What improper socializing during COVID could cost you

It's looking like caps on social gatherings are here to stay as COVID case counts rise.

Emma Jones 7 minute read September 17, 2020
coronavirus bubble rules

Breaking coronavirus bubble rules? Here's how much you could be fined, province-to-province. Getty

Six months into Canada’s emergency response to the current global pandemic, the provinces are attempting a return to a “new normal.” Across the country, there are limits on gatherings both inside and outside, as well as requirements for a distance of two metres between social bubbles.

All provincial governments recommend frequent hand-washing, physical distancing and wearing a mask indoors when physical distancing is not possible.

We have rounded up the most up-to-date restrictions across Canada’s 10 provinces.

Atlantic bubble

Travel to Newfoundland is still heavily restricted.

Breaking social distancing guidelines in Newfoundland could mean jail time. PaulMcKinnon / Getty Images

Healthing.ca previously wrote about provincial travel rules and the restrictions on entering the Atlantic bubble. Individuals who are part of the Atlantic bubble must follow these restrictions.


With only a single active case in the province, Newfoundland is now in Alert Level Two. This means that most Newfoundland businesses are able to re-open with some restrictions, including bars, cinemas, and fitness facilities. Wakes and buffets, however, remain prohibited.

Recognized businesses or organizations are able to hold events with up to 100 people, indoors or outdoors, as long as physical distancing is maintained. Family gatherings and other events not run by a recognized business or organization, such as backyard barbecues, are limited to 50 people.

Under the Public Health Protection and Promotion Act, an individual can be fined $500 to $2,500, or face a jail sentence of up to six months (or both) for breaking these restrictions, while a corporation is looking at fine of $5,000 to $50,000.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island is currently in phase four, with many businesses, sports leagues, and day camps allowed to operate within reason. Businesses are limited to hosting up to a total of three cohorts of 50 people at a time, up to a maximum of 150. However, if they wish to have more than one group of 50 people (for instance, an event space with multiple rooms) they must get prior approval.

Personal gatherings are limited to 15 people indoors, and 20 people outside.

Under the Public Health Act, individuals breaking these restrictions can be fined $1,000 for a first offence, $2,000 for a second offence, and $10,000 for third and subsequent offences.

Nova Scotia

In Nova Scotia, individuals are asked to create social bubbles of no more than 10 individuals. Larger gatherings held indoors are limited to 50 per cent of the venue’s capacity, up to a maximum of 200 people. Outdoors, this maximum increases to 250 people.

Family gatherings and other events not run by a recognized business or organization are limited to 50 people inside and outside.

Under the Health Protection Act, individuals can be fined $1,000 for not following social distancing guidelines while businesses can be fined $7,500. Multiple fines can be given “each day an individual, business or organization fails to comply.”

New Brunswick

In a four stage re-opening plan, New Brunswick is currently in stage three (yellow level), meaning all businesses are allowed to operate provided they have a COVID response plan in place.

Uncontrolled gatherings are limited to 50 people, indoors or out. Events run in controlled settings must ensure that social distancing of two metres is able to be maintained; the total number of people allowed will vary based on the venue. Any venue that allows people to be seated — such as a restaurant or theatre — or hosts more than 50 people at a time must keep a record of all attendees for contact tracing.

Fines for not following these guidelines can range from $292.50 to $10,200.

Central Canada

The Government of Ontario has reinstated more strict restrictions due to the growth in COVID cases. R.M. Nunes / Getty Images


Quebec has had a total of 65,857 COVID cases thus far and 5,788 deaths. Quebec restrictions are divided into two regions: the majority of the province is in Alert Level 1 (lightest restrictions), however, the south, and most populous area of the province including Montreal, is currently in Level 2.

Throughout Quebec, all activity sectors have reopened with the exception of summer camps. Capacity in both indoor and outdoor public event spaces, including cinemas, theatres, and places of worship, are limited to 250 people. Organizers must ensure that site capacity allows for social distancing of two metres between social bubbles present.

For anyone 10 years of age and over, wearing a face covering is mandatory on public transit and in most indoor public places.

Individuals who do not follow social distancing or mask guidelines can face fines of up to $6,000.


Currently, Ontario has had a total of 45,383 cases and 2,822 deaths from COVID-19. Although in stage three at the end of the summer, a recent surge in cases in Toronto, Ottawa, and Peel region has prompted the Government of Ontario to reinstate more severe restrictions and harsher penalties for these areas.

Social gathering limits in Toronto, Ottawa, and Peel region have been reduced to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. These restrictions do not extend to restaurants, movie theatres, convention centres, banquet halls, schools and gyms.

All other areas in the province can continue to maintain limits of 50 people inside and 100 people outside. Most businesses are able to open, however, businesses where social distancing is difficult (e.g. Amusement Parks) or where there is a high likelihood of germ transmission (e.g. buffets) must remain closed.

Individuals who organize gatherings that break these rules can be fined $10,000, and attendees of these events can each be fined $750.

The Prairies

An increase in Cases in southwestern Manitoba has prompted the public health authority to re-instate restrictions of just 10 people per gathering.

An increase in cases in southwestern Manitoba has prompted the public health authority to re-instate restrictions of just 10 people per gathering. zorandimzr / Getty


With 1,489 total cases and 16 deaths, Manitoba currently has some of the most strict guidelines in the country.

With a recent surge in cases in the southwest region of the province, public health officials have limited this region (Prairie Mountain) to public gatherings of no more than 10 people, both indoors and out. All attendees of indoor gatherings must wear a mask, as must attendees of outdoor gatherings of more than four people. Masks can be removed if individuals are seated at least two metres from others or if a barrier is present (such as a plexiglass screen).

Travel restrictions to northern Manitoba have also been reinstated.

Individuals breaking these emergency orders can be fined $486, and businesses $2,542. Travellers who are returning from travel abroad can also be fined up to $750,000 and face jail time if they break their quarantine.


In Saskatchewan, a maximum of 30 people are allowed to gather both inside and out. If indoors, there must be enough space for two metres of social distancing between individuals.

Bars, nightclubs, shopping malls, arenas, theatres and museums are all allowed to re-open provided they follow the specific guidelines for their industries.

Under the Public Health Act, individuals breaking these restrictions may be fined; however, there is no pre-set amount for the fine.


Alberta is currently in stage two of reopening. Gatherings where people will be seated (such as wedding ceremonies, performances, movie theatres, rodeos, and sporting events) are limited to 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors. Events where guests are expected to be walking around or moving (such as wedding and funeral receptions or general social events) are limited to 50 people indoors and 200 people outdoors.

Various cohorts, or “bubbles”, have also been defined with different caps on the amount of people allowed. For example, sports teams can play in mini-leagues of up to 50 people, whereas household bubbles can expand to 15 people.

Individuals who break these guidelines can be fined $1,000.

West Coast

In B.C., drive-in religious services are encouraged as a way to ensure social distancing. Mumemories / Getty

British Columbia

In B.C., generally, alcohol sales in bars and lounges must stop at 10 p.m. Restaurants serving a full meal are allowed to stay open slightly later, but tables can seat no more than six people and must be spaced at least two metres from other tables. Generally, the maximum amount of people allowed inside is capped at 50, however, this may vary for seated performances. Outdoors, different groups must be able to keep a distance of two metres from each other.

Organizers of events that break these guidelines can be fined $2,000, while individuals can be fined $200.

emjones@postmedia.com | @jonesyjourn

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