ontario gathering

Ontario won't be lifting its 5 person gathering limit this week after all

Two days into the official start of Stage 1 of the province's reopening, Premier Doug Ford has shared some bad news for those hoping to get out and enjoy the sunny summer weather with a few of their friends.

Despite hints and hopes that the number of people allowed to gather in Ontario might be raised from five to ten this week, it appears that the limit will be staying as is for now.

Ford and Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliot revealed in a press conference last Friday that a new announcement pertaining to group sizes would be coming sometime this week, and that increasing the number of people allowed to socialize together was something the provincial government was "studying very closely."

But, the premier said today that, based on the advice of the province's Chief Medical Officer, the five-person rule is still necessary at this time. It will remain in place until at least May 29, the end of the current state of emergency.

Ford reiterated that the measures we've all come to know (and perhaps hate) — such as maintaining a distance of at least two metres from others, staying home if experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, washing hands often and properly, regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces, working from home if possible and wearing a face covering when out in public — continue to be crucial.

He then added maintaining groups of five or fewer to this list, saying "the chief medical officer has been very clear and the guidance on social gatherings remains the same: we can't have more than five people from outside your household [meeting] right now, we need to keep using common sense."

The rule of five applies across the board, even if the requisite social distancing is being practiced and even with members of your own family who do not live with you.

Ford added that activities like helping out a loved one and throwing a ball around with a friend are okay, so long as physical distancing rules are properly heeded and no more than five people are present (unless they all live together).

Along with expanding the number of people allowed in groups sometime in the (hopefully near) future, the province is also considering making rules around household "bubbles," which would allow more people to congregate, so long as they are only from a certain number of households.

If there are dramatic spikes in COVID-19 cases as the province gradually reopens, Ford has said that he will not hesitate to re-introduce some of the lockdown restrictions that are now loosening — but hopefully these numbers will continue on the general downward trend that health officials are hoping for.

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert

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