Ontario now allowing social circles of 10 people and here's what that means
The Ontario government just announced that we're now allowed to form social circles of up to 10 people with whom we don't have to physically distance.
This new rule is effective immediately and applies to all regions province-wide.
Speaking during the daily press briefing at Queen's Park, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott explained that social circles are different from the gathering limit, which was recently expanded from five to 10 people.
"The rules for social circles are different from the recent expansion of social gatherings from five to 10 people," she said. "Social gatherings can be any 10 people from outside your social circle, but where physical distancing of at least two metres must be maintained."
She said social circles should instead be thought of as the people you can touch, hug and come into close contact with.
#BREAKING - The Ontario Government is allowing “social bubbles” to expand meaning, for example, two families with less than 10 people that have been socially isolating can now mingle. pic.twitter.com/PQ0T4aLjGv— Richard Southern (@richard680news) June 12, 2020
During the press conference, Elliott outlined the detailed steps of how to form a social circle.
First, she said, start with your current circle (people within your household). If the number of people in your current circle is under 10 people, you can then add other members.
Next, choose who you want to be in your circle and get agreement from each person that they're willing to join.
Then, make sure to keep social circles safe by maintaining physical distancing with anyone outside of it.
Elliott added that no one should be part of more than one circle.
After months of separation, we are finding ways to bring family and friends together safely.— Doug Ford (@fordnation) June 12, 2020
Today’s, we introduced new public health guidelines on social circles. This means finally hugging a grandparent or sharing a meal with close friends
Learn more: https://t.co/JwgT3YU7L7 pic.twitter.com/norCxpmxvc
"This is a very, very important step forward," said Ford during the presser. "Social circles will allow families and friends to reunite safely while reducing the risk of exposure and spread. This means finally hugging your grandparent or sharing a meal with your parents or closest friends but, as we reopen and as we reunite, we must continue to remain on guard."
Similar approaches have already been adopted in other provinces, but they've instead been called "household bubbles" or "double bubbles."
"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," said Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Williams in a government release.
The province has also released a step-by-step guide for anyone who may be confused about the details of the new public health recommendation.
"While physical distancing does not need to be practised between members of the same social circle, other public health advice, including frequent hand washing, should be maintained," notes the government release.
"Anyone who is ill or feeling sick should immediately limit their contact with anyone in their circle, inform the other members of the circle, self-isolate, and seek testing if they have COVID-19 symptoms, by visiting one of the 145 assessment centres across Ontario. They should also seek testing if they are concerned that they might have been exposed to COVID-19 or be at risk."
This news also comes as Ontario reported less than 200 new cases of COVID-19 today for the first time since March, as well as record-high testing numbers.
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