Across the country, Canadians are shelving their New Year’s Eve plans amid record-breaking cases of COVID-19.
Provinces have continued to tighten restrictions as cases of the Omicron variant continue to surge amid the holiday season, affecting household gatherings, public events and more.
But the Governor-General says Canadians can still be hopeful as they ring in the new year.
In her first New Year’s message since becoming Governor-General in July, Mary Simon said Canadians have shown resilience, compassion and adaptability despite a difficult year.
Simon said together, Canadians are working to combat the pandemic, keeping up with fast-moving public-health directives around gatherings and celebrations.
The Globe has rounded up the rules and regulations around private gatherings, fireworks, and restaurants, bars and nightclubs to help you plan your second pandemic New Year’s Eve.
Here’s everything you need to know for each Canadian province and territory.
As of Dec. 21, indoor private gatherings are limited to a maximum of 10 adults, while there are no limits on people 17 years old and under if accompanied by a parent or guardian. Outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of 20 people, with two meters of physical distancing between households at all times.
Restaurants, bars and nightclubs: New measures came into effect Dec. 24 for businesses participating in the Restrictions Exemption Program (REP). For restaurants, the new restrictions include a limit of 10 people maximum per table, no dancing, liquor sales ending at 11 p.m. and a 12:30 a.m. closing time. For businesses not participating in REP, indoor dining is not permitted, with a limit of six people per table for outdoor dining, and liquor sales ending at 10 p.m.
Effective Dec. 20, the British Columbia government has limited residents to inviting 10 vaccinated people, or one other vaccinated household, into their homes. Unvaccinated people will be barred from inviting anyone over to their home during the holidays.
British Columbia’s top doctor has suspended all organized New Year’s Eve parties across the province. Dr. Bonnie Henry said “restaurants can continue to operate at full capacity and can have New Year’s Eve meals, but there can be no mixing of guests for receptions, for parties.”
The new public-health measures also range from limits on venues that hold more than 1,000 people to 50-per-cent capacity to no youth or adult sports tournaments over the Christmas holiday period and cancellation of all New Year’s Eve parties.
Restaurants, bars and nightclubs: Bars, nightclubs, lounges, gyms, fitness centres and dance studios have all been closed as of Dec. 22. Indoor and outdoor dining is still allowed with physical-distancing requirements, including a maximum of 6 people at a table. Customers must stay seated and cannot move between other tables. No dancing is allowed.
Fireworks: For the second year in a row, New Year’s Eve fireworks in Vancouver have been cancelled. The City of Maple Ridge is also reminding residents that fireworks are not permitted on New Year’s Eve due to a city bylaw that prohibits the sales and explosion of fireworks and firecrackers without a permit.
Indoor gatherings in private residences are limited to 10 additional people plus the household members, if everyone 12 and older is vaccinated. Indoor gatherings with unvaccinated people are limited to five additional people, plus the household members. Outdoor gatherings on private property are limited to 20 vaccinated people, plus the household, or 10 additional unvaccinated people.
Restaurants, bars and nightclubs: As of Dec. 28, capacity limits at restaurants and bars have been reduced by 50 per cent – or 250 people, whichever is lower – with a maximum 10 people per table. Proof of vaccination is required for those 12 and older. Liquor sales must end at 10 p.m. Many restaurants and bars in Winnipeg have temporarily closed while COVID-19 cases are rising, so call ahead to confirm hours.
Fireworks: In Winnipeg, The Forks has cancelled its fireworks display again this year, but skating is still open. Some food vendors will be open, but it’s recommended to check hours directly with them.
As of Dec. 27, all of New Brunswick is currently in Level 2 of its COVID-19 alert system. This means households must limit their contacts to a maximum of 10 consistent contacts. In public gatherings, venues cannot have events with more than 150 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is less, and all people must remain seated and masked unless eating or drinking.
Restaurants, bars and nightclubs: All patrons must show proof of full vaccination or a medical exemption, and all restaurants and bars are limited to 50-per-cent capacity.
Fireworks: The city of Saint John has cancelled its fireworks display due to new restrictions. Meanwhile, the Fredericton and Moncton municipalities will also not be holding any official public New Year’s Eve events.
Newfoundland and Labrador
As of Dec. 23, Newfoundland and Labrador is back in COVID-19 Alert Level 3. Informal gatherings, such as holiday parties in a home, are limited to 20 people. That means people are allowed to interact with 20 close and consistent contacts outside of their household.
Restaurants, bars and nightclubs: Restaurants are allowed to open for in-person dining at 50-per-cent capacity as long as physical distancing of two metres can be maintained. Buffets are prohibited. Bars, lounges, cinemas and bingo halls are closed.
Fireworks: The City of St. John’s will host its annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display over Quidi Vidi Lake starting at 8 p.m. City officials recommend that people remain in their vehicles to watch the fireworks. All other city-hosted NYE events are cancelled, including the skating party at The Loop, Bannerman Park and the Countdown Celebration.
Up to 25 people are allowed to gather in households, except children under the age of 12, as long as everyone is fully vaccinated. The number falls to 10 people if not everyone is vaccinated.
Restaurants, bars and nightclubs: At indoor public gatherings, up to 25 people are permitted with physical distancing between members of different groups. Outdoors, up to 50 people can gather as long as physical distancing is maintained between members of different groups.
Fireworks: The City of Yellowknife will host its annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display, starting at 8 p.m. Residents are encouraged to watch the fireworks display from various areas to allow for physical distancing.
Indoor and outdoor informal gatherings are limited to 10 people from the same household or a consistent social group. Physical distancing is not required, and masks are not required except in indoor public spaces.
Restaurants, bars and nightclubs: Restaurants and bars can operate at 50-per-cent capacity with physical distancing required. A maximum of 10 people are allowed per table. Last call is at 11 p.m. and establishments must close by midnight. Live music and dancing is allowed as long as you’re wearing a mask.
Fireworks: Halifax Regional Municipality will be throwing a virtual New Year’s Eve event. The city’s YouTube channel will feature a Golden Era of Music tribute and a Cloverdale event that features professional dancers, acrobats and a local fashion showcase.
The territory has extended its circuit-breaker lockdown as a result of the rising case counts of the Omicron variant. Indoor gatherings at homes are limited to five people plus household members, while outdoor get-togethers are restricted to 25 people.
For Pangnirtung, indoor gatherings in a home are limited to household members plus 10 people.
Restaurants, bars and nightclubs: Restaurants are limited to takeout services. Meanwhile, libraries, galleries, gyms and other gatherings at public spaces are restricted to 25 people or 25-per-cent capacity, whichever is smaller. Bars and restaurants are limited to 25-per-cent capacity with no karaoke, dancing or live music.
Fireworks: There are no official fireworks displays in Iqaluit as communities in Nunavut continue to experience territory-wide lockdown restrictions.
Currently, COVID-19 restrictions in Ontario limit social gatherings to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
Restaurants, bars and nightclubs: As of Dec. 19, limits at most indoor settings in Ontario have been reduced to 50-per-cent capacity. These spaces include restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments. As per the new restrictions, they have to institute last calls by 10 p.m. and close by 11 p.m. – except for takeout and delivery services.
Fireworks: The City of Toronto will be throwing a virtual New Year’s Eve celebration. The event, featuring online musical performances pre-recorded at venues and locations throughout the city, will be livestreamed on its CultureTO YouTube channel starting at 10:30 p.m. The program will culminate with a fireworks display across Toronto’s waterfront.
Mississauga has cancelled its in-person NYE celebrations, though the skating rink in Celebration Square will be open until 11 p.m., with food trucks on site. The city is encouraging anyone to head home after 11 p.m. to watch the virtual countdown. Nearby Brampton, however, will be holding an in-person event with live performances and fireworks from 9 p.m. at Garden Square.
The City of Ottawa has cancelled in-person fireworks. Instead, the Christmas Lights Across Canada illumination displays, which have been running each evening from early December to early January, will be open to guests, as well as a free multimedia show on Parliament Hill. Ottawa’s outdoor skating rinks – which have capacity limits as of Dec. 26, posted at each rink – will also be open for New Year’s Eve.
Prince Edward Island
The province’s Chief Public Health Officer advises against hosting any New Year’s Eve gatherings. Any group or organization that chooses to host a New Year’s event must verify proof of vaccination for all guests as per the PEI Vax Pass program. Indoor and outdoor private gatherings are limited to 10 consistent people – not 10 different people per gathering – plus household members.
Restaurants, bar and nightclubs: The closing time for all bars and restaurants is now 11 p.m. Proof of vaccination is required for indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants, cafes, bars, distilleries and breweries. As of Dec. 18, a maximum of 10 people can be seated per table and tables must be spaced at least two metres apart.
Fireworks: Charlottetown has cancelled its in-person New Year’s Eve events. Instead, the city is hosting a virtual family dance party at 6:30 p.m.
The Quebec government has tightened COVID-19 restrictions over the holidays, instating a nighttime curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. that will begin New Year’s Eve and continue for an indefinite period of time.
Starting December 31, 2021, at 5 p.m., private gatherings are limited to occupants of the same residence. For outdoor gatherings, you’re allowed to have a maximum of 20 people from different addresses, or the occupants from three households. The province is recommending that people use rapid testing kits before gathering.
Restaurants, bars and nightclubs: As of Dec. 20, bars, movie theatres and other entertainment venues have been shut down. On Dec. 30, Premier Francois Legault announced restaurants must close their dining rooms and serve takeout only starting at 5 p.m. on Friday Dec. 31. Gyms, bars and other entertainment venues have been closed since last week. Dancing and karaoke are banned once again.
Fireworks: No in-person fireworks displays are expected to be held by the province’s municipalities.
Saskatchewan is currently the only province in Canada with no gathering or capacity limits. Current pandemic measures include mandatory masks in indoor public spaces and proof of vaccination or a negative test to access non-essential businesses and venues.
Restaurants, bars and nightclubs: There are currently no restrictions on capacity limits in restaurants or bars, but patrons need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result administered within the previous 72 hours.
Fireworks: There are no official fireworks displays scheduled in either Regina or Saskatoon.
The territory is asking residents to limit the size of indoor private gatherings to a maximum of 10 people from no more than two households.
Restaurants, bars and nightclubs: For indoor dining, all patrons must show proof of vaccination and a maximum of six people are allowed per table. Bar service, dancing and moving between tables are not permitted.
Fireworks: There are no official NYE fireworks displays in Whitehorse.
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