Premier Doug Ford appears to have broken COVID-19 physical distancing measures prescribed by Ontario’s public health officials, saying his two daughters who live in different households visited his home over Mother’s Day weekend.
Speaking to reporters at his daily briefing Monday, Ford said his family gathering was limited to six people, “direct family” only, with none of his daughters’ husbands or boyfriends present.
“I really trust the judgment of the people of Ontario. If you have an elderly mother or father, and their health isn’t great, I wouldn’t chance it,” Ford said.
“I’d keep with immediate family. That would be my recommendation. I wouldn’t get into the big gatherings. That just can’t happen. We want to keep it with immediate family just for a little bit longer.”
Ford made the comments just days after Ontario’s chief medical officer of health expressed concern that some 55 per cent of new coronavirus infections are still being contracted through community spread.
WATCH | Ford says his daughters visited over Mother’s Day weekend:
As for whether Ontarians could begin expanding their so-called physical bubble to include other households, as has been permitted in some other provinces, the province’s chief medical officer, Dr. David Williams, said Thursday:
“The key public health measure, as you recall, was the requirement for people to — except in the family unit or bubble — stay six feet away, ideally stay home, have very little interaction that would bring you in proximity of people closer than six feet. And that is still in place at this time.”
Ontario’s COVID-19 website states: “Everyone in Ontario should practice physical distancing to reduce their exposure to other people — this means staying at least two metres away from anyone outside your household.”
Asked how Ford’s behaviour lined up with public health guidance on physical distancing, the premier’s office said in a statement, “We understand that people want to spend more time with their friends, family and loved ones. Thanks to our collective efforts, we are now in a position where we can start to plan to ease public health measures.
“As we do, we continue to rely on Ontarians to use their best judgment when interacting with individuals from outside their household, e.g., staying six feet apart, ensuring people are symptom free, and continuing to practise proper hygiene.”
However, Ford’s admission about his weekend seemed to prompt some confusion online, with some Ontarians wondering if they can now begin visiting their own family members.
This is either a change from what we’ve been told over the last 8 weeks, or a complete failure to communicate the rules. We’ve all understood “immediate family” to be the people you live with. All of the sudden it includes children/parents/siblings who don’t live together?
Yeah, how “immidiate” are we talking here? looks like, parents, siblings & their families..!! I wouldn’t wanna be visiting mom and get slammed with a hefty fine just cause they were not clear on the “memo”
I’m 34 years old. I’ve never went this long without seeing my folks. So am I allowed to go visit them now ? If so. I’m on my way home now ma and pa!!
I wasn’t aware of any announcement that family could gather !?? I believe Our Toronto medical officer of health mentioned sharing her Mother’s Day FaceTiming with her mother???? Mmmmmm let’s get the story straight please !!!! <a href=”https://t.co/IGVoN0GmUc”>https://t.co/IGVoN0GmUc</a>
Asked for her reaction to the news, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said, “The premier made his own choices on the weekend.”
Horwath said there has been “mixed messaging” from some political leaders on physical distancing.
“It’s pretty clear that if we’re still in this state of emergency, and the health experts are still advising that we stay two metres’ distance and maintain contact only with your immediate household, then that’s what people should be doing.”
At a news conference on Monday, Dr. Williams said he didn’t know the details of Ford’s family gathering, but that his advice for Ontarians is still to maintain physical distance from people outside your immediate household.
He said members of his own family visited over the weekend, but kept their distance by staying on the front lawn.
“We’re asking people to do their part to maintain the physical distancing at this stage and then … when the community transmission is down enough, we can look at it,” Williams said.
“At this point, our messaging is still the same and we’re asking people to hold the fort for now.”