Large Community Events Ready for Coronavirus Disease 2019

City of Ottawa

» Economic support and recovery information and resources
» Buy local campaign: Support Ottawa’s economy, buy local now!

Government of Canada resources for business 

During this extraordinary time, the Government of Canada is taking strong action to help Canadian businesses as COVID-19 is affecting them, their employees and their families.

» Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
» Financial and economic support for business:

Ottawa Tourism

Ottawa Tourism is sharing information on the member news page as it becomes available.

» COVID-19 update
» OT member news

Invest Ottawa

Invest Ottawa aims to equip companies and community with key information, tools and support.

» Business support
» Actionable Insight

Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC)

TIAC is curating tourism-related information.

» Coronavirus | Impact on Tourism – Current situation
» Resources for Canadians and businesses in the tourism sector

Ontario Chamber of Commerce

Ontario Chamber of Commerce and Hicks & Morley have created a #COVID19 Pandemic Preparedness Toolkit to support Ontario businesses.

» COVID-19 Pandemic Preparedness Toolkit [PDF]

BDC: Business Continuity Plan and Templated for Entrepreneurs 

» Business continuity plan and templates for entrepreneurs
» How to cope with the impacts of COVID-19 on your business (on-demand webinar via YouTube)

Ontario Not for Profit Network 

» Resources to help nonprofits adapt and respond to COVID-19


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Ottawa’s festivals, special events and fairs.

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