Lock Down Measures in Toronto & Peel on Research Involving Human Participants

A message from Professor Lori Ferris, Associate Vice-President, Research (Oversight and Compliance) November 21, 2020 (updated Nov. 27)

The Government of Ontario has announced that the City of Toronto and Peel Region will enter the Grey Zone (lockdown) on November 23, 2020, for a minimum of 28 days. This announcement impacts all three campuses. This maximum measure was taken to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 in these regions. 

During this lockdown, the province is strongly encouraging residents to stay home, except for essential travel (e.g. groceries and other necessities) in an effort to reduce the number of potential contacts and exposures to COVID-19.

Given the increased levels of community transmission and the risk for human participants, effective 12:01 am Monday November 23, 2020, all face-to-face (in-person) research involving human participants, that was approved by the University (e.g. U of T REB is the Board of Record), must stop, until further notice except for the exceptions below. This includes all in-person recruitment of human participants; in-person data collection involving human participants for on-going research; as well as studies involving human participants that have recently received REB approval. Online and virtual research may continue as usual.


  • COVID-19 research
  • Where the U of T REB is the Board of Record and the study involves in-person research where the participant is receiving a service that would be delivered/received regardless of the research (e.g. client receiving dental services). Please contact the Human Research Ethics Unit at ethics.review@utoronto.ca for confirmation that your research falls into this category.
  • Where the U of T REB is not the Board of Record (e.g. TAHSN REB is the Board of Record), researchers should follow the applicable direction of that institution (assuming the in-person research is not on our campus)
  • Researchers currently in other regions or countries conducting U of T REB-approved in-person research, may continue, as long as they follow all applicable local public health directives and safety measures. If you have any questions/concerns regarding safety while conducting in-person research, please contact EHS.office@utoronto.ca

The REBs will no longer approve new protocols or amendments that involve face-to-face in-person human-participant research that is non-COVID-19 research until further notice. Amendments to pivot to online or virtual methodologies will be reviewed. Renewals and protocol completion reports will continue to be reviewed to ensure that protocols remain in good standing.

You will be notified on this webpage once face-to-face (in-person) research involving human participants can be resumed. Please direct questions to ethics.review@utoronto.ca.

Continue to stay safe and healthy.

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