If you've been missing your friends and loved ones a little more recently, you're in luck; the province is encouraging residents to begin expanding their social bubbles to include people outside of their households.

As parts of the province being Stage 2 of reopening the economy today, Premier Doug Ford has announced that Ontarians are officially allowed to expand social circles up to a total of 10 people so they can interact and come into close contact with one another without physical distancing.

Dr. David Williams, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, updated public health advice to come into effect immediately province-wide to allow social circles of up to 10 members, including those outside the immediate household.

Until today, Williams recommended Ontarians should physically distance from anyone outside of their household.

READ: Every Business That’s Allowed to Reopen in Ontario During Stage 2

During his COVID briefing on Friday, Premier Ford said "This is a very, very important step forward."

"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."

"As the public health trends improve and our collective efforts start to pay off, we're now able to take another step forward today by allowing families and their loved ones to reunite and spend time with one another safely through social circles," said Ford.

Here's how to create your social circle: 

  • Step 1: Start with your current circle: the people you live with or who regularly come into your household;
  • Step 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;
  • Step 3: Get agreement from everyone that they will join the circle;
  • Step 4: Keep your social circle safe. Maintain physical distancing with anyone outside of your circle; and
  • Step 5: Be true to your circle. No one should be part of more than one circle.
  • The province says the rules for social circles are different from the proposed expansion of social gatherings from five to 10 people.

    Social gatherings can be any 10 people from outside your household, but where physical distancing of at least two metres should be maintained. For example, the expansion of social gatherings enables individuals and families to enjoy the company of others at backyard barbeques and picnics in neighbourhood parks, while respecting physical distancing advice.

    On the other hand, social circles will enable Ontarians to enjoy close contact with members of their circle. This could include hugging, carpooling, enjoying a patio and sharing a meal without staying two metres apart.

    Ontarians should still avoid close-contact activities with anyone outside of their circle if they are unable to maintain physical distancing. Social circles will also bring back supports from people outside of their household who can now help with children, seniors or those in need.

    This news comes as health officials reported 182 new cases of the disease on Friday, bringing the provincial total to 31,726. This was the first time the case number fell into the 100s since late March.

    Ontario News