Guidelines for Business and Community Organizations is a resource published by the City of Toronto to provide guidance and support for COVID-19 recovery planning for businesses and workplaces, including the safe reopening of venues and the presentation of theatrical events. The City details the current requirements for indoor and outdoor events and gatherings. The #Lights-On guide is designed to assist Venue Managers and Organizers by supplementing the City’s materials with additional sector-specific best practices to modify the workplace, to lower risk and to encourage audience retention.

While the City’s guidelines represent general best practices, each venue is unique and has varying physical layouts and operational models. Therefore, Venue Managers and Organizers contemplating reopening should create their own specific COVID-19 procedures based on these guidelines and the current prevailing Emergency Orders. Information about public health, labour relations, employment standards or occupational health and safety is also published by the City of Toronto, Government of Ontario or the Government of Canada.

Neither Toronto Public Health nor Public Health Ontario will review or approve any reopening plan or procedures, and the requirements of any public health agency is the minimum required for reopening. This guideline expands upon these minimums to present reasonable practices for consideration, yet it remains the requirement of each individual Venue Manager and/or Organizer to develop their own reopening plan and procedures.

Many changes to Pre-COVID practices and procedures for both Venue Managers and Organizers are required. These changes are of paramount importance to ensure that members of the public, staff and artists are clear that their health is the top priority, and these measures will help to prevent any further outbreaks of COVID-19.

Prior to opening a venue or booking an event, all relevant internal departments—in consultation with Venue Managers and Organizer representatives—should complete a COVID-19 risk assessment. Venue Managers and Organizers may conduct separate risk assessments, or one may build upon the other. An individual risk assessment should be conducted for each unique theatrical event in order to address any specific risks and implement any mitigation strategies that are required.

Any COVID-19 reopening plans, policies or procedures must be reviewed and updated frequently and as needed. Changes to these documents will need to be communicated to all workers. Organizers and Venue Managers will also need to determine how their Joint Health and Safety Committee (or H&S representative, as applicable) will be involved in evaluating these documents.

Under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 a business or organization may be required to prepare a safety plan and make it available in writing and upon request to any person. Instructions for doing so can be found here, and a fillable PDF City of Toronto safety plan can be found here. You can also utilize this workplace safety plan builder from the Province. A copy of the safety plan must be posted in a conspicuous place where it is most likely to come to the attention of individuals working in or attending the venue. The #Lights-On guide provides resources and information that will assist in the creation of a Safety Plan.


Back of House Staff. An individual employed or volunteering in any area of the venue where patrons do not have access. The individual may be from the venue, an Organizer or a third-party service provider.

Disinfectant solution. A product that inactivates or kills microorganisms that has been approved by Health Canada. Some products function as both cleaners and disinfectants. If a product does not function as both, separate cleaning and disinfection steps are required since surfaces must first be cleaned of dust, dirt and organic matter that can interfere with the effectiveness of disinfectants. Click here for a list of disinfectants approved by Health Canada.

Front of House Staff. An individual employed or volunteering in any area of the venue where patrons have access. The individual may be from the venue, an Organizer or a third-party service provider.

Hand Sanitizer. A hand sanitization product that contains minimum 60% alcohol and has been approved by Health Canada. Click here for a list of hand sanitizers approved by Health Canada.

High-touch Areas. This term is used throughout this guide and refers to areas that can be frequently touched by others, which need to be disinfected most often: toilets, door handles, light switches, countertops, railings, etc.

Organizer. A company who rents a venue for the purpose of holding a performance or event. Venue Managers may also undertake the role of an Organizer.

Patron. An individual attending a theatrical event as an audience member.

PPE and Face Covering. PPE is Personal Protective Equipment, which is used to protect the wearer and can include such things as medical masks, N95 respirators, gloves and gowns. PPE is intended to protect the wearer from others. While cloth and non-medical masks are not PPE, these face coverings are worn for source control to protect others from the wearer (e.g. when coughing, sneezing, etc). For a full list of products and services, visit the government of Ontario’s Workplace PPE Supplier Directory.

Public Health Authority. When discussing public health authorities within this document, we refer to agencies within governments such as Toronto Public Health, Public Health Ontario and Health Canada.

Self-Assessment. A set of health-related prescribed steps to support individuals looking to assess their well-being with respect to COVID-19 symptoms. The self-assessment is only meant as an aid and cannot diagnose you. Consult a health care provider if you have medical questions.

Venue. A theatre, rehearsal hall, live event location or any other performance facility, or a physical space with a maximum capacity of 3,500 people.

Venue Manager. Owner or manager of a venue that makes its space available to an Organizer.

Visitor. A person at the venue who is not an employee, performer or patron.

Worker. The term worker is used throughout this guide and represents a generic term for anyone working or volunteering at a venue. This can mean artists, front of house staff, technicians, volunteers, etc.


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