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COVID-19 News Archive

This is a listing of news stories of the COVID-19 pandemic as relevant to the bereavement sector. This archive started in March 2020 and ended in October 2021.


Oct. 25 – Government of Ontario – Ontario Releases Plan to Safely Reopen Ontario and Manage COVID-19 for the Long-Term
…In response to continued improvements to key indicators, including ongoing stability in the province’s hospitals, effective October 25, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., Ontario will lift capacity limits, including physical distancing requirements, in the vast majority of settings where proof of vaccination are required…

Sept. 14 – Government of Ontario –
Ontario Releasing Guidance to Support Proof of Vaccination Policy
…Today the government released the regulations and guidance for businesses and organizations to support them in implementing proof of vaccination requirements, which take effect on September 22, 2021.

July 9 – Government of Ontario –
Ontario Moving to Step Three of Roadmap to Reopen on July 16
…Step Three of the Roadmap focuses on the resumption of additional indoor services with larger numbers of people and restrictions in place. This includes, but is not limited to:…Indoor religious services, rites or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services permitted with physical distancing;…

June 7 – Government of Ontario – Ontario to Move to
Step One of Roadmap to Reopen on June 11
Improvements in Key Indicators Allowing Province to Begin the Safe and Gradual Lifting of Public Health Measures

May 20 – Government of Ontario – Ontario Releases
Three-Step Roadmap to Safely Reopen the Province
The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has released its Roadmap to Reopen, a three-step plan to safely and cautiously reopen the province and gradually lift public health measures based on the provincewide vaccination rate and improvements in key public health and health care indicators. In response to recent improvements to these indicators, Ontario will allow more outdoor recreational amenities to reopen, with restrictions in place, effective May 22, 2021 at 12:01 a.m…Based on current trends in key health indicators, including the provincial vaccination rate, the government expects to enter Step One of the Roadmap the week of June 14, 2021. The province will confirm closer to the expected start of Step One.

April 16 – Government of Ontario – Strengthens Enforcement of Stay-at-Home Order
…In addition, effective Monday, April 19, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the government is limiting the capacity of weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies to 10 people indoors or outdoors. Social gatherings associated with these services such as receptions are prohibited, except for with members of the same household or one other person from outside that household who lives alone. Drive-in services will be permitted.

April 7 – Government of Ontario – Enacts Provincial Emergency
and Stay-at-Home Order
The Ontario government…is immediately declaring a third provincial emergency…These measures are being taken in response to the rapid increase in COVID-19 transmission, the threat on the province’s hospital system capacity, and the increasing risks posed to the public by COVID-19 variants…Effective Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the government is issuing a province-wide Stay-at-Home order requiring everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes,

April 2 – Standard-Freeholder – Bereavement authority revokes licences for Cornwall funeral director
The Bereavement Authority of Ontario has revoked the licences of funeral director Bonnie Parker, Parker Funeral Home Ltd. in Morrisburg, and at McArthur Bros. & MacNeil Funeral Home and Chapel in Cornwall. David Brazeau, the BAO communications manager…said the BAO “suspends and revokes licences to protect grieving families — this occurs several times a year across the province, when needed.’’ But, it’s a fairly rare occurrence considering there are thousands of individual licensees and business licences across Ontario.

April 1 – Government of Ontario – Provincewide Emergency Brake:
All 34 Public Health Unit Regions to Move into Shutdown

…”We are facing a serious situation and drastic measures are required to contain the rapid spread of the virus, especially the new variants of concern,” said Premier Ford…Ontario’s key indicators and latest modelling show that additional measures must be taken. From March 26 to 28, 2021, provincial case rates have increased by 7.7 per cent to 101.1 cases per 100,000 people…COVID-19 related ICU admissions are projected to exceed 650 beds in a few weeks. These increases are being driven by COVID-19 variants, which are transmitted easily and result in a higher risk of death and hospitalization, including in younger populations.

Feb. 26 – Government of Ontario – Thunder Bay and Simcoe-Muskoka moved into Grey-Lockdown
Nine Public Health Regions Moving to New Levels in the COVID-19 Response Framework

Jan. 21 – Postmedia – Death response plan from BAO addresses rising COVID-19 toll
The Modified Expedited Death Response (MEDR) Plan was issued last week and is effective immediately, and applies to all regions of the province, with the exception of some communities and areas in northern and western Ontario. Part of the plan, in a Bereavement Authority of Ontario (BAO) news release, has funeral/transfer staff required to attend at hospitals and long-term care (LTC) facilities within six hours of being advised the decedent is ready for release.

Jan. 7, 2021 – Standard-Freeholder – Ontario bereavement authority: sector not at risk of over-capacity
The bereavement sector’s ability to professionally care for those who have died during the pandemic remains strong and is not at risk of exceeding capacity in Ontario.


Dec. 21 – Government of Ontario – Provincewide Shutdown – As COVID-19 cases continue to rise at an alarming rate, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is imposing a Provincewide Shutdown starting Dec. 26.

Nov. 27 – Government of Ontario COVID-19 Response Framework – Here is the province’s colour code of restrictions, which change with the state of the pandemic in public health unit zones.

Nov. 13 – CBC – Marketplace tested over 20 different masks. Here’s what will best protect you and others during the pandemic
Wearing a mask is critical to reducing the spread of COVID-19, but rigorous tests conducted on behalf of CBC’s Marketplace found that while some work very well, others offer little protection from the particles that transmit the novel coronavirus…Top Performers – 3-layer masks… More

Nov. 4 – The Standard – 2020 a hard year for Niagara funeral homes, grieving families 
…Recently, the Bereavement Authority of Ontario, an arm of the provincial government that regulates the funeral industry, waived licence renewal fees for a year. “The BAO’s licensees have shown leadership in continuing to provide uninterrupted professional, safe and caring services to families across the province during COVID-19 pandemic measures,” said the agency’s chief executive officer Carey Smith…It was welcome recognition for what his industry has gone through, says George Darte (funeral home operator in St. Catharines). “I know most people don’t understand our world … but we do know what we do, and we have had a number of our families thank us as well,” he says…He has talked with funeral home operators in the U.S., which has 11 times the population of Canada, but 23 times more COVID deaths.  More

Nov. 3 – TVO – Ontario unveils new colour-coded COVID-19 control system
The province is abandoning its “Stage 2/Stage 3” framework and adopting a colour-coded one that it hopes will allow for faster and more targeted responses. Read the full plan here.


Oct. 16 – Government of Ontario – York Region placed in modified Stage 2
Effective Monday, October 19, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., York Region will join Ottawa, Peel and Toronto public health regions in a modified Stage 2, as a result of their trends in public health indicators, including higher than average rates of COVID-19 transmission. More

Oct. 15 – BBC – Coronavirus: France reports more than 30,000 new infections
France has reported a large jump in new Covid-19 cases ahead of a night-time curfew being imposed on Paris and eight other cities on Saturday. A further 30,621 infections were confirmed on Thursday, up from 22,591 the day before. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that tough restrictions are “absolutely necessary” to save lives. Millions in Europe have been told they must live under strict new measures as governments battle a second wave. More

Oct. 9 – Government of Ontario – Ontario Implementing Additional Public Health Measures in Toronto, Ottawa and Peel Region
Government Taking Further Steps to Support Small Business in these Hotspots. More

Sept. 28 – Government of Ontario – Ontario Investing $52.5 Million to Recruit, Retain and Support More Health Care Workers
The Ontario government is investing $52.5 million to recruit, retain and support over 3,700 more frontline health care workers and caregivers to ensure our health care system can meet any surge in demand, while continuing to provide safe and high-quality care to patients and long-term care residents. This investment is part of the province’s COVID-19 fall preparedness plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19. More

Sept. 17 – Government of Ontario – Lower Limits for Unmonitored and Private Social Gatherings in Ottawa, Peel and Toronto Regions
In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local medical officers of health and local municipal leaders, the Ontario government has amended order O. Reg 364/20: Rules for Areas in Stage 3 under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, setting a new limit reducing the number of people permitted to attend unmonitored social gatherings and organized public events in three regions experiencing higher rates of transmission of COVID-19. This includes functions, parties, dinners, gatherings, BBQs or wedding receptions held in private residences, backyards, parks and other recreational areas. (Funeral services are not mentioned.) More

Aug. 23 – Bloomberg – Italy Lockdown Success Challenged by New Europe Virus Surge 
After suffering one of Europe’s earliest and fiercest outbreaks, Italy emerged as an unlikely role model for its handling of the pandemic…As cases flare in Europe — many linked to young travelers returning from summer holidays — Italy’s success may now be in jeopardy…The intensity and duration of Italy’s lockdown is widely seen as one of the reasons why cases continued to fall after curbs started to be gradually lifted in early May. Restrictions were maintained for a full six weeks after new infections peaked, and schools never reopened unlike in France or Germany…Images such as those of army trucks loaded with coffins in the northern city of Bergamo started circulating at the height of the infection in March, and played a role in driving home the gravity of the situation. More 

Aug. 10 – Government of Ontario – Windsor-Essex to Join the Rest of Province in Stage 3
On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer Health and the local medical officer of health, Windsor-Essex will be allowed to move into Stage 3 on Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. More

July 29 – Government of Ontario: Ontario Moving Toronto and Peel Region into Stage 3  
Additional businesses and public spaces will be reopening as the Ontario government allows the City of Toronto and Peel Region to move into Stage 3 of reopening the province on Friday, July 31 at 12:01 a.m. More

July 26 – Toronto Sun – Saying goodbye in the time of COVID
…The early weeks of the pandemic were a nightmare of trying to cope with a death when the whole world was shut down — no places of worship, no contact with friends for support, no traditional funeral possible.…Verburg credits the Bereavement Authority of Ontario, the government body that oversees the profession, for guiding everyone through this. More

July 20 – Government of Ontario – Ontario Moving More Regions into Stage 3
The Ontario government is allowing seven more regions to enter Stage 3 on Friday, increasing the number of businesses and public spaces that will reopen across the province…The following regions will remain in Stage 2 until local trends of key public health indicators demonstrate readiness to move into Stage 3: Peel Public Health; Toronto Public Health; and Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. More

July 13 – Government of Ontario – Nearly all businesses and public spaces to reopen in Stage 3
The Ontario government announced nearly all businesses and public spaces will reopen in Stage 3 of the province’s reopening framework with public health and workplace safety measures and restrictions in place…
New Gathering Limits: (with physical distancing)
– Indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people.
– Outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people
…gathering limits apply to higher risk settings and activities where people congregate, including…parties, fundraisers, fairs, wedding receptions, funeral receptions…People gathering indoors for religious services, rites or ceremonies, and wedding ceremonies or funeral services, can continue to fill up to 30 per cent of the capacity of the particular room, as introduced in Stage 2. (Outdoor funeral services can have a maximum of 100 people in attendance.)   More

June 17 – Government of Ontario – Extends Emergency Orders
The Ontario government has extended all emergency orders currently in force under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. This extension will be in effect until June 30, 2020 to ensure the government continues to have the necessary tools to safely and gradually reopen the province, while continuing to support frontline health care workers and protect vulnerable populations from COVID-19. More

June 8 – Government of Ontario – More Businesses and Services to Reopen in the Coming Days
…Effective Friday, June 12, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., the province will increase the limit on social gatherings from five to 10 people across the province, regardless of whether a region has moved to Stage 2. Additionally, all places of worship in Ontario will also be permitted to open with physical distancing in place and attendance limited to no more than 30 per cent of the building capacity to ensure the safety of worshippers. More

May 6 – Toronto Star – PPE fees for cost recovery only
“Use of PPE or any other COVID fee must be itemized for families to see and understand,” said (the BAO‘s David) Brazeau. “Funeral homes and transfer services did not previously have a standard way of showing this in contracts with consumers. The notice we issued provides them with a standard way of doing this.” More

April 27 – Maclean’s – How grieving has changed during coronavirus: A funeral director’s experience
…All churches have since been closed and the Bereavement Authority of Ontario has instructed that during the COVID-19 pandemic, all funeral activities, whether inside a funeral home or outside at a cemetery, are now limited to 10 people in total. In Nova Scotia, the maximum is five people. In Newfoundland, because they can trace most of the province’s COVID-19 cases to a funeral visitation that happened in March, the chief medical officer of health ordered a complete provincial ban on funerals and wakes. More

April 21 – CBC – Coroner orders sweeping changes to avoid ‘sad scenes’ like those in Italy, U.S.
Ontario’s chief coroner says the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing his office to make major changes to how hospitals and funeral homes deal with the dead…(Dr. Dirk) Huyer said the goal is to move “everything more quickly” as the coronavirus continues to reap its deadly toll in the province’s hospitals and nursing homes…”We are not going to see the scenes that we’ve seen in Italy, or in the United States, in other parts of the world, where loved ones, the bodies of loved ones, are in essence being stockpiled in arenas and community centres and so on. And that’s not going to happen here because of the proactive measures we’ve put in place,” (the BAO‘s) Brazeau said. More

April 15 – Ottawa Sun – Crematoriums ordered to be ready to run ‘all day, every day’
The Bereavement Authority of Ontario, the agency that licenses and regulates funeral homes, crematoriums and cemeteries, issued the directive earlier this month as part of its wide-ranging response to COVID-19. “All crematoriums in Ontario must be ready to operate all day, every day, seven days a week,” said the order signed by bereavement authority chief executive Carey Smith. More

April 14 – CTV Ottawa – New rules for Ontario funeral homes during the COVID-19 pandemic
Under the new rules, a funeral home will need to pick-up the body of a deceased loved one from a hospital within an hour of being contacted, and within three hours from a long-term care facility. This is to prevent a back-log at the facilities during the pandemic. More

April 14 – Ontario Government – Declaration of Emergency extended to May 12
The extension of the provincial declaration of emergency allows Ontario to continue to enforce current emergency orders, such as the closure of all non-essential workplaces, outdoor amenities such as parks and recreational areas, public places and bars and restaurants, as well as restrictions on social gatherings of more than five people, and prohibitions against price-gouging. More

April 13 – Ontario Government – Ontario Secures Critical Medical Equipment & Supplies
The Ontario government continues to ensure that patients, frontline health care workers and first responders have the critical equipment and supplies they need to protect themselves during the COVID-19 outbreak. Over the last five days, more than 13 million surgical and procedural masks, 200,000 N95 respirator masks, and 38 ventilators have been delivered to Ontario’s pandemic stockpile warehouses. More

April 11 – Ontario Government – Province Extends Emergency Orders until April 23
To help stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of people across the province, the Ontario government has extended all emergency orders that have been put in place…
1. Subject to subsection (3), no person shall attend,
(a) an organized public event of more than five people, including a parade;
(b) a social gathering of more than five people; or
(c) a gathering of more than five people for the purposes of conducting religious services, rites or ceremonies…
Subsection (1) does not apply to the following:
A gathering of members of a single household.
A gathering for the purposes of a funeral service that is attended by
not more than 10 persons. O. Reg. 99/20, s. 3. More

April 10 – The Globe and Mail – ‘Plan for the worst and hope for the best’: Canada’s funeral industry
Contingency plans are being made across the country to avoid the fate of places like New York, where mass graves on public land are being considered to accommodate the deceased…David Brazeau, the communications manager with the Bereavement Authority of Ontario, said that’s not going to happen in the province, because the industry has been taking steps to avoid this for weeks…Families are being encouraged to proceed with disposition, meaning burials or cremation, as soon as possible. More

April 5 – CTV News –
Anxiety grows in N.L. as 75% of COVID-19 cases traced to one funeral home

Contact tracing by public health officials had linked 143 known cases to the funeral home cluster as of Friday, about 75 per cent of the provincial total. Among them are health-care workers and mail carriers. More

April 3 – Ontario Government –
Ontario Extends Business Closures to Stop the Spread of COVID-19

The bereavement sector is included in the pared-down essential workplaces list
#9 Funeral and related services.”

April 2 – Ottawa Citizen –
Essential-services designation a potential safety boost for funeral services industry during pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to restrictions on attendance at funeral services, with Ontario limiting such gatherings to 10 people not including staff, and a directive from the Bereavement Authority of Ontario, a not-for-profit regulator, calls for two metres distance between attendees.

April 1 – Muslim Link –
BAO Recommendations on Conducting
Muslim Funeral Services During COVID-19

The BAO is seeking your cooperation and strongly urges the Muslim community to only use licensed professionals to assist with transportation of the body and preparation of the body including cleansing and casketing.

April 1 – Owen Sound Sun Times –
COVID-19 restrictions impacting funeral services

Funeral director John McGlynn says he empathizes with those families who are mourning a loved one’s death but must postpone the usual services or celebrations of life because of gathering restrictions precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic…The province recently banned gatherings of more than five people, but said funerals can proceed with up to 10 people at a time. The Bereavement Authority of Ontario says that number must be even lower if the room cannot allow people to maintain physical distancing of at least two metres from one other at all times… McGlynn – who, along with his wife Sandy, purchased the Brian E. Wood Funeral Home on Nov. 1 – said no public visitations or funeral services are currently being held at the funeral home. As a result, about a dozen part-time employees have been laid off.

March 29 – Toronto Star – Follow the rules
…The funeral and bereavement industry had already introduced more stringent rules by limiting on-site attendance to 10 or fewer people, not counting funeral staff, said David Brazeau, communications manager with Bereavement Authority of Ontario… Allan Cole, owner and president of MacKinnon and Bowes Ltd., said … “I think you’re seeing scaled-back versions of simple ceremonies … with very, very few family members are present,” but that still reflect “the dignity and appropriateness, given the current challenges we’re facing.” More

March 28 – Ontario Government – Ontario prohibits gatherings of 5 or more
Stronger action required to stop the spread of COVID-19 – …Funerals would be permitted to proceed with up to 10 people at one time.. More

March 27 – Huffington Post – Funerals during the corona pandemic
The BAO released a guide for Muslim-Canadians who may want to wash the dead that includes COVID-19 prevention tips. More

March 24 – Ontario Government: Electricity relief, small businesses
To support Ontarians through the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, the Government of Ontario is providing immediate electricity rate relief for families, small businesses and farms paying time-of-use (TOU) rates. More

March 23 – Ontario Government: Workplaces
Due to the evolving COVID-19 situation, the Ontario government will be ordering at-risk workplaces to close-down, while encouraging businesses to explore opportunities to continue operations through work-from-home and innovative business models. List of Essential Workplaces, which are not closing – “#66 – Businesses providing funeral, mortician, cremation, transfer, and burial services, and any related goods and products (such as coffins and embalming fluid);” More

March 22 – The Ottawa Citizen: Precautions, industry impacts
The BAO continues to remind funeral professionals to follow their precautions and wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). More

March 20 – National Post: Access to masks
The BAO’s CEO/Registrar Carey Smith said, “There is no known risk associated with being in the same room as a COVID-19 deceased, but of course, embalmers doing preparation activities have risks associated with that, and they have to take measures to protect themselves.” More