Ontario now allows “social circles” of up to 10 people

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Up to 10 people from different households in Ontario can now form “social circles,” Premier Doug Ford announced today.

“This means finally hugging your grandparent or sharing a meal with your parents or closest friends,” Ford said. “But as we reopen and as we reunite we must continue to remain on guard.”

Effective June 12, all across the province, a “circle” of no more than 10 people can interact and come into close contact with one another – including hugging and kissing – without having to practise physical distancing.

“Think of your social circle as the people you can touch, hug and come into close contact with as we continue our fight against COVID-19,” said Health Minister Christine Elliott.

She added that social “circles” are different from social “gatherings.” As of June 12, people can also gather in groups of up 10 people from outside their household but must remain physically distant.

Here are Ontario’s rules for forming a social circle:

  1. Start with your current circle: the people you live with or who regularly come into your household;
  2. If your current circle is under 10 people, you can add members to your circle, including those from another household, family members or friends;
  3. Get agreement from everyone that they will join the circle;
  4. Keep your social circle safe. Maintain physical distancing with anyone outside of your circle; and
  5. Be true to your circle. No one should be part of more than one circle.

Provincial officials add that Ontarians “should avoid close-contact activities with anyone outside of their circle if they are unable to maintain physical distancing,” and that measures like mask-wearing and hand-washing are still encouraged.

Officials noted that the loosening of distancing restrictions will not only aid Ontarians’ mental health but bring back opportunities for extra support for seniors, children and others in need of assistance from family or loved ones.

“Not only will social circles help to improve people’s mental health and reduce social isolation, they will support rapid case and contact tracing by limiting the number of close contacts, in the event of a case of COVID-19 in that circle,” provincial chief medical officer of health David Williams said.

@nowtoronto