social circles ontario

Doug Ford says 10 person social circles unlikely to be expanded this year

It's going to be an exceptionally quiet holiday season in Ontario this year, for better or for worse, if Premier Doug Ford is right about how long we'll need to maintain our 10-person pandemic "social circles."

While proud of how much work the province has already done to combat COVID-19, Ford warned during his daily press conference on Tuesday that "this pandemic is not over."

In fact, he says, it will likely last until at least January — unless a vaccine emerges first.

Ford was asked today about when residents could expect permission to grow our social circles (sometimes known as "social bubbles") beyond 10 people.

The Premier admitted that he wasn't sure, but indicated that it could still be a while before restrictions are lifted, echoing the sentiments of Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, who said today in a separate press conference that we could still be in pandemic mode for "the next two to three years."

"It's going to continue going and in my opinion – I could be wrong, I'm no medical professional – but, in my opinion, this is going until January," said Ford of the social restrictions. "Or hopefully sooner, when we get a vaccine."

It's been roughly four-and-a-half months since a state of emergency was first declared in Ontario over the COVID-19 pandemic, and nearly two since the province announced that residents could form 10-person social circles.

Gatherings of up to 100 people outdoors and 50 people indoors are permitted under Stage 3 of the province's reopening plan, but people must still maintain a physical distance of at least two metres with people outside their households or social circles.

"Social circles in all stages at this point will also be kept to a maximum of 10 people province-wide, regardless of stage," reads the province's Stage 3 reopening framework document.

Inside your social circle, physical distancing rules don't apply. Friends and family members can hug, hang out and enjoy life as they might have before the pandemic — but they can only be in one circle at a time. No crossover. No combining.

The situation isn't ideal, but Ford and his public health advisors say it's necessary to keep the province safe and our COVID-19 numbers low.

"I don't want what happened in the U.S. to happen here and it can happen real quick, real quick, so let's just continue on," said Ford on Tuesday, referring to mass outbreaks that have forced some states to reimplement lockdown orders.

"We've all worked so hard. Everyone has done a great job so let's just continue on as a strong province."

Lead photo by

Roozbeh Rokni

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